* The provincial pronunciation of Stokdalewath.
OR, THE CUMBRIAN VILLAGE.
1 FROM where dark clouds of curling smoke arise,
2 And the tall column mounts into the skies;
3 Where the grim arches of the forge appear,
4 Whose fluted pillars prop the thickening air;
5 Where domes of peers and humble roofs are found
6 Alike to spread their mingled vapours round;
7 From denser air and busy towns I run,
8 To catch a glimpse of the unclouded sun;
9 Foe to the toils which wealth and pomp create,
10 And all the hard-wrought tinsel of the great.
11 Aurora now had left her crimson bed,
12 And the sky glowed with pure reflected red;
13 The moving stars withdrew their timorous light,
14 As her gilt chariot burst upon the sight;
15 The glittering pearls that gentle Eve had born,
16 Were all adorning the sweet brow of Morn;[Page 2]
17 And every shrub, and every opening flower,
18 Unlock'd some jewel for the rising hour.
19 Meanwhile unseen the fragrant zephyr flew,
20 And gather'd essence from the balmy dew;
21 I wander'd on, till Fancy bade me stay,
22 And spend with Health and her one holiday.
23 Where the clear stream its useful tenor holds,
24 And the shorn flocks come whiten'd from the folds;
25 Where on each side the cottages are seen,
26 Which orchards shelter, and which poplars screen;
27 There many an apple, in autumnal pride,
28 Glows with red cheek, and blushes side by side;
29 Which with nice care is lock'd in oaken chest,
30 Till Christmas comes, and tarts draw out the feast.
31 Nor does the garden useful herbs deny,
32 Fenc'd round with thorns that point their spears on high;
33 There the thyme blows, from which brown bees distil
34 The sweets that all their waxen storehouse fill.
35 The parsley next extends its useful row,
36 And marjorum sweet is ever taught to grow;
37 Next balm, and sage, and hyssop, physic yield,
38 With cordial mint, the doctor of the field.
39 There spreading cabbage all their strength produce,
40 And take firm root to stand for winter's use.
41 Carrots and turnips Sunday-feasts, supply,
42 Till blest potatoes meet the thankful eye.
43 There the tall pea in stately grandeur stalks,
44 And humbler bean midst her own fragrance walks.
45 The ripening currant many a warbler brings,
46 'Mongst whom the blackbird spreads his sooty wings. [Page 3]
47 But O! forbear with lure or artful snare
48 To trap this sweetest songster of the air,
49 Nor quench in darkness his quick visual ray,
50 Shut out from liberty and glorious day.
51 Enough, enough! while to the cage confin'd,
52 Through all the house his wilding wood-notes wind;
53 Let him at least the gift of light retain,
54 Nor hear his whistling pipe with conscious pain!
55 And, look, where ornament her care bestows!
56 Above the lily nods the blushing rose,
57 The fringing poppy and the peony vie
58 Which shall look gayest in the village eye.
59 Nor think not these unmeet for Sunday's pride,
60 When with a woollen thread the nosegay's tied!
61 There southernweed, and thyme, like broom, behold
62 Spreading their shade o'er the dark marigold.
63 Sweetwilliam next, in wig of early pride,
64 Smiles on himself as if his bob he eyed;
65 The rose and lily round the posy stray,
66 And in the church waft faintness far away,
67 When tir'd with walking many a sultry morn
68 Through new cut hay, or fields of standing corn;
69 E'en while at prayers a sudden chillness steals,
70 And all the heart the creeping sickness feels;
71 No salts are there, — yet thyme and mint renew
72 The wasting sense, and cheer from pew to pew.
73 But now the sun sends forth his scorching rays,
74 And the hot cattle startling cease to graze;
75 While to the pool, or darkest shade they hie,
76 And with the scourging tail whip off th' offending fly. [Page 4]
77 Along the path that winds around the hill
78 You lose the milkmaid — though you hear her still.
79 At the last fair she caught yon thrilling lay,
80 And now the woods repeat "Auld Robin Gray." * * It may not be uninteresting to remark, that while Miss Blamire, at the time she was expressing, though unconsciously, this well-merited compliment to a sister poetess, Lady Anne Lindsay, was at the same time furnishing us with a fact very nearly fixing the date of the composition of her own poem. Lady Anne, writing to Sir Walter Scott, says: "'Robin Gray,' so called from its being the name of the old herd at Balcarras, was born soon after the close of the year 1771. ****** At our fire-side, and amongst our neighbours (it) was always called for." As may be well conceived, it instantly started into popularity, and the mention here made of the milk-maid's having got it at the last fair, may indicate the manner how it crossed the Border, and about the time when "The Cumbrian Village" was composed. The air to which "Auld Robin Gray" was then sung would, in all probability, be the old Scotch one to which Lady Anne wrote it; the air to which it is now generally sung, was composed some considerable time afterwards by the late Rev. W. Leeves, Rector of Wrington, near Bristol, the friend ofMrs Hannah More.
81 The waving pail swims lightly on her head,
82 For equal steps to measur'd music tread.
83 Adown the stream where woods begin to throw
84 Their verdant arms around the rocks below,
85 A rustic bridge across the tide is thrown,
86 Where briars and woodbine hide the hoary stone,
87 A simple arch salutes th' admiring eye,
88 And the mill's clack the tumbling waves supply. [Page 5]
89 But lest society some loss should share,
90 And nearest neighbours lack their neighbour's fare,
91 The tottering step-stones cross the stream are laid,
92 O'er which trips lightly many a busy maid,
93 And many a matron, when one failing cow
94 Bids no big cheese within the cheese-vat grow,
95 Their wealthier neighbour then, her bowls to swell,
96 Will gladly take what they as gladly sell.
97 The morning toils are now completely o'er,
98 The bowls well scalded, and well swept the floor.
99 The daughter at the needle plies the seam,
100 While the good mother hastens to the stream:
101 There the long webs, that wintry moons began,
102 Lie stretch'd and beaming in the summer's sun;
103 And lest he scorch them in his fervid hours,
104 She scoops along the nice conducted showers;
105 Till like the snow, that tips the mountain's height,
106 The brown's dull shade gives place to purest white;
107 While her sweet child knee-deep is wading seen,
108 Picking bright stones, or tumbling on the green.
109 But now the sun's bright whirling wheels appear
110 On the broad front of noon, in full career,
111 A sign more welcome hangs not in the air,
112 For now the sister's call the brothers hear;
113 Dinner's the word, and every cave around
114 Devours the voice, and feasts upon the sound.
115 'Tis dinner, father! all the brothers cry,
116 Throw down the spade, and heave the pickaxe by;
117 'Tis dinner, father! home they panting go,
118 While the tired parent still pants on more slow. [Page 6]
119 Now the fried rasher meets them on the way,
120 And savoury pancakes welcome steams convey.
121 Their pace they mend, till at the pump they stand,
122 Deluge the face, and purify the hand,
123 And then to dinner. There the women wait,
124 And the tired father fills his chair of state;
125 Smoking potatoes meet their thankful eyes,
126 And Hunger wafts the grateful sacrifice;
127 To her libations of sweet milk are pour'd,
128 And Peace and Plenty watch around the board.
129 Now, till the sun has somewhat sunk in height,
130 Yet long before he dips his wheels in night,
131 The nut-brown labourers their senses steep
132 In the soft dews of renovating sleep;
133 The worthy sire to the soft bed repairs,
134 The sons beneath the shade forget their cares.
135 The clock strikes two, it beats upon the ear,
136 And soon the parent's anxious voice they hear;
137 Come, come, my lads, you must not sleep all day!
138 They rub their eyes, start up, then stalk away.
139 But let me not at twelve forget to eye
140 The learned school-dame's jumping, shrill-ton'd fry.
141 Some near at home to dinner dancing run,
142 Eager for play when the repast is done;
143 Others more distant, bring their satchel'd fare
144 Safely infolded by a mother's care.
145 On a wood trencher stands the tower-like pie,
146 While bread and cheese form battlements on high;
147 A crust for 'tween-meals in a corner stows,
148 And guarded butter oaten-cakes enclose;[Page 7]
149 And shining tin-flasks of new milk, which seem
150 Best to demand the name of good thick cream!
151 The dinner done; the happy train so gay,
152 In various groups disperse to various play;
153 Some to the hounded-hare the sinews strain,
154 And fleet as greyhounds scour along the plain.
155 At last the hare through all her windings caught
156 Gets leave to breathe, and breath brings change of thought;
157 For races some, but more for foot-ball cry,
158 Mark out their ground, and toss the globe on high;
159 The well fought field deals many a galling stroke,
160 And many a chief's o'erthrown, and many a shin is broke.
161 These active feats, while manly imps essay,
162 The gentler sex choose out a gentler play;
163 They form a smiling circle on the green,
164 Where chuckstones, dolls, and totums, all are seen;
165 A nest of linnets, a few happy elves,
166 Run home to see if yet they pick themselves,
167 Though but an hour ago their throats they cramm'd,
168 And chirp'd, and cheep'd, and well the mother shamm'd.
169 Escap'd in happy hour from rod-taught lore,
170 Their books forgot, nor work remember'd more;
171 All share the joy, but one imprison'd slave,
172 Who from offended worth no boon would save.
173 The dame he said was like a clocking hen,
174 Who ne'er would let them out when it did rain;
175 And if again his hands she dar'd to switch,
176 He'd call her to her face a wrinkl'd witch.
177 This told a wheedler, much dislik'd by all,
178 Whom in abhorrence they tale-pyet call,[Page 8]
179 Who for a raisin or a fig would tell
180 Faults of a brother he lov'd ne'er so well;
181 Th' offender's soul no threaten'd pain unbends,
182 Nor with the dame will his proud heart be friends,
183 He loves her not; for this the hour of play,
184 And much-wish'd dinner, both are snatch'd away.
185 And now the dame in neat white mob is seen,
186 Her russet gown, silk kerchief, apron clean,
187 At the school door her tremulous voice is heard,
188 And the blithe game's unwillingly deferr'd.
189 From noon till morn rests female toil; save come
190 The evening hours when lowing cows draw home.
191 Now the good neighbour walks her friend to see,
192 And knit an hour, and drink a dish of tea.
193 She comes unlook'd for, — wheat-bread is to seek,
194 The baker has none, got no yeast last week;
195 And little Peggy thinks herself ill sped,
196 Though she has got a great piece gingerbread.
197 Home she returns, but disappointment's trace
198 Darkens her eye, and lengthens all her face;
199 She whispers lowly in her sister's ear,
200 Scarce can restrain the glistening, swelling tear.
201 The mother marks, and to the milk-house goes,
202 Blythe Peggy smiles, she well the errand knows
203 There from the bowl where cream so coolly swims,
204 The future butter generously skims,
205 And, flour commixing, forms a rural bread
206 That for the wheaten loaf oft stands in stead;
207 Cup after cup sends steaming circles round,
208 And oft the weak tea's in the full pot drown'd;[Page 9]
209 It matters not, for while their news they tell
210 The mind's content, and all things move on well.
211 The sun has now his saffron robe put on,
212 Stept from his chariot that with rubies shone,
213 The glittering monarch gains the western gate,
214 And for a moment shines in regal state;
215 His streaming mantle floats along the sky,
216 While he glides softly from the gazing eye;
217 From saffron tinge to yellow soon it flew,
218 Sea-green the next, and then to darkest blue.
219 Now different cares employ the village train,
220 The rich in cattle press the milky vein;
221 When, lo! a voice sends direful notes around,
222 And sharp vexation mingles in the sound;
223 'Tis little Peggy, she the pail would fill,
224 And on old Hawky try her early skill.
225 She strok'd and clapp'd her, but she'd not allow;
226 The well known hand best pleased the knowing cow;
227 Tho' cabbage leaves before her band was cast,
228 Hawky refus'd the coaxing rich repast;
229 And when the little hand unapt she found,
230 She kick'd, and whelm'd her on the slippery ground.
231 Along yon hedge now mouldering and decay'd,
232 In gather'd heaps you see the fragments laid;
233 Piled up with care to swell the nightly blaze,
234 And in the widow's hut a fire to raise.
235 See where she comes with her blue apron full,
236 Crown'd with some scatter'd locks of dingy wool.
237 In years she seems, and on her well patch'd clothes
238 Want much has added to her other woes. [Page 10]
239 There is a poor-house; but some little pride
240 Forbids her there her humbled head to hide;
241 O'er former scenes of better days she runs,
242 And every thing like degradation shuns!
243 Now hooded Eve slow gliding comes in view,
244 Busied in threading pearls of diamond dew;
245 Waking the flowers that early close the eye,
246 And giving drops to those that else would die.
247 And what is man but such a tender flower,
248 That buds, blooms, fades, and dies within the hour?
249 Where round yon cottage the rosemary grows,
250 And turncap lilies flaunt beside the rose,
251 Two aged females turn the weary wheel,
252 And, as they turn, their slumbering thoughts reveal:
253 "How long is't, think ye, since th' old style was lost
254 Poor England may remember't to her cost!
255 E'er since that time the weather has grown cold,
256 (For Jane forgets that she is now grown old).
257 I knew when I liv'd servant at Woodmile,
258 So scorching hot the weather was in April,
259 The cows would startle, and by ten o'clock
260 My master us'd his horses to unyoke;
261 'Tis not so now; the sun has lost its power;
262 The very apples now-a-days are sour!
263 Could not the Parson tell the reason why
264 There are such changes both in earth and sky?"
265 "'Tis not these only," Margaret replied,
266 "For many a change besides have I espied.
