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Dimmed the false prospect with prophetic tears.
Thus passed th' allotted hours, till, lingering late,
The lover loitered at the master's gate ;
There he pronounced adieu! and yet would stay,
Till chidden—soothed-entreated-forced away ;
He would of coldness, though indulged, complain,
And oft retire, and oft return again;
When, if his teasing vexed her gentle mind,
The grief assumed compelled her to be kind !
For he would proof of plighted kindness crave,
That she resented first and then forgave,
And to his grief and penance yielded more
Than his presumption had required before.
Ah! fly temptation, youth ; refrain! refrain !
Each yielding maid and each presuming swain ! Lo! now with red rent cloak and bonnet black, And torn green gown loose hanging at her back, One who an infant in her arms sustains, And seems in patience striving with her pains ; Pinched are her looks, as one who pines for bread, Whose cares are growing and whose hopes are fled; Pale her parched lips, her heavy eyes sunk low, And tears unnoticed from their channels flow; Serene her manner, till some sudden pain Frets the meek soul, and then she’s calm again: Her broken pitcher to the pool she takes, And every step with cautious terror makes ; For not alone that infant in her arms, But nearer cause, her anxious soul alarms. With water burthen'd, then she picks her way, Slowly and cautious, in the clinging clay ; Till, in mid-green, she trusts a place unsound, And deeply plunges in th' adhesive ground : Thence, but with pain, her slender foot she takes, While hope the mind as strength the frame forsakes : For when so full the cup of sorrow grows, Add but a drop it instantly o’erflows. And now her path but not her peace she gains, Safe from her task, but shivering with her pains; Her home she reaches, open leaves the door, And placing first her infant on the floor,
She bares her bosom to the wind, and sits,
And sobbiny struggles with the rising fits :
In vain, they come, she feels th’inflating grief,
That shuts the swelling bosom from relief :
That speaks in feeble cries a soul distressed,
Or the sad laugh that cannot be repressed.
The neighbour-matron leaves her wheel and flies
With all the aid her poverty supplies :
Unfee'd, the calls of Nature she obeys,
Not led by profit, not allured by praise;
And waiting long, till these contentions cease,
She speaks of comfort, and departs in peace.
Friend of distress! the mourner feels thy aid,
She cannot pay thee, but thou wilt be paid.
But who this child of weakness, want, and care ?
'Tis Phæbe Dawson, pride of Lammas Fair :
Who took her lover for his sparkling eyes,
Expressions warm, and love-inspiring lies :
Compassion first assailed her gentle heart,
For all his suffering, all his bosom's smart:
And then his prayers ! they would a savage move,
dud win the coldest of the sex to love :-
But ah! too soon his looks success declared,
Too late her loss the marriage-rite repaired;
The faithless flatterer then his vows forgot;
A captious tyrant or a noisy sot:
Ii present, railing, till he saw her pained ;
If absent, spending what their labours gained ;
Till that fair form in want and sickness pined,
And hope and comfort fled that gentle mind.
Then fly temptation, youth: resist, refrain !
Nor let me preach for ever and in vain!
CCLII. MRS ANNE GRANT, 1754–1838
THE HIGHLAND WIDOW.
Where yonder ridgy mountains bound the scene,
The narrow opening glens that intervene
Still shelter, in some lowly nook obscure,
One poorer than the rest, where all are poor;
Some widow'd matron, hopeless of relief,
Who to her secret breast confines her grief,
Dejected sighs the wintry night away,
And lonely muses all the summer day :
Her gallant sons, who, smit with honour's charms,
Pursued the phantom Fame through war's alarms.
Return no more; stretch'd on Hindostan's plain,
Or sunk beneath the unfathomable main ;
In vain her eyes the watery waste explore
For heroes, fated to return no more!
Let others bless the morning's reddening beam,
Foe to her
Mit breaks the illusive dream, That, in their prime of manly bloom confest, Restored the long-lost warriors to her breast, And, as they strove, with smiles of filial love, Their widow'd parent's anguish to remove, Through her small casement broke the intrusive day And chased the pleasing images away. No time can e'er her banish'd joys restore, For, ah! a heart once broken heals no more. The dewy beams that gleam from Pity's eye, The 'still small voice' of sacred sympathy, In vain the mourner's sorrows would beguile, Or steal from weary woe one languid smile ; Yet what they can, they do—the scanty store, So often open’d for the wandering poor, To her each cottager complacent deals, While the kind glance the melting heart reveals ; And still, when evening streaks the west with gold, The milky tribute from the lowing fold With cheerful haste officious children bring, And every smiling flower that decks the spring : Ah ! little know the fond attentive train, That spring and flowerets smile for her in vain : Yet hence they learn to reverence modest woe, And of their little all a part bestow. Let those to wealth and proud distinction born, With the cold glance of insolence and scorn Regard the suppliant wretch, and harshly grieve The bleeding heart their bounty would relieve; Far different these; while from a bounteous heart With the poor sufferer they divide a part ; Humbly they own that all they have is given
A boon precarious from indulgent Heaven:
And the next blighted crop or frosty spring,
Themselves to equal indigence may bring.
CCLIII. WILL. GIFFORD, 1756—1826.
I WISH I WAS WHERE ANNA LIES.
I wish I was where Anna lies,
For I am sick of lingering here;
And every hour Affection cries,
“Go and partake her humble bier."
I wish I could; for when she died,
I lost my all ; and life has proved,
Since that sad hour, a dreary void,
A waste unlovely and unloved.
But who, when I am turn’d to clay,
Shall duly to her grave repair,
And pluck the ragged moss away,
And weeds, that have“ no business there.'
And who with pious hand shall bring
The flowers she cherish’d, snowdrops cold,
The violets that unheeded spring,
To scatter o'er her hallow'd mould ?
And who, while Memory loves to dwell
Upon her name for ever dear,
Shalì feel his heart with passion swell,
pour the bitter, bitter tear ?
I did it; and, would fate allow,
Should visit still, should still deplore;
But health and strength have left me now,
And I, alas, can weep no more.
Take then, sweet maid, this simple strain,
The last I offer at thy shrine;
Thy grave must then undeck'd remain,
And all thy memory fade with mine.
And can thy soft persuasive look,
Thy voice, that might with music vie,
Thy air, that every gazer took,
Thy matchless eloquence of eye ;
Thy spirits frolicsome as good,
Thy courage, by no ills dismay'd,
Thy patience, by no wrongs subdued,
Thy gay good-humour, can they fade ?
Perhaps—But sorrow dims my eye:
Cold turf, which I no more must view.
Dear name, which I no more must sigh,
A long, a last, a sad adieu.
CCLIV. DR JOHN BIDLAKE, 1755—1***.
How grateful now to trace the devious course
Oi some wild pastoral stream, that changes oft
Its varied lapse; and ever as it winds,
Enchantment follows, and new beauties rise.
O Nature ! lovely Nature! thou canst give
Delight thyself a thousand ways, and lend
To every object charms! With thee, e'en brooks
A higher relish gain. The poet's lay
Grows sweeter in the shade of wavy woods,
Or lulling lapse of crystal stream beside ;
Dim umbrage lends to philosophic lore
Severer thought; and meditation leads
Her pupil, wisdom, to the green resort
Of solemn silence, her inspiring school.
CCLV. SAMUEL CROXALL, 17**-17**
Waft me, some soft and cooling breeze,
To Windsor's shady kind retreat,
Where sylvan scenes, wide-spreading trees,
Repel the dog-star's raging heat:
Where tufted grass
Afford a rural calm repose :
Where woodbines hang their dewy heads,
And fragrant sweets around disclose.
Old oozy Thames, that flows fast by,
Along the smiling valley plays;
His glassy suriace cheers the eye,
And thro' the flow'ry meadow strays.