Page images

A man more civil, sober, and discreet,

More grave and courteous, you could seldom meet:
Though frugal he, yet sumptuous was his board,
As if to prove how much he could afford;
For though reserved himself, he loved to see
His table plenteous, and his neighbours free:
Among these friends he sat in solemn style,
And rarely soften'd to a sober smile;
For this observant friends their reasons gave-
Concerns so vast would make the idlest grave:
And for such man to be of language free,
Would seem incongruous as a singing tree:
Trees have their music, but the birds they shield
The pleasing tribute for protection yield;
Each ample tree the tuneful choir defends,
As this rich merchant cheers his happy friends!"
In the same town it was his chance to meet
A gentle lady, with a mind discreet;
Neither in life's decline, nor bloom of youth,
One famed for maiden modesty and truth :
By nature cool, in pious habits bred,

She look'd on lovers with a virgin's dread:
Deceivers, rakes, and libertines were they,
And harmless beauty their pursuit and prey;
As bad as giants in the ancient times

Were modern lovers, and the same their crimes:
Soon as she heard of her all-conquering charms,
At once she fled to her defensive arms;
Conn'd o'er the tales her maiden aunt had told,
And statue-like, was motionlike and cold;
From prayer of love, like that Pygmalion pray'd,
Ere the hard stone became the yielding maid-
A different change in this chaste nymph ensued,
And turn'd to stone the breathing flesh and blood:
Whatever youth described his wounded heart,
"He came to rob her, and she scorn'd his art;
And who of raptures once presumed to speak,
Told listening maids he thought them fond and

[ocr errors]

But should a worthy man his hopes display
In few plain words, and beg a yes or nay,
He would deserve an answer just and plain,
Since adulation only moved disdain-
Sir, if my friends object not, come again."

Hence our brave lover, though he liked the face,
Praised not a feature-dwelt not on a grace;
But in the simplest terms declared his state,

A widow'd man, who wish'd a virtuous mate;
Who fear'd neglect, and was compell'd to trust
Dependants wasteful, idle, or unjust;
Or should they not the trusted stores destroy,
At best, they could not help him to enjoy,
But with her person and her prudence blest,
His acts would prosper, and his soul have rest:
Would she be his?”—“ Why that was much to say;
She would consider: he a while might stay;
She liked his manners, and believed his word;
He did not flatter, flattery she abhorr'd:
It was her happy lot in peace to dwell-
Would change make better what was now so well?
But she would ponder."-"This," he said, "was

His worldly wealth she sought, and quickly

Pleased with her search, and happy in the view
Of vessels freighted with abundant stores,
Of rooms whose treasures press'd the groaning

And he of clerks and servants could display
A little army, on a public day.
Was this a man like needy bard to speak
Of balmy lip, bright eye, or rosy cheek?

The sum appointed for her widow'd state,
Fix'd by her friend, excited no debate;
Then the kind lady gave her hand and heart,
And, never finding, never dealt with art:
In his engagements she had no concern;
He taught her not, nor had she wish to learn:
On him in all occasions she relied,

His word her surety, and his worth her pride.
When ship was launch'd, and merchant Paul had

Romantic maidens would have scorn'd the air,
And the cool prudence of a mind so fair;
But well it pleased this wiser maid to find
Her own mild virtues in her lover's mind.

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

Then from his chair a man in black arose,
And with much quickness hurried off his prose:
That " Ellen Paul the wife, and so forth, freed
From all control, her own the act and deed,
And forasmuch"-said she, "I've no distrust,
For he that asks it is discreet and just;
Our friends are waiting-where am I to sign?
There!--Now be ready when we meet to


This said, she hurried off in great delight,
The ship was launch'd, and joyful was the night.
Now, says the reader, and in much disdain,
This serious merchant was a rogue in grain;
A treacherous wretch, an artful, sober knave,
And ten times worse for manners cool and
And she devoid of sense, to set her hand
To scoundrel deeds she could not understand.


