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Like wither'd beechen leaf of former year,
That clings amid the growing buds of Spring.
While youth, like ship that skims the tropic sea,
And holds, in changeless breeze, unceasing course,
Exults in swelling sails, and views at ease
The wonders round of all her joyful way;
Amused by every theme, and cheer'd anew
By hopes at eve of more successful morn:-
But languid age is lost to every joy,
Like wearied ship whose guide, at boisterous eve,
By rocky soundings harsh, and breaking waves,
Is told of coast unseen, the ceaseless dread
Of men from long and erring voyage come;
What then affords him joy? When setting sun
Gleams stormy far astern, can he regard
The beauteous rainbow form’d amid the spray,
his highest sail ? or count its hues,
That brighter shine as wilder dash the waves ?
No: he but thinks of dread approaching night,
When men that watch but spend their toil in vain,
And men that sleep but dream of leeward shore.
And such, my son, is age: the themes of men
Are tasteless all and vain; the memory shrinks
From recollections long of wasted time;
And chilly fears await the hour of death."
With many an effort kind of cheerful love,
Such thoughts of sadness tried the youth to cheer ;
And oft the veteran's kindling memory led
To youthful days in patriot duties pass’d,
When not unnoticed he had shared the fame
By Britain earn'd, and given his arduous aid
To rear for Indian worlds the glorious frame,
Where sceptred Order firmly sits enthroned,
And spreads protection round the busy land ;
While near her feet, to giant boldness nursed,
Young Science drinks secure the streams of truth,
Erst timid lapp'd, like draught from Nilus' stream,
By him who fears the crocodile conceald
Amid the shaking reeds : And round the land
Now hush'd from wars, and fill’d with tranquil peace,
The small still sound of fair Religion's voice
May glad at length be heard. Such favours high
Have British toils on Indian land conferr'd.
“ Such praise, my sire, thy youthful labours shared ;
Such honours fair thy peaceful age adorn:
Nor mid the orchard fairer seems the tree
In flowery May, than mid the fading year,
When yellow leaves o'erspread the autumn bough,
And deeply red the fruitage shines beneath,
Rewarding full the toils of arduous Spring."
The Veteran heard ; and, sooth, the pleasing tale
With glow of pride oft cheer'd his darkening mind,
And chased each moodier thought.
Then sought the youth Some newest guest from Britain's lands to bring, (When guest from Britain sought that distant shore) Whose cheerful tale of fond remember'd hoine, (For home, to exile's latest breath is dear,) Might wake remembrance glad :—who told of deeds In distant lands by generous Britons done : Of power and riches gain'd: of stubborn wars Through many an arduous year by Britons fought:
Of fame by sea, and glories reap'd on land,
Against the iron foe.
Nor less of peace,
Where arts advance on young discovery's wing,
And toil grows rich, the Veteran loves to hear :
Perchance the stranger tells, that arts improved,
With boundless good have mixture brought of ill ;
For now, to nicest rule each practice bound,
The master's art less needs of servant's skill,
And less of kindness marks their mutual tie;
The poor, perchance, less independent seem,
And rich employers more, perchance, are proud ;-
But tale like this, with cold reluctant ear
Old Hubert hears: his country's cherish'd fame,
Like pledge of earliest love, some jewel kept,
He would not now, in age, see false estcem'ı.
But o'er his sparkling eye the patriot smile
Exulting beams, as tells the traveller glad
How British arts through every farthest land
Extend their widening marts ;-how savage men
From sluggish misery roused, seek eager
Amid the wealth of all their regions wild,
(Neglected else and waste,) for equal price
Of British merchandise,-ihe magic lamp
Of happier, wiser life :-how British power,
Like giant guide, prepares the paths of men
Through every ocean strange, and leads the fleets
Of distant worlds, with richest commerce fraught,
Through strait and gulf, where once the savage tribes
To ceaseless war sent forth their puny
fleets Athirst for blood, and wing’d with minim sails, Like insect swarm, seen white in evening sun.
Such tale from stranger guest the Veteran lov’d,
Of Britain's fame, to hear : nor less to list
That stranger's question, much enquiring still
Of Hubert's wanderings o'er the Indian land,
Where he, adopted child of eastern clime,
Hail all its various tribes familiar known,
And, unrestrain’d, each savage rite beheld,
Of war or peace; in hold of Indian chief,
Or hamlet wild, from changeful towns remote,
And marts where strangers come, his social step
Had mingled free, in all their scenes of joy,
And all their griefs had known. Yet, sooth to tell,
So well the Veteran loved those Indians kind;
So oft the mild Hindoo had bound his wounds;
So oft, on fainting march, had quench'd his thirst
With wine from cooling palm delicious drawn,
Or tended kind his couch of sickness spread
Amid their huts remote,-that scarce he loved,
For strangers prying gaze, the veil to lift,
Whose decent shade their ruder faults conceals,
And oft he tells, that, far receding back
Before the peaceful light of British rule,
Each grosser rite now seeks, abash’d, the shade
Where Native Anarchy still holds her court,
'Mid distant tribes, by fierce divisions torn.
Thus pass'd the Veteran's peaceful eve of life,
At times with cloud of passing sadness dimm’d;
More oft in tranquil joy, encircled kind
With family of youth. Like setting sun,
Which youthful peasant bids his sire behold,
When eve of May invites the tottering sage
To balmy walk, and shines the level beam
In soft transparence thro' the leafy crown
Of spreading beech that decks their humble cot,
Where all the hopes of spring are glittering round.
“ And thou, my son, (thus spoke the aged man,
Now fill’d with length of days, and waiting mild
For hour of rest,) thy hand has led my steps
Amid the vale of years ; thine anxious care
Has cheer’d my gloomier hours, and kind has borne
The fretfulness of age :-May watchful heaven
Protect thy steps, and all my blessing aid !
Soon number'd low with all my parted friends
This head shall lie: my Mary's sainted shade,
So long companion loved, awaits my flight;
And he whose hand so oft amid the deeds
Of danger's hottest hour, was link'd to mine,
The faithful Nursoo ! oft to nightly dreams,
Comes, warning mild of death, and waits at times
To speak some tale of friendship's earliest days,
Or tell of toils and piercing sufferings borne,
That bid the memory shrink, and yet are loved
For recollections dear of mutual aid :
Awake, I live with thee ; yet scarce my thoughts
Even then, can leave the brighter pictures seen
In dreams of night, when friends departed coine
And speak with me, and act again the deeds
Where each supported each, and grateful souls
Received impressions deep of mutual love.
But soon the hour will come ! my longing soul
Shall soon rejoin the friends of ancient
And men of kindred life : with thee I leave
My fondest care, my young Phoolranee's love,
And yield in willing trust my life to Heaven."
The sun of eve now sheds his parting ray
Athwart the Veteran's grave. In wild recess
Is placed his humble tomb, amid the ground,
Where Britain's sons in Indian land are laid:
And there at last he joins the crowds of dead,
Whose race of life with him in youth began.
Here oft at eve his daughter duteous comes
With flowers, her Indian rite, his tