Page images





ANCIENT dame, how wide and vast,

To a race like ours appears, Rounded to an orb at last,

All thy multitude of years ! , We, the herd of humankind,

Frailer and of feebler powers; We, to narrow bounds confined,

Soon exhaust the sum of ours. Death's delicious banquet-we

Perish even from the womb, Swifter than a shadow flee,

Nourish'd but to feed the tomb. Seeds of merciless disease

Lurk in all that we enjoy; Some that waste us by degrees,

Some that suddenly destroy. And if life o'erleap the bourn,

Common to the sons of men, What remains, but that we mourn,

Dream, and dote, and drivel then ? Fast as moons can wax and wane,

Sorrow comes; and, while we groan, Pant with anguish, and complain,

Half our years are fled and gone. VOL. II.

If a few (to few 'tis given),

Lingering on this earthly stage, Creep and halt, with steps uneven,

To the period of an age,

Wherefore live they, but to see

Cunning, arrogance, and force, Sights lamented much by thee,

Holding their accustom'd course?

Oft was seen, in ages past,

All that we with wonder view; Often shall be to the last;

Earth produces nothing new.

Thee we gratulate; content,

Should propitious Heaven design Life for us, as calmly spent,

Though but half the length of thine.

Two neighbours furiously dispute ;
A field—the subject of the suit.
Trivial the spot, yet such the rage
With which the combatants engage
'Twere hard to tell who covets most
The prize--at whatsoever cost.

The pleadings swell. Words still suffice; · No single word but has its price:

No term but yields some fair pretence
For novel and increased expense.

Defendant thus becomes a name,
Which he that bore it may disclaim;
Since both, in one description blended,
Are plaintiffs—when the suit is ended.



The beams of April, ere it goes,
A worm scarce visible disclose;
All winter long content to dwell
The tenant of his native shell.
The same prolific season gives
The sustenance by which he lives,
The mulberry leaf, a simple store,
That serves him—till he needs no more!
For, his dimensions once complete,
Thenceforth none ever sees him eat;
Though, till his growing time be pass'd,
Scarce ever is he seen to fast.
That hour arrived, his work begins;
He spins and weaves, and weaves and spins;
Till circle upon circle wound
Careless around him and around,
Conceals him with a veil, though slight,
Impervious to the keenest sight.
Thus self enclosed, as in a cask,
At length he finishes his task:

And though a worm, when he was lost,
Or caterpillar at the most,
When next we see him, wings he wears,
And in papilio pomp appears;
Becomes oviparous; supplies
With future worms and future flies
The next ensuing year;—and dies !
Well were it for the world, if all
Who creep about this earthly ball,
Though shorter lived than most he be,
Were useful in their kind as he.



Not a flower can be found in the fields,

Or the spot that we till for our pleasure, From the largest to least, but it yields

The Bee, never wearied, a treasure.

Scarce any she quits unexplored,

With a diligence truly exact;
Yet steal what she may for her hoard,

Leaves evidence none of the fact.

Her lucrative task she pursues,

And pilfers with so much address That none of their odour they lose,

Nor charm by their beauty the less,

Not thus inoffensively preys

The canker-worm, indwelling foe!
His voracity not thus allays

The sparrow, the finch, or the crow.
The worm, more expensively fed,

T'he pride of the garden devours;
And birds peck the seed from the bed,

Still less to be spared than the flowers.

But she, with such delicate skill,

Her pillage so fits for her use
That the chemist in vain with his still

Would labour the like to produce.

Then grudge not her temperate meals,

Nor a benefit blame as a theft;
Since, stole she not all that she steals,

Neither honey nor wax would be left.


DENNER'S OLD WOMAN. In this mimic form of a matron in years, How plainly the pencil of Denner appears ! The matron herself, in whose old age we see Not a trace of decline, what a wonder is she! No dimness of eye, and no cheek hanging low, No wrinkle or deep-furrow'd frown on the brow! Her forehead indeed is here circled around With locks like the riband with which they are bound;

« PreviousContinue »