Alas! 'tis true; and I in vain had tried
To soften crime, that cannot be denied ;
And might have labour'd many a tedious verse
The latent cause of mischief to rehearse :
Be it confess'd, that long, with troubled look,
This trader view'd a huge accompting book
(His former marriage for a time delay'd
The dreaded hour, the present lent its aid ;)
But he too clearly saw the evil day,
And put the terror, by deceit, away;


And begg'd to know "when she had fix'd her Thus by connecting with his sorrows crime,


He gain'd a portion of uneasy time.-
All this too late the injured lady saw,
What love had given, again she gave to law;
His guilt, her folly-these at once impress'd
Their lasting feelings on her guileless breast.

"Shame I can bear," she cried, " and want sus-

Assured that law, with spell secure and tight,
Had fix'd it as her own peculiar right.

But will not see this guilty wretch again ;"
Now to her ancient residence removed,
For all was lost, and he, with many a tear,
She lived as widow, well endow'd and loved,
Confess'd the fault-she turning scorn'd to hear. Decent her table was, and to her door
To legal claim he yielded all his worth,
Came daily welcomed the neglected poor:
But small the portion, and the wrong'd were wroth, The absent sick were soothed by her relief,
Nor to their debtor would a part allow;
And where to live he knew not-knew not how.

As her free bounty sought the haunts of grief;
A plain and homely charity had she,
And loved the objects of her alms to see;
With her own hands she dress'd the savoury meat,
With her own fingers wrote the choice receipt;
She heard all tales that injured wives relate,
And took a double interest in their fate;
But of all husbands not a wretch was known
So vile, so mean, so cruel as her own.
This bounteous lady kept an active spy,

His wants and weakness might have touch'd her To search th' abodes of want, and to supply;


But from his meanness she resolved to part."
In a small alley was she lodged, beside
Its humblest poor, and at the view she cried,
'Welcome-yes! let me welcome, if I can,
The fortune dealt me by this cruel man;
Welcome this low thatch'd roof, this shatter'd


The gentle Susan served the liberal dame-
Unlike their notions, yet their deeds the same:
No practised villain could a victim find
Than this stern lady more completely blind;
Nor (if detected in his fraud) could meet
One less disposed to pardon a deceit ;
The wrong she treasured, and on no pretence
Received th' offender, or forgot th' offence:
But the kind servant, to the thrice-proved knave
A fourth time listen'd, and the past forgave.

First in her youth, when she was blithe and gay,
Came a smooth rogue, and stole her love away;
Then to another and another flew,

The wife a cottage found, and thither went
The suppliant man, but she would not relent:
Thenceforth she utter'd with indignant tone,
"I feel the misery, and will feel alone."
He would turn servant for her sake, would keep
The poorest school; the very streets would sweep,
To show his love." It was already shown:
And her affliction should be all her own.


These walls of clay, this miserable floor;
Welcome, my envied neighbours; this, to you,
Is all familiar-all to me is new;

You have no hatred to the loathsome meal;
Your firmer nerves no trembling terrors feel,
Nor, what you must expose, desire you to conceal;
What your coarse feelings bear without offence,
Disgusts my taste, and poisons every sense:
Daily shall I your sad relations hear,
Of wanton women, and of men severe;
There will dire curses, dreadful oaths abound,
And vile expressions shock me and confound;
Noise of dull wheels, and songs with horrid words,
Will be the music that this lane affords ;
Mirth that disgusts, and quarrels that degrade
The human mind, must my retreat invade :
Hard is my fate! yet easier to sustain
Than to abide with guilt and fraud again;
A grave impostor! who expects to meet,
In such gray locks and gravity, deceit ?
Where the sea rages, and the billows roar,
Men know the danger, and they quit the shore;
But, be there nothing in the way descried,
When o'er the rocks smooth runs the wicked tide,
Sinking unwarn'd, they execrate the shock,
And the dread peril of the sunken rock."

A frowning world had now the man to dread,
Taught in no arts, to no profession bred;
Pining in grief, beset with constant care,
Wandering he went, to rest he knew not where.

Meantime the wife-but she abjured the name-
Endured her lot, and struggled with the shame ;
When lo! an uncle on the mother's side,
In nature something, as in blood allied,
Admired her firmness, his protection gave,
And show'd a kindness she disdain'd to crave.

Frugal and rich the man, and frugal grew
The sister mind, without a selfish view;
And further still; the temperate pair agreed
With what they saved the patient poor to feed:
His whole estate, when to the grave consign'd,
Left the good kinsman to the kindred mind;

To boast the wanton mischief he could do:
Yet she forgave him, though so great her pain,
That she was never blithe or gay again.

Then came a spoiler, who, with villain art,
Implored her hand, and agonized her heart;
He seized her purse, in idle waste to spend
With a vile wanton, whom she call'd her friend;
Five years she suffer'd-he had revell'd five-
Then came to show her he was just alive;
Alone he came, his vile companion dead;
And he, a wandering pauper, wanting bread;
His body wasted, wither'd life and limb,
When this kind soul became a slave to him:
Nay, she was sure that, should he now survive,
No better husband would be left alive;
For him she mourn'd, and then, alone and poor,
Sought and found comfort at her lady's door:
Ten years she served, and, mercy her employ,
Her tasks were pleasure, and her duty joy.

Thus lived the mistress and the maid, design'd
Each other's aid-one cautious, and both kind:
Oft at their window, working, they would sigh
To see the aged and the sick go by;
Like wounded bees, that at their home arrive,
Slowly and weak, but labouring for the hive.
The busy people of a mason's yard
The curious lady view'd with much regard;
With steady motion she perceived them draw
Through blocks of stone the slowly-working saw;
It gave her pleasure and surprise to see
Among these men the signs of revelry:
Cold was the season, and confined their view,
Tedious their tasks, but merry were the crew;
There she beheld an aged pauper wait,
Patient and still, to take an humble freight;
Within the panniers on an ass he laid
The ponderous grit, and for the portion paid;

This he resold, and, with each trifling gift, Made shift to live, and wretched was the shift.

Nor will it be by every reader told Who was this humble trader, poor and old. In vain an author would a name suppress, From the least hint a reader learns to guess; Of children lost our novels sometimes treat, We never care-assured again to meet : In vain the writer for concealment tries, We trace his purpose under all disguise ; Nay, though he tells us they are dead and gone, Of whom we wot-they will appear anon; Our favourites fight, are wounded, hopeless lie, Survive they cannot-nay, they cannot die; Now, as these tricks and stratagems are known, 'Tis best, at once, the simple truth to own.

This was the husband; in an humble shed He nightly slept, and daily sought his bread: Once for relief the weary man applied; "Your wife is rich," the angry vestry cried: Alas! he dared not to his wife complain, Feeling her wrongs, and fearing her disdain: By various methods he had tried to live, But not one effort would subsistence give: He was an usher in a school, till noise Made him less able than the weaker boys; On messages he went, till he in vain Strove names, or words, or meanings to retain ; Each small employment in each neighbouring town By turn he took, to lay as quickly down: For, such his fate, he fail'd in all he plann'd, And nothing prosper'd in his luckless hand.

At his old home, his motive half suppress'd, He sought no more for riches, but for rest: There lived the bounteous wife, and at her gate He saw in cheerful groups the needy wait; "Had he a right with bolder hope t' apply?" He ask'd, was answer'd, and went groaning by: For some remains of spirit, temper, pride, Forbade a prayer he knew would be denied.

Thus was the grieving man, with burden'd ass, Seen day by day along the street to pass : "Who is he, Susan? who the poor old man? He never calls; do make him, if you can." The conscious damsel still delay'd to speak, She stopp'd confused, and had her words to seek; From Susan's fears the fact her mistress knew, And cried-" The wretch! what scheme has he in view?

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


But look, (God bless him!) how he gropes along."Brought me to shame."-"O! yes, I know it all;

What cutting blast! and he can scarcely crawl;
He freezes as he moves; he dies! if he should fall.
With cruel fierceness drives this icy sleet,
And must a Christian perish in the street,

In sight of Christians?-There! at last, he lies ;-
Nor unsupported can he ever rise:

He cannot live."-" But is he fit to die?"-
Here Susan softly mutter'd a reply,

Look'd round the room, said something of its state,

Dives the rich, and Lazarus at his gate;
And then aloud-" In pity do behold
The man affrighten'd, weeping, trembling, cold:
O! how those flakes of snow their entrance win
Through the poor rags, and keep the frost within;
His very heart seems frozen as he goes,
Leading that starved companion of his woes :
He tried to pray-his lips, I saw them move,
And he so turn'd his piteous looks above;
But the fierce wind the willing heart opposed,
And, ere he spoke, the lips in misery closed :
Poor suffering object! yes, for ease you pray'd,
And God will hear-he only, I'm afraid."

"Peace! Susan, peace! Pain ever follows sin." -"Ah! then," thought Susan, "when will ours begin?

When reach'd his home, to what a cheerless fire
And chilling bed will those cold limbs retire!
Yet ragged, wretched as it is, that bed
Takes half the space of his contracted shed;
I saw the thorns beside the narrow grate,
With straw collected in a putrid state :
There will he, kneeling, strive the fire to raise,
And that will warm him, rather than the blaze;
The sullen, smoky blaze, that cannot last
One moment after his attempt is past :
And I so warmly and so purely laid,
To sink to rest-indeed, I am afraid."-
"Know you his conduct?"-"Yes, indeed, I

[ocr errors]

Is this his lot?--but let him, let him feel-
Who wants the courage, not the will to steal."
A dreadful winter came, each day severe,
Misty when mild, and icy cold when clear;
And still the humble dealer took his load,
Returning slow, and shivering on the road :
The lady, still relentless, saw him come,
And said, "I wonder, has the wretch a home?"-Wilful is poor, and must the storm abide;"

Said the stern lady-" "Tis in vain to feel;
Go and prepare the chicken for our meal."

"A hut! a hovel !"-" Then his fate appears
To suit his crime."-" Yes, lady, not his years;-
No! nor his sufferings, nor that form decay'd."-
"Well! let the parish give its paupers aid;
You must the vileness of his acts allow."-
"And you, dear lady, that he feels it now."-
"When such dissemblers on their deeds reflect,
Can they the pity they refused expect?
He that doth evil, evil shall he dread."-
"The snow," quoth Susan, "falls upon his bed-
It blows beside the thatch-it melts upon his head." No more behold him-but she would sustain ;

Susan her task reluctantly began,
And utter'd as she went-"The poor old man!"
But while her soft and ever-yielding heart
Made strong protest against her lady's part,
The lady's self began to think it wrong
To feel so wrathful and resent so long.

No more the wretch would she receive

And how he wanders in the wind and snow:
Safe in our rooms the threatening storm we hear,
But he feels strongly what we faintly fear."-
"Wilful was rich, and he the storm defied,

[ocr errors]

Great his offence, and evil was his mind,-
But he had suffer'd, and she would be kind :
She spurn'd such baseness, and she found

A fair acquittal from so foul a sin;

Yet she too err'd, and must of Heaven expect
To be rejected, him should she reject."

Susan was summon'd; "I'm about to do
A foolish act, in part seduced by you;
Go to the creature, say that I intend,
Foe to his sins, to be his sorrow's friend;
Take, for his present comforts, food and wine,
And mark his feelings at this act of mine:
Observe if shame be o'er his features spread,
By his own victim to be soothed and fed;
But, this inform him, that it is not love
That prompts my heart, that duties only move:
Say, that no merits in his favour plead,
But miseries only, and his abject need;
Nor bring me grovelling thanks, nor high-flown
praise ;

I would his spirits, not his fancy raise;
Give him no hope that I shall ever more
A man so vile to my esteem restore;
But warn him rather, that, in time of rest,
His crimes be all remember'd and confess'd :
I know not all that form the sinner's debt,
But there is one that he must not forget."

The mind of Susan prompted her with speed
To act her part in every courteous deed:
All that was kind she was prepared to say,
And keep the lecture for a future day;
When he had all life's comforts by his side,
Pity might sleep, and good advice be tried.

This done, the mistress felt disposed to look,
As self-approving, on a pious book:
Yet, to her native bias still inclined,

She felt her act too merciful and kind;
But when, long musing on the chilling scene
So lately past-the frost and sleet so keen-
The man's whole misery in a single view-
Yes! she could think some pity was his due.