267 Look at the girls! — they all dress now-a-days
268 Like them fine folk who act them nonsense plays! [Page 11]
269 No more the decent mob surrounds the face,
270 Border'd with edging, or bit good bone-lace;
271 Gauze flappets soon — that will not last a day —
272 We'll see them flaunting whilst they're making hay!
273 All things are chang'd, the world's turned upside down,
274 And every servant wears a cotton gown,
275 Bit flimsy things, that have no strength to wear,
276 And will like any blotting-paper tear!
277 I made my Nelly a half-worsted gown,
278 She slighting told me 't would not do in town!
279 This pride! this pride! it sure must have a fall,
280 And bring some heavy judgment on us all!
281 They're grown so bold too, and their lads allow,
282 When courting them, to skulk behind a cow,
283 Till all's in bed. My John, when courting me,
284 Us'd after supper to come manfully;
285 For oft he us'd to say he knew no place
286 Where honesty need fear to shew its face.
287 No more it need! My master us'd to cry, —
288 He fear'd but two things — to turn thief, and lie."
289 The leading crow her colony brings home,
290 And two by two they seek their leafy dome.
291 Of all the branches that invite to rest,
292 Each loves the one that hangs above its nest;
293 What though of rudest architecture made,
294 Nor thorns surrounding nor with clay inlaid,
295 Yet 'tis the spot where infant days began,
296 That thus attaches both the crow and man!
297 Now on the green the youth their gambols keep,
298 Stretching their sinews in the bounding leap;[Page 12]
299 Others the wrestler's glory would maintain,
300 Twist the strong nerve and fill the swelling vein;
301 One youth his pipe blows from the rocky hill,
302 Seated like Pan above the clacking mill;
303 Another strikes the violin's cheerful string,
304 Light to the dance the bounding virgins spring:
305 'Tis most part nature, yet some art is found
306 When one — two — three lies heavy on the ground;
307 For 'tis not airy feet which seem to fly,
308 Then come descended quivering from the sky,
309 Nor form that every Grace was known to bend,
310 Nor foot that every feathered Hour would lend,
311 Has any merit here; — but feet of sound,
312 Which tabour-like re-echo on the ground;
313 Or as the drum a certain sound repeats,
314 Flutters now low, and then in thunder beats;
315 From Nature and from Art how wide the sphere
316 Courts unimprov'd would be what you see here.
317 Now Eve had sprinkled every flower with dew,
318 And her gauze hood was wet and dripping through;
319 A light grey cloak to the warm fleece allied,
320 Her chilly fingers close and closer tied,
321 That, with a fur-lined cap, the ears' delight,
322 Was given her by her elder sister Night.
323 From walks retired, that shun the inquiring view,
324 A faithful couple to the shades withdrew.
325 The maid had every blush that bloom can give,
326 Where youth fresh glowing bids the blossom live,
327 And the fair cheek, with lilies all bespread,
328 Shades the full rose, and hides its bolder red,[Page 13]
329 Pure as the drop that in the early morn
330 Hangs with such sweetness smiling on the thorn,
331 Artless as youth before the cranky wile
332 Shadows the frown, or plays within the smile;
333 She moves, the wonder of the rural plain,
334 And many a sigh steals to her ear in vain.
335 A youth there was like her, of better mould,
336 Whose soul deem'd lightly of the weight of gold.
337 Around his birth some favouring fortune shone,
338 Which some call merit, though no way their own;
339 The Church was laid out as his rising line,
340 Himself delighting in the text divine;
341 That text, at home by country masters taught,
342 Might stint the learning but keep back the fault,
343 For sure great knowledge we should all despise,
344 Unless the man be virtuous as he's wise.
345 The mother's eye had long o'er all her son
346 With many a fear, and much observance run,
347 Seen where beneath the elms a path was worn, —
348 Mark'd him at pensive eve, and laughing morn
349 Still seek the shade, — now with sad step, and slow,
350 With folded arms, and head declining low;
351 Then livelier thoughts awake a quicker pace,
352 And hope breaks out and glows along his face.
353 Thus to the partner of her thirty years
354 She soft began: — Thou calmer of my fears,
355 Oft has thy firmer mind my sorrows stilled,
356 As from thy lips thy better sense distilled,
357 Hast thou observ'd our dearest hope of late?
358 Whose spirits flag with some uncommon weight, —[Page 14]
359 Some secret anguish sickens o'er his soul,
360 And silent night has seen the torrent roll,
361 The wandering stream has from his eyelids crept,
362 And his moist pillow shown he has not slept.
363 My life, rejoin'd the father, in thy mind
364 The mist of tenderness the optics blind,
365 Imagin'd ills from feeling ever flow,
366 All things look big when seen through clouds of woe;
367 I've mark'd no difference save what study brings,
368 They all turn grave who search the source of things.
369 This not believing, ceas'd she to reply,
370 But still sent forth her keen inquiring eye,
371 Mark'd when sweet Anna's name breath'd in the sound,
372 How quick his eye sprung from the thoughtful ground;
373 And when just praise the beauteous maid would grace,
374 Joy smooth'd his brow, and blushes dyed his face.
375 This wak'd suspicion — rumour told the whole,
376 And now she knew what sicken'd o'er his soul.
377 The father skill'd in all the ways of man,
378 Thus, to his mate affectionate, began:
379 In all distempers of the feverish mind,
380 The greatest good from change of scene we find.
381 Tho' one dear object, touchstone of our woe,
382 Seems to go with us wheresoe'er we go,
383 Yet gay variety divides the view, —
384 Spite of ourselves we gaze at what is new;
385 Back-turning thought will far-past scenes survey,
386 That fainter grow, worn out by length of way;
387 A softer mist o'er every object spreads,
388 Figures grow dim, and towers scarce shew their heads:[Page 15]
389 Back-turning thought strains his sunk hollow eye,
390 But scenes retire, and dearest objects fly;
391 He lags no more — by soft degrees is stole
392 The keenest anguish that inwraps the soul.
393 To college, then, our sorrowing son shall go,
394 New loves, or friends, shall wear out all his woe;
395 Ideas changing as new views arise
396 Let in new light, and almost change the eyes;
397 Objects adored, that matchless seem'd before,
398 Excite no wonder, and delight no more.
399 The mother sigh'd, the starting tear withheld,
400 To her fond partner ever fond to yield;
401 Nor ever felt she what is call'd command,
402 His wish grew hers in magic quickness bland.
403 And now Pretence had whisper'd to the maid
404 Thro' all the wood her new wash'd flock had stray'd;
405 The youth too sought the shade in hopes to clear
406 Her pearl-set eye that hung with many a tear.
407 Far from the uproar of the loud cascade,
408 Where the slow stream crept softly to the shade,
409 Beneath a rock with venturous trees o'erhung,
410 That seem by some enchantment to have sprang,
411 For the scant soil nor moss nor grass bestows,
412 But yawning cliffs the sinewy roots expose;
413 There on her cheek the roses felt the dew,
414 Which drop by drop extracts their softest hue:
415 "Why weeps my Anna? Sure she knows this heart,
416 And knows in absence we but seem to part;
417 Though mountains rise, and the slow weary day
418 Draws out the journey a long length of way,[Page 16]
419 Yet trust me, Anna, still my soul shall be
420 Chain'd to thy soul, and never part from thee!"
421 Sweet Anna shook her head — sad sighs oppose
422 The labouring words that to the threshold rose;
423 The lip kept moving, but no accent fell,
424 Yet the round tear perhaps can speak as well.
425 "O cease, my Anna, or declare thy fears,
426 I cannot, cannot bear these softening tears!
427 What have I done to tempt thy generous mind
428 To form a thought that I can grow unkind?"
429 "Nothing" — she sobb'd, — "but — but it cannot be —
430 But every eye must take delight in thee!
431 Some maid whom education softens o'er,
432 To whose rich mind each day keeps adding more;
433 Whose winning manners mixed with every grace,
434 Invite the eye, and keep it from the face, —
435 And, when she speaks, Persuasion's lyre is strung,
436 And the sweet words come warbling from her tongue;
437 If such a one thy heart in fetters hold, —
438 For I have not one fear from sordid gold,
439 I shall not blame my William, — still may he
440 Taste every bless, whate'er becomes of me."
441 "Dearest of women," William thus rejoined,
442 "How can such fears e'er cloud so bright a mind!
443 In finer arts I know some may excel,
444 Some have more grace, and some few speak as well
445 Yet the sweet accent will but thrill my ear,
446 Trust me, my Anna, 't will not reach me here.
447 This heart is thine, and every faithful chord
448 Will only vibrate to thy well known word:[Page 17]
449 From infant years thy growing worth I've known,
450 Our wish the same, and our delights but one;
451 Believest thou this? The winged hours shall press
452 One after one, to crown my happiness;
453 The day shall come when I shall claim my own,
454 And freely to the world my love make known."
455 So saying, to their homes they separate go,
456 He more at ease — she something less in woe.
457 In this gay village hangs a wonderous sign,
458 The Hounds and Hare are the immense design.
459 There hunters crack their whips, and seem to bound
460 O'er every hedge, nor touch the mimic ground;
461 The huntsman winds his horn, his big cheeks swell,
462 And whippers-in make lagging terriers yell;
463 The sportive scene tempts many a wight to stay,
464 As to the school he drags th' unwilling way.
465 Around the front inviting benches wait,
466 Conscious of many a glass and sage debate;
467 The great man of the village cracks his joke,
468 Reads o'er the news, and whiffs the curling smoke;
469 Tells tales of old, and nods, and heaves the can,
470 Makes fixed decrees, and seems much more than man.
471 "Come, Jack, sit down. Thy father, man, and me,
472 Broke many a glass, and many a freak had we.
473 'Twas when he sought thy mother, at Carel Fair
474 (I mind the corn was very bad that year)
475 We met thy mother and my wife i' the street,
476 And took them into Beck's to get a treat;
477 Blind Joseph played, and I took out thy mother,
478 Thy father, he was shy, he got another;[Page 18]
479 And when I took her back, as you may see,
480 I whipp'd her blushing on thy father's knee.
481 Then in came Robin Bell, who lik'd her too,
482 And bit his lip, and turn'd both red and blue,
483 Teas'd her to dance, as you may see, and then
484 Kept her himself, nor brought her back again.
485 I fir'd at this, while up thy father rose,
486 Gave him a kick, and tweak'd him by the nose.
487 They stripped to fight, as you may see, and I
488 In seeing fair play got a blacken'd eye;
489 I durst not shew my face at home next day,
490 But bade my mother say I went away,
491 But kept my bed, i'fegs, as you may see;
492 Who is it now fights for their lasses? eh!"
493 The blacksmith laugh'd, the cobbler gave a smile,
494 And the pleas'd tailor scratch'd his head the while.
495 But hark! what sounds of mingl'd joy and woe
496 From yon poor cottage bursting seem to flow.
497 'Tis honest Sarah. Sixpence-Harry's come,
498 And, after all his toils, got safely home.
499 "Welcome, old soldier, welcome from the wars!
500 Honour the man, my lads, seam'd o'er with scars!
501 Come give's thy hand, and bring the t' other can,
502 And tell us all thou'st done, and seen, my man."
503 Now expectation stares in every eye,
504 The jaw falls down, and every soul draws nigh,
505 With ear turn'd up, and head held all awry.
506 "Why, sir, the papers tell you all that's done,
507 What battle's lost, and what is hardly won. [Page 19]
508 But when the eye looks into private woes,
509 And sees the grief that from one battle flows,
510 Small cause of triumph can the bravest feel,
511 For never yet were brave hearts made of steel.
512 It happen'd once, in storming of a town,
513 When our bold men had push'd the ramparts down,
514 We found them starving, the last loaf was gone,
515 Beef was exhausted, and they flour had none;
516 Their springs we drain, to ditches yet they fly —
517 The stagnant ditch lent treacherous supply;
518 For soon the putrid source their blood distains,
519 And the quick fever hastens through their veins.
520 In the same room the dying and the dead —
521 Nay, sometimes, even in the self-same bed, —
522 You saw the mother with her children lie,
523 None but the father left to close the sunken eye.
524 In a dark corner, once myself I found
525 A youth whose blood was pouring through the wound;
526 No sister's hand, no tender mother's eye
527 To stanch that wound was fondly watching by;
528 Famine had done her work, and low were laid
529 The loving mother and the blooming maid.
530 He rais'd his eyes, and bade me strike the blow,
531 I've nought to lose, he cried, so fear no foe;
532 No foe is near, I softly made reply,
533 A soldier, friend, would save and not destroy.
534 A drop of cordial in my flask I found;
535 (And I myself am sovereign for a wound;
536 I'll bleed you all, lads! if you should be ill,
537 And in the toothache I've no little skill. [Page 20]
538 Our drummer too, poor man, dealt much in horns,
539 And I've his very knack of cutting corns.)
540 Well; as I dress'd the youth, I found 'twas he
541 That oft had charm'd the sentinels and me;
542 From post to post like lightning he would fly,
543 And pour down thunder from his red-hot sky;
544 We prais'd him for't, — so I my captain told,
545 For well I knew he lik'd the foe that's bold;
546 So then the surgeon took him in his charge,
547 And the captain made him prisoner at large. "
548 " Was he a Spanishman, or Frenchman, whether?
549 But it's no matter; they're all rogues together! "
550 " You're much mistaken: Goodness I have found
551 Spring like the grass that clothes the common ground;
552 Some more, some less, you know, grows every where;
553 Some soils are fertile, and some are but bare.
554 Nay, 'mongst the Indians I've found kindly cheer,
555 And as much pity as I could do here!
556 Once in their woods I stray'd a length of way,
557 And thought I'd known the path that homeward lay;
558 We'd gone to forage, but I lost the rest,
559 Which, till quite out of hearing, never guess'd.
560 I hollow'd loud, some voices made reply,
561 But not my comrades; not one friend was nigh.
562 Some men appear'd, their faces painted o'er,
563 The wampum-belt, and tomahawk they bore;
564 Their ears were hung with beads, that largely spread
565 A breadth of wing, and cover'd half the head.
566 I kiss'd the ground; one older than the rest
567 Stepp'd forth, and laid his hand upon my breast,[Page 21]
568 Then seiz'd my arms, and sign'd that I should go,
569 And learn with them to bend the sturdy bow:
570 I bow'd and follow'd; sadly did I mourn,
571 And never more expected to return. "
572 Here Sarah sobb'd, and stepp'd behind the door,
573 And with her tears bedew'd the dusty floor.
574 " We travell'd on some days through woods alone,
575 At length we reach'd their happy silent home.
576 A few green acres the whole plot compose,
577 Which woods surround, and fencing rocks enclose,
578 Skirting whose banks, a river fond of play
579 Sometimes stood still, and sometimes ran away;
580 The branching deer would drink the dimpl'd tide,
581 And crop the wild herbs on its flowery side, —
582 Around the silent hut would sometimes stray,
583 Then, at the sight of man, bound swift away;
584 But all in vain; the hunter's flying dart
585 Springs from the bow, and quivers in the heart.
586 A mother and four daughters here we found,
587 With shells encircled, and with feathers crown'd,
588 Bright pebbles shone amidst the plaited hair,
589 While lesser shells surround the moon-like ear.
590 With screams at sight of me away they flew
591 (For fear or pleasure springs from what is new);
592 Then, to their brothers, screaming still they ran,
593 Thinking my clothes and me the self-same man;
594 When bolder grown, they ventur'd something near,
595 Light touch'd my coat, but started back with fear.
596 When time and use had chas'd their fears away,
597 And I had learned some few short words to say,[Page 22]
598 They oft would tell me, would I but allow
599 The rampant lion to o'erhang my brow,
600 And on my cheek the spotted leopard wear,
601 Stretch out my ears, and let my arms go bare. "
602 " O mercy on us? "cried the listeners round,
603 Their gaping wonder bursting into sound.
604 " Tho' different in their manners, yet their heart
605 Was equal mine in every better part.
606 Brave to a fault, if courage fault can be;
607 Kind to their fellows, doubly kind to me.
608 Some little arts my travell'd judgment taught,
609 Which, tho' a prize to them, seem'd greater than they ought.
610 "Needless with bows for me the woods to roam,
611 I therefore tried to do some good at home.
612 The birds, or deer, or boars, were all their food,
613 Save the swift salmon of the silver flood;
614 And when long storms the winter-stores would drain,
615 Hunger might ask the stinted meal in vain.
616 Some goats I saw that brows'd the rocks among,
617 And oft I thought to trap their playful young;
618 But not till first a fencing hedge surrounds
619 Their future fields, and the enclosure bounds;
620 For many a father owns a hatchet here,
621 Which falls descending to his wealthy heir.
622 The playful kid we from the pitfall bring,
623 O'erspread with earth, and many a tempting thing;
624 Light lay the branches o'er the treacherous deep,
625 And favourite herbs among the long grass creep.
626 The little prisoner soon is taught to stand,
627 And crop the food from the betrayer's hand. [Page 23]
628 A winter-store now rose up to their view,
629 And in another field the clover grew;
630 But, without scythes or hooks, how could we lay
631 The ridgy swathe and turn it into hay;
632 At last, of stone we form'd a sort of spade,
633 Broad at the end, and sharp, for cutting made;
634 We push'd along, the tender grass gave way,
635 And soon the sun turn'd every pile to hay.
636 It was not long before the flocks increased,
637 And I first gave the unknown milky feast.
638 Some clay I found, and useful bowls I made,
639 Tho', I must own, I marr'd the potter's trade;
640 Yet use is every thing — they did the same
641 As if from China the rude vessels came.
642 The curdling cheese I taught them next to press;
643 And twirl'd on strings the roasting meat to dress.
644 In all the woods the Indian corn was found,
645 Whose grains I scatter'd in the faithful ground;
646 The willing soil leaves little here to do,
647 Or asks the furrows of the searching plough;
648 Yet something like one with delight I made,
649 For tedious are the labours of the spade,
650 The coulter and the sock were pointed stone,
651 The eager brothers drew the traces on,
652 I stalk'd behind, and threw the faithful grain,
653 And wooden harrows closed the earth again:
654 Soon sprung the seed, and soon 'twas in the ear,
655 Nor wait the golden sheaves the falling year;
656 In this vast clime two harvests lead the field,
657 And fifty crops th' exhaustless soil can yield. [Page 24]
658 "Some bricks I burnt, and now a house arose,
659 Finer than aught the Indian chieftain knows;
660 A wicker door, with clay-like plaster lin'd,
661 Serv'd to exclude the piercing wintry wind;
662 A horn-glaz'd window gave a scanty light,
663 But lamps cheer'd up the gloom of lengthen'd night;
664 The cotton shrub through all the woods had run,
665 And plenteous wicks our rocks and spindles spun.
666 Around their fields the yam I taught to grow,
667 With all the fruits they either love or know.
668 The bed I rais'd from the damp earth, and now
669 Some little comfort walk'd our dwelling through.
670 My fame was spread: the neighbouring Indians came,
671 View'd all our works, and strove to do the same.
672 The wampum-belt my growing fame records,
673 That tells great actions without help of words.
674 I gain'd much honour, and each friend would bring
675 'Mong various presents many a high-priz'd thing.
676 And when, with many a prayer, I ask once more
677 To seek my friends, and wander to the shore,
678 They all consent, — but drop a sorrowing tear,
679 While many a friend his load of skins would bear.
680 Riches were mine; but fate will'd it not
681 They grew the treasure of the Spanish foe;
682 My Indian friends threw down their fleecy load,
683 And, like the bounding elk, leap'd back into the wood.
684 "What though a prisoner! countrymen I found,
685 Heard my own tongue, and bless'd the cheerful sound;
686 It seem'd to me as if my home was there,
687 And every dearest friend would soon appear. [Page 25]
688 At length a cartel gave us back to share
689 The wounds and dangers of a bloody war.
690 Peace dawn'd at last, and now the sails were spread,
691 Some climb the ship unhurt, some few half dead.
692 Not this afflicts the gallant soldier's mind,
693 What is't to him tho' limbs are left behind!
694 Chelsea a crutch and bench will yet supply,
695 And be the veteran's dear lost limb and eye!
696 "When English ground first struck the sailor's view,
697 Huzza! for England, roar'd the jovial crew.
698 The waving crutch leaped up in every hand,
699 While one poor leg was left alone to stand;
700 The very name another limb bestows,
701 And through the artery the blood now flows.
702 We reach'd the shore, and kiss'd the much-lov'd ground,
703 And fondly fancied friends would crowd around;
704 But few with wretchedness acquaintance claim,
705 And little pride is every where the same.
706 "In coming down, the seeing eye of day
707 Darken'd around me, and I lost my way.
708 Where'er a light shot glimmering through the trees,
709 I thither urg'd my weary trembling knees,
710 Tapp'd at the door, and begg'd, in piteous tone,
711 They'd let a wandering soldier find his home;
712 They barr'd the door, and bade me beg elsewhere,
713 They'd no spare beds for vagabonds to share.
714 This was the tale where'er I made a halt,
715 And greater houses grew upon the fault;
716 The dog was loos'd to keep me far at bay,
717 And saucy footmen bade me walk away,[Page 26]
718 Or else a constable should find a home
719 For wandering captains from the wars new come.
720 Alas! thought I, is this the soldier's praise
721 For loss of health, of limb, and length of days?
722 And is this England? — England, my delight!
723 For whom I thought it glory but to fight —
724 That has no covert for the soldier's night!
725 I turn'd half fainting, led through all the gloom
726 By the faint glimmerings of the clouded moon.
727 One path I kept, that seem'd at times to end,
728 And oft refus'd the guiding clew to lend;
729 The thread unhop'd as oft again I found,
730 Till it forsook the open fields around;
731 By slow degrees, to towering woods it crept,
732 As if beneath their shade it nightly slept.
733 I here had halted, lest some beasts of prey,
734 In midnight theft, had pac'd the treacherous way,
735 But that a twinkling light sometimes appear'd,
736 Sometimes grew dim, and sometimes brightly clear'd
737 This could not be the lure of beasts of prey;
738 They know no art of imitating day,
739 Much pleas'd I thought. The mazy path yet led
740 Through shrubby copse, by taller trees o'erspread;
741 A wimpling rill ran on, and wreath'd its way
742 Through tufts of flowers, that made its borders gay;
743 And now a rock the parting leaves unfold,
744 On which a withering oak had long grown old,
745 The curling ivy oft attempts to hide
746 Its sad decay, with robes of verdant pride,[Page 27]
747 Yet through her leafy garb the eye can peer,
748 And see it buys the youthful dress too dear.
749 A hollow cavern now methought I spied,
750 Where clustering grapes came wandering down its side,
751 Between whose leaves a ray of light would dart,
752 That both rejoic'd and terrified my heart.
753 I ventur'd in, — my breath I scarcely drew,
754 Nought save a taper met my wondering view;
755 An inner cavern beamed with fuller light,
756 And gave a holy hermit to my sight;
757 Himself and Piety seem'd but the same,
758 And Wisdom for grey hairs another name;
759 Some traces yet of sorrow might be found,
760 That o'er his features walk'd their pensive round;
761 Devotion seem'd to bid them not to stray,
762 But human feelings gave the wanderers way.
763 His eye he rais'd from the instructive page,
764 An eye more sunk by wearing grief than age;
765 Surprise a moment o'er his features spread,
766 And gave them back their once accustom'd red."
767 "Welcome my son — a hermit's welcome share,
768 And let the welcome mend the scanty fare.
769 A soldier's toils the softest couch requires,
770 The strengthening food, and renovating fires;
771 Not such the hermit's needy cell bestows,
772 Pamper'd alone by luxury of woes,
773 The falling tears bedew the crusty bread,
774 And the moss pillow props the weary head;
775 The limpid brook the heats of thirst allay,
776 And gather'd fruits the toilsome search repay;[Page 28]
777 When hunger calls, these are a feastful store,
778 And languid Sorrow asks for nothing more;
779 Sufficient that her eye unseen can weep,
780 Stream while awake, and flow yet more in sleep.
781 'Tis now twelve years since Solitude first drew
782 Her closing curtain round my opening view,
783 Since first I left my once delightful home,
784 Along with Grief and Solitude to roam."
785 Much I express'd my wonder, how a mind
786 So stor'd as his could herd from all mankind.
787 "You speak," he said, "like one whose soul is free,
788 Slave to no wish, nor chain'd to misery.
789 When ceaseless anguish clouds the summer's sky,
790 And fairest prospects tarnish in the eye;
791 When cheerful scenes spread every lure in vain,
792 And sweet Society but adds to pain;
793 When weeping Memory incessant brings
794 The sad reversion of all former things,
795 And show-like Fancy all her colouring lends,
796 To gild those views that opened with our friends:
797 When joyful days through the whole year would run,
798 And Mirth set out and travel with the sun;
799 When Youth and Pleasure hand in hand would stray,
800 And every month was little less than May;
801 When changing Fortune shifts th' incessant scene,
802 And only points to where our joys have been,
803 Is it a wonder from the world we run,
804 And all its fleeting empty pageants shun?
805 "There is a something in a well known view,
806 That seems to shew our long past pleasures through;[Page 29]
807 Sure in the eye a fairy land is found,
808 When former scenes bring former friends around.
809 Let but the woods, the rocks, the streams appear,
810 And every friend you see and think you hear;
811 Their words, their dress, their every look, you find
812 Swell to the sight, and burst upon the mind;
813 Though many a spring has lent the blossom gay,
814 And many an autumn blown the leaf away,
815 Unchang'd the lasting images remain,
816 Of which Remembrance ever holds the chain.
817 E'en the mind's eye a glassy mirror shews,
818 And far too deeply her bold pencil draws;
819 The life-like pictures rise before the sight,
820 Glow through the day, and sparkle through the night.
821 Ah! sure e'en now my Ethelind appears,
822 Though dimly seen through this sad vale of tears.
823 That winning form, where elegance has wove
824 The thousand softnesses of gentlest love;
825 That meaning eye, that artless blushing cheek,
826 Which leaves so little for the tongue to speak;
827 The nameless graces of her polish'd mind;
828 That laughing wit, and serious sense refined;
829 That altogether which no art can reach,
830 And which 'tis nature's very rare to teach;
831 That nameless something which pervades the soul,
832 Wins not by halves, but captivates the whole;
833 Yet, if one feature shone before the rest,
834 'Twas surely Pity by Religion drest.
835 Have I not seen the softly stealing tear,
836 Hung in her eye, like gem in Ethiop's ear! [Page 30]
837 Whilst the dark orb the glittering diamond shed,
838 From her fair cheek the frighten'd roses fled,
839 Asham'd that, such a gem so sweetly clear,
840 Aught, save the lily, should presume to wear.
841 "Sure there's a pleasure in recounting woes!
842 And some relief in every tear that flows!
843 Else why call back those days for ever flown,
844 And with them every joy this heart can own?
845 Pleasure and pain is the sad mixture still,
846 Taste but the good, and you must taste the ill;
847 Dear Recollection is a sorceress fair
848 That brings up pleasures livelier than they were;
849 Delighted Fancy dwells upon the view,
850 Compares old scenes with what she meets with new;
851 The present hour grows dull, her charms decay,
852 And, one by one, drop silently away.
853 Neglect succeeds — Neglect, the worst of foes,
854 That married love or single friendship knows,
855 Whose torpid soul congeal'd in stupor lies,
856 Nor sees one charm, nor hears the smothering sighs;
857 Sees not the hourly load of comforts brought
858 By fond affection, watching every thought,
859 Nor the heart beating with the wish to please, —
860 Cold, cold Neglect, nor hears, nor feels, nor sees!
861 "Thus, in the present hour too, oft slides by
862 The many a charm that might detain the eye;
863 But just as if from woes we could not part,
864 We veil the sight, and close shut up the heart;
865 So I myself would ne'er forget the day
866 When Ethelinda vowed her heart away. [Page 31]
867 Our births were equal, but exalted views
868 For the fair daughter bade the sire refuse.
869 O'er seas I roam, in quest of much-priz'd wealth,
870 Though, after all, the greatest good is health!
871 Where'er I roam'd, my Ethelind was there,
872 My soul's companion join'd me every where;
873 Whatever scenes entrapped my travelling eye,
874 My fancied Ethelind stood smiling by,
875 Her just opinion met my listening ear,
876 And her remarks on men, and climes, I hear.
877 This was not absence, or it was a dream,
878 Which, though unreal, yet would real seem.
879 Each day the tongue-like pen some story told,
880 Of growing love, or less increasing gold;
881 Yet fortune frown'd not; and, in lengthening time,
882 One day I saw that mark'd her to be mine.
883 Hail! heaven-taught letters, that through years convey
884 The deathless thought, as if just breath'd to-day!
885 That gives the converse of an absent friend,
886 And, for a moment, makes that absence end;
887 For, while the eager eyes the lines run o'er,
888 Distance steps back, and drags the chain no more;
889 For one short moment the dear friends we see
890 Close by our side, just as they used to be.
891 Such sweet delusions are not form'd to last,
892 And Fancy's visions far too soon are past.
893 No such delights my heart-wrote lines attend,
894 They met the hand of a deceitful friend;
895 Her brother, anxious for a lord's success,
896 Thought it no sin to blast my happiness,[Page 32]
897 Kept up my letters, and base stories told,
898 That I had sold myself to age, and gold.
899 Her good opinion baffled long the tale,
900 And love for long kept down the struggling scale.
901 But when, from year to year, Hope pointed on,
902 And the last hope with the last year was gone,
903 She tried to think I must be base, and strove
904 To scorn the man who could give up her love;
905 Yet her soft heart no other flame confessed,
906 It lodged the tenant of her faithful breast.
907 "Home I return'd, much wearied out with woes,
908 And every fear that fretful silence knows.
909 Fear for her death was far my greatest dread;
910 How could I bear to think her with the dead!
911 Did she but live, methought my griefs might end,
912 When the warm lover cool'd into the friend.
913 I reach'd my home, and quick inquiries made,
914 Found her unmarried — found she was not dead.
915 And now, to know the cause of all my woe,
916 With hope and fear, and joy, and grief, I go;
917 A thousand fears would stop me in my way,
918 A thousand hopes forbid one moment's stay.
919 As nigh the house with anxious step I drew,
920 Fond recollections crowded all the view;
921 I felt a tear creep round and round my eye,
922 That shame of man, and yet I know not why.
923 While at the door her faithful maid I saw,
924 The short quick breath I scarce had power to draw;
925 Where — is — your la — my lips no more would move.
926 " She's in the arbour, sir, you us'd to love. " [Page 33]
927 " Something like hope a cordial drop bestow'd,
928 The heart grew warm, and the pale cheek now glow'd.
929 Near to the arbour silently I drew,
930 And trembling look'd the leafy lattice through;
931 The sprightly air which once lit up her face,
932 To pensive softness long had given place;
933 Its gentle charms around her features crowd,
934 And tenderest feeling her fine figure bow'd;
935 More dear she seem'd, more interesting far,
936 Than when her eye was call'd the evening star;
937 On her fair hand she lean'd her drooping head,
938 And many a tear bedew'd the page she read;
939 'Twas Milton's Paradise — the book I knew,
940 Once my own profile on the leaf I drew,
941 And wrote beneath this truth-dictated line —
942 'With thee conversing I forget all time;'
943 Her eye I saw ran every feature o'er,
944 And scann'd the line where truth seem'd writ no more;
945 She shook her head, its meaning well I knew:
946 "'Twas even thus, ye once lov'd lines adieu;"
947 The book she shut — so softly was it clos'd,
948 As if life's joys alone were there repos'd.
949 "I walk'd around, the crimping grass would say, —
950 Some heavy foot has brush'd our dews away;
951 She started up, and, shaking off the tear,
952 Strove hard to make the pearl-set eye more clear;
953 But when my form the parting leaves betray'd,
954 And fuller light around my features play'd,
955 She grows a statue, wrought by Michael's art,
956 A marble figure, with a human heart,[Page 34]
957 More pale, more cold, than Medici can seem,
958 Or all the forms that from the quarry teem.
959 I bow'd, but spoke not, injur'd as I thought,
960 And wishing much to show the sense I ought;
961 I durst not trust th' impatient tongue to move,
962 For, ah! I felt it would but talk of love.
963 I silent stand." "What art thou, vision, say,
964 Why dost thou cross a wretched wanderer's way?
965 Sure 'tis the whimsy of a feverish mind
966 That fancies forms none but itself can find!"
967 "I bow'd again." "Oh! speak if thou art he
968 That once was dear — so very dear to me?"
969 "Yes, Ethelind, most sure — too sure I'm he
970 That once was dear, so very dear to thee;
971 Why has thy heart its fondness all forborne
972 To swell my sails, and ask my quick return?"
973 "A married man! — she sharply made reply,"
974 With much resentment sparkling in her eye, —
975 "A married man has every right to hear
976 What thoughts pursue us through the changing year!
977 Yes, I will tell you: happy was the day
978 In which you gave your heart and hand away.
979 I gave not mine, yet free from every vow
980 That would have tied me to a wretch like you.
981 I feel as blissful in my single state,
982 As you, no doubt, feel in your wealthy mate!"
983 She rose to go: "My Ethelind, forbear!
984 Some cruel monster has abus'd your ear;
985 Your faithful lover see before you stand,
986 Your faithful lover dares to claim your hand;[Page 35]
987 No other vows that plighted faith could stain,
988 No other loves melt o'er this heart again!
989 Let easy fortune nameless comforts spread,
990 And slope for life the soft descending tread.
991 No needful cares, to study how the year
992 Shall rule its squares, and run its circles clear;
993 The generous hand no close restraint shall know,
994 But opening bounty from the fingers flow.
995 The saddest sight the pitying eyes receive,
996 Is to see wretchedness with nought to give;
997 The heart-wrung tear, though e'er so fully shed,
998 Brings no warm clothing, and affords no bread.
999 On you shall pleasure wait with ready call,
1000 Speed to the play, or hasten to the ball;
1001 Where safest ease her flowery carpet throws,
1002 And gilded domes their rainbow-lights dispose;
1003 Where splendour turns e'en common things to show,
1004 And plain good comforts ornamental grow.
1005 'Midst scenes like these would Ethelinda blaze,
1006 While wreathing diamonds lend their mingling rays;
1007 Wealth is her own, for it is mine to give,
1008 As it is hers, to bid me how to live.
1009 But should domestic peace her soul allure,
1010 For splendour but hides grief, it cannot cure, —
1011 If in sweet converse hours should steal away,
1012 While we still wander at the close of day;
1013 If every wish preventing love should see,
1014 And all the world we to ourselves should be,
1015 I only wait the soft assenting smile,
1016 To be whate'er her heart would ask the while;[Page 36]
1017 O yes, dear friend! I yet can read the line,
1018 ' With thee conversing I forget all time; '
1019 Domestic peace has every charm for me,
1020 How doubly charming when enjoy'd with thee!
1021 "Now honour pleaded that my fame should bleed.
1022 And life is rul'd by her detested creed;
1023 This idol, honour, at whose shrine appears
1024 The heart-broke friend, dissolv'd in endless tears.
1025 He, fiery youth, impatient of control,
1026 And the grey veteran sorry from his soul,
1027 Th' injuring and the injur'd both repair,
1028 And both expect her laurel wreath to wear;
1029 It matters not where right or wrong began,
1030 The man who fights must be an honest man,
1031 Though every baseness that the heart can know
1032 Should damp his soul, and keep his sword in awe;
1033 Sole proof of excellence such warriors give —
1034 Wretches who die, because they dare not live!
1035 The guilty breast is ever up in arms,
1036 And the least look the conscious soul alarms!
1037 Should your quick eye the shuffling card detect,
1038 Or should the gamester think you but suspect,
1039 His injur'd honour dares you to the fight,
1040 And all the world admits the challenge right!
1041 Not to accept it blasts a virtuous fame,
1042 And links your memory with eternal shame;
1043 It matters not though pure your life appears
1044 On the long record of revolving years;
1045 Though heaven you fear, arid heaven's forbidding law,
1046 That stamps him criminal who dares to draw,[Page 37]
1047 Yet man, vain man, breaks through the laws of heaven,
1048 Dies by the sword, and hopes to be forgiven;
1049 For what we duels from high fashion call,
1050 Is Suicide, or Murder, after all!
1051 "Sometimes the heart almost approves the deed,
1052 When barbarous wounds make reputation bleed;
1053 Of all the crimes of any shape or dye,
1054 That looks the blackest in true feeling's eye,
1055 If a dear sister's purity we feel,
1056 Nature cries out — where is th' avenging steel?
1057 Avenging steel! how impotent the word,
1058 And all the threats and cures that tend the sword!
1059 "Sweet Reputation, like a lily fair,
1060 Scents every breath that winnows through the air;
1061 The colouring sunbeam on its whiteness plays,
1062 And dances round and round with gilding rays;
1063 Anon dark clouds these gilding rays withhold,
1064 And the leaf shrivels with the sudden cold;
1065 A blighting vapour sails along the skies,
1066 And the meek lily droops its head, and dies:
1067 Nor can a sword, or the depending pen,
1068 Clear the lost female character again;
1069 The vindication better never hear, —
1070 That fame is safest that has nought to clear;
1071 And female fame is such a tender flower,
1072 It cannot even bear a pitying shower;
1073 Courage in man is something near as nice,
1074 Which life must buy, and wear at any price.
1075 "Much 'gainst my conscience, and against heaven's law,
1076 My destin'd brother to account I draw;[Page 38]
1077 Against his life I meant no hand to rear, —
1078 I meant but with the world to settle clear;
1079 A self-defense, e'en in th' appointed field,
1080 Was all the sword I ever thought to wield.
1081 Hard was the onset; in the fatal strife
1082 His hand I saw aim'd only at my life;
1083 I wav'd its point, still hoping to disarm,
1084 And guard both lives secure from every harm.
1085 I parried long; he made a lounging stroke,
1086 And my sad weapon in his bosom broke."
1087 "'Tis past he said — much injur'd man, adieu!
1088 I've done you wrong — but you'll forgive it now."
1089 "In that sad moment every pang I found
1090 That darts through father's, brother's, sister's, wound!
1091 In what new lights I then saw Honour's creed,
1092 How sunk in sin seem'd the detested deed;
1093 The world's applause was stripped of all its charms,
1094 And the whole Conscience met the Man in arms,
1095 Guilt, sorrow, pity, warr'd within the breast,
1096 With sad remorse, that never can have rest.
1097 My weeping Ethelind now, too, I saw,
1098 Lost in the floods of never ending woe!
1099 For, ah! what woes can ever hope an end
1100 That mourn a brother slaughter'd by a friend!
1101 Then from his breast some brief, brief lines he drew, —
1102 The blots were many, though the words were few:"
1103 "Fly me, for ever, it is time we part,
1104 You've kill'd a brother, and you've broke a heart."
1105 "Tortur'd in soul from place to place I flew,
1106 But swift-wing'd thought as swiftly would pursue;[Page 39]
1107 Unless from memory our thoughts can run,
1108 How vain to journey round and round the sun.
1109 At last this solitude my sorrow sought,
1110 For cities leave no bar for entering thought;
1111 I here have liv'd, in hopes the time will come,
1112 That makes my cell my wish'd-for silent tomb."
1113 "His tears fresh flow'd, and mine ran down my cheek,
1114 Our griefs were such as neither tongue could speak;
1115 At last we parted — he to endless woe,
1116 While happy I to wife and children go."
1117 Now scolding Nancy to the ale-house flies —
1118 "What are you doing — hearing Harry's lies!
1119 Thomas, get in, and do not sit to drink,
1120 There's work enough at home, if you would think!"
1121 And now the sisters take their evening walk;
1122 One fam'd for goodness, and one fam'd for joke,
1123 For physic, too, some little is renown'd,
1124 With every salve that loves to heal the wound;
1125 The pulse she feels with true mysterious air,
1126 While Mrs Graham of strengthening broths takes care.
1127 That sickness must be hopeless of all end,
1128 Which her good home-made wine no way can mend;
1129 The brother then his skill of medicine tries,
1130 And rarely in his hands the lingering patient dies.
1131 Now the white owl flits o'er the dusky ground,
1132 Foreruns the night, and makes his trumpet sound.
1133 The winds are lull'd asleep, and now you hear
1134 The murmuring stream hum slumber in your ear.
1135 Sweet Row, flow on, and be thy little vale
1136 The future glory of the happy tale;[Page 40]
1137 Long be thy banks bespread as they are now
1138 With nibbling sheep, or richer feeding cow;
1139 With rock, and scar, and cottage on the hill,
1140 With curling smoke, and busy useful mill;
1141 Long may yon trees afford their leafy screen,
1142 And long from winter save the fading green;
1143 In every season in their speckled pride,
1144 Safe may the trout through all thy windings glide;
1145 Safe may the fowl adown thy waters swim,
1146 Bathe the webb'd foot, or o'er thy mirror skim,
1147 Nor yet the schoolboy cast the deadly stone,
1148 And take that life, no frailer than his own;
1149 For peace and plenty, and the cheerful tale,
1150 For happy wives, for mirth, and honest ale,
1151 For maidens fair, and swains of matchless truth,
1152 And all the openness of artless youth,
1153 Whene'er a Cumbrian Village shall be fam'd,
1154 Let Stoklewath be not the last that's nam'd!