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The Baptist found him far too deep;
The Deist sighed with saving sorrow; And the lean Levite went to sleep,
And dreamed of tasting pork tomorrow.
His sermon never said or showed
That Earth is foul, that Heaven is gracious, Without refreshment on the road
From Jerome, or from Athanasius ; And sure a righteous zeal inspired
The hand and head that penned and planned them, For all who understood, admired,
And some who did not understand them.
He wrote, too, in a quiet way,
Small treatises, and smaller verses ; And sage remarks on chalk and clay,
And hints to noble lords and nurses ; True histories of last year's ghost,
Lines to a ringlet or a turban ; And trifles for the Morning Post,
And nothings for Sylvanus Urban.
He did not think all mischief fair,
Although he had a knack of joking; He did not make himself a bear,
Although he had a taste for smoking: And when religious sects ran mad,
He held, in spite of all his learning, That if a man's belief is bad,
It will not be improved by burning.
And he was kind, and loved to sit
In the low hut or garnished cottage, And praise the farmer's homely wit,
And share the widow's homelier pottage: At his approach complaint grew mild,
And when his hand unbarred the shutter, The clammy lips of Fever smiled
The welcome which they could not utter.
He always had a tale for me
Of Julius Cæsar or of Venus :
Cat’s cradle, leap-frog, and Quce genus ; I used to singe his powdered wig,
To steal the staff he put such trust in; And make the puppy dance a jig
When he began to quote Augustine.
Alack the change! in vain I look
For haunts in which my boyhood trifed ; The level lawn, the trickling brook,
The trees I climbed, the beds I rifled : The church is larger than before;
You reach it by a carriage entry : It holds three hundred people more:
And pews are fitted up for gentry.
Sit in the Vicar's seat: you'll hear
The doctrine of a gentle Johnian, Whose hand is white, whose tone is clear,
Whose phrase is very Ciceronian.
Where is the old man laid ?-look down,
And construe on the slab before you, Hic JACET GVLIELMVS BROWN,
VIR NULLA NON DONANDUS LAURA. (1829.)
“Fallentis semita vitæ."
NEAR a small village in the West,
Where many very worthy people
To guard from evil Church and Steeple,
A tenement of brick and plaster, Of which, for forty years and four,
My good friend Quince was lord and master !
Welcome was he in hut and hall,
To maids and matrons, peers and peasants, He won the sympathies of all,
By making puns and making presents; Though all the parish were at strife,
He kept his counsel and his carriage, And laughed and loved a quiet life,
And shrank from Chancery suits and—marriage.
Sound was his claret and his head;
Warm was his double ale—and feelings; His partners at the whist club said,
That he was faultless in his dealingsHe went to church but once a week;
Yet Dr. Poundtext always found him An upright man, who studied Greek,
And liked to see his friends around him.
Asylumns, hospitals, and schools,
He used to swear were made to cozen ; All who subscribed to them were fools,
And he subscribed to half a dozen ; It was his doctrine that the poor
Were always able, never willing; And so the beggar at his door
Had first abuse, and then a shilling.
Some public principles he had,
But was no flatterer, nor fretter;
And said, “I cannot make them better!”
And much he scorned the placeman's snuffle, And cut the fiercest quarrels short,
With—“Patience, gentlemen, and shuffle."
For full ten years his pointer, Speed,
Had couched beneath her master's table; For twice ten years his old white steed
Had fattened in his master's stable
Old Quince averred, upon his troth,
They were the ugliest beasts in Devon; And none knew why he fed them both,
With his own hands, six days in seven.
Whene’er they heard his ring or knock,
Quicker than thought, the village slatterns Flung down the novel, smoothed the frock,
And took up Mrs. Glasse, and patterns; Adine was studying baker's bills;
Louisa looked the queen of knitters; Jane happened to be hemming frills;
And Bell, by chance, was making fritters.
But all was vain ; and while decay
Came like a tranquil moonlight o'er him, And found him gouty still, and gay,
With no fair nurse to bless or bore him ; His rugged smile, and easy chair,
His dread of matrimonial lectures, His wig, his stick, his powdered hair,
Were themes for very strange conjectures.
Some sages thought the stars above
Had crazed him with excess of knowledge; Some heard he had been crossed in love,
Before he came away from collegeSome darkly hinted that his Grace
Did nothing, great or small, without him, Some whispered with a solemn face,
That there was something odd about him !