Thus fix'd, she heard not her attendant glide
With soft slow step-till, standing by her side,
The trembling servant gasp'd for breath, and

[ocr errors]



"No! crusts and water in a corner stood ;-
To have this plenty, and to wait so long,
And to be right too late, is doubly wrong:
Then, every day to see him totter by,
And to forbear-O! what a heart had I!"

Blame me not, child; I tremble at the news."-
""Tis my own heart," said Susan, “I accuse:
To have this money in my purse-to know
What grief was his, and what to grief we owe :
To see him often, always to conceive
How he must pine and languish, groan and


And every day in ease and peace to dine,
And rest in comfort!-what a heart is mine!"


'Tis thought your deer doth hold you at a bay. Taming of the Shrew, act v. sc. 2.

Relieving tears, then utter'd-" He is dead!"
"Dead!" said the startled lady. Yes, he

Close at the door where he was wont to dwell;
There his sole friend, the ass, was standing by,
Half dead himself, to see his master die."

"A wife with less respect will do for me:
How is he certain such a prize to gain?
What he approves, a lass may learn to feign,
And so affect t' obey, till she begins to reign;

"Expired he then, good Heaven! for want of A while complying, she may vary then,

And be as wives of more unwary men ;
Besides, to him who plays such lordly part
How shall a tender creature yield her heart?
Should he the promised confidence refuse,
She may another more confiding choose;
May show her anger, yet her purpose hide,
And wake his jealousy, and wound his pride.
In one so humbled, who can trace the friend?
I on an equal, not a slave, depend;
If true, my confidence is wisely placed,
And being false, she only is disgraced."

[blocks in formation]

Now by the world it is a lusty wench,
I love her ten times more than e'er I did.
ib. act. ii. sc. 1.
COUNTER and CLUBB were men in trade, whose

Credit, and prudence, brought them constant gains;
Partners and punctual, every friend agreed
Counter and Clubb were men who must succeed.
When they had fix'd some little time in life,
Each thought of taking to himself a wife;
As men in trade alike, as men in love
They seem'd with no according views to move;
As certain ores in outward view the same,
They show'd their difference when the magnet


Counter was vain: with spirit strong and high,
"Twas not in him like suppliant swain to sigh:
'His wife might o'er his men and maids preside,
And in her province be a judge and guide;
But what he thought, or did, or wish'd to do,
She must not know, or censure if she knew;
At home, abroad, by day, by night, if he
On aught determined, so it was to be:
How is a man," he ask'd," for business fit,
Who to a female can his will submit?
Absent a while, let no inquiring eye

Or plainer speech presume to question why,
But all be silent; and, when seen again,
Let all be cheerful;-shall a wife complain?
Friends I invite, and who shall dare t' object,
Or look on them with coolness or neglect?
No! I must ever of my house be head,
And, thus obey'd, I condescend to wed."
Clubb heard the speech-" My friend is nice,"
said he;

Clubb, with these notions, cast his eye around,
And one so easy soon a partner found.
The lady chosen was of good repute;
Meekness she had not, and was seldom mute;

Though quick to anger, still she loved to smile;
And would be calm if men would wait a while.
She knew her duty, and she loved her way,
More pleased in truth to govern than obey;
She heard her priest with reverence, and her spouse
As one who felt the pressure of her vows;
Useful and civil, all her friends confess'd,
Give her her way, and she would choose the best;
Though some, indeed, a sly remark would make,
Give it her not, and she would choose to take.

All this, when Clubb some cheerful months had spent,

He saw, confess'd, and said he was content.

Counter meantime selected, doubted, weigh'd, And then brought home a young complying maid; A tender creature, full of fears as charms, A beauteous nursling from its mother's arms; A soft, sweet blossom, such as men must love, But to preserve must keep it in the stove: She had a mild, subdued, expiring lookRaise but the voice, and this fair creature shook; Leave her alone, she felt a thousand fearsChide, and she melted into floods of tears; Fondly she pleaded, and would gently sigh, For very pity, or she knew not why; One whom to govern none could be afraidHold up the finger, this meek thing obey'd; Her happy husband had the easiest taskSay but his will, no question would she ask; She sought no reasons, no affairs she knew, Of business spoke not, and had naught to do.

Oft he exclaim'd, "How meek! how mild! how

With her 'twere cruel but to seem unkind;
Though ever silent when I take my leave,

It pains my heart to think how hers will grieve;
"Tis heaven on earth with such a wife to dwell,
I am in raptures to have sped so well;
But let me not, my friend, your envy raise,
No! on my life, your patience has my praise."

His friend, though silent, felt the scorn implied,
"What need of patience?" to himself he cried :
Better a woman o'er her house to rule,
Than a poor child just hurried from her school;
Who has no care, yet never lives at ease;
Unfit to rule, and indisposed to please;
What if he govern? there his boast should end,
No husband's power can make a slave his friend.”

It was the custom of these friends to meet With a few neighbours in a neighbouring street; Where Counter oft times would occasion seize To move his silent friend by words like these: "A man," said he, "if govern'd by his wife, Gives up his rank and dignity in life; Now better fate befalls my friend and me"He spoke, and look'd th' approving smile to see. The quiet partner, when he chose to speak, Desired his friend, "another theme to seek ; When thus they met, he judged that state affairs And such important subjects should be theirs." But still the partner, in his lighter vein, Would cause in Clubb affliction or disdain ; It made him anxious to detect the cause Of all that boasting; "Wants my friend applause? This plainly proves him not at perfect ease, For, felt he pleasure, he would wish to please. These triumphs here for some regrets atoneMen who are blest let other men alone."

[ocr errors]

Thus made suspicious, he observed and saw His friend each night at early hour withdraw; He sometimes mention'd Juliet's tender nerves, And what attention such a wife deserves: "In this," thought Clubb, "full sure some mystery lies

He laughs at me, yet he with much complies,
And all his vaunts of bliss are proud apologies."
With such ideas treasured in his breast,
He grew composed, and let his anger rest;
Till Counter once (when wine so long went round
That friendship and discretion both were drown'd)
Began in teasing and triumphant mood

His evening banter.-" Of all earthly good,
| The best," he said, "was an obedient spouse,
Such as my friend's-that every one allows :
What if she wishes his designs to know?

It is because she would her praise bestow;
What if she wills that he remains at home?
She knows that mischief may from travel come.
I, who am free to venture where I please,
Have no such kind preventing checks as these;
But mine is double duty, first to guide
Myself aright, then rule a house beside;
While this our friend, more happy than the free,
Resigns all power, and laughs at liberty."
"By Heaven," said Clubb, "excuse me if I


I'll bet a hundred guineas, if he dare, That uncontroll'd I will such freedoms take, That he will fear to equal-there's my stake." "A match!" said Counter, much by wine inflamed;

"But we are friends; let smaller stake be named: Wine for our future meeting, that will I Take, and no more-what peril shall we try?" "Let's to Newmarket," Clubb replied; " or choose Yourself the place, and what you like to lose; And he who first returns, or fears to go, Forfeits his cash-" Said Counter,

Be it so." The friends around them saw with much delight The social war, and hail'd the pleasant night; Nor would they further hear the cause discuss'd, Afraid the recreant heart of Clubb to trust.

Now sober thoughts return'd as each withdrew, And of the subject took a serious view:

""Twas wrong," thought Counter, "and will grieve my love."

""Twas wrong," thought Clubb, "my wife will not approve :

But friends were present; I must try the thing,
Or with my folly half the town will ring."

He sought his lady; "Madam, I'm to blame,
But was reproach'd, and could not bear the shame ;
Herein my folly-for 'tis best to say
The very truth-I've sworn to have my way :
To that Newmarket-(though I hate the place,
And have no taste or talents for a race,
Yet so it is-well, now prepare to ehide)-
I laid a wager that I dared to ride;
And I must go: by Heaven, if you resist
I shall be scorn'd, and ridiculed, and hiss'd;
Let me with grace before my friends appear,
You know the truth, and must not be severe;
He too must go, but that he will of course;
Do you consent?-I never think of force."

"You never need," the worthy dame replied: "The husband's honour is the woman's pride;

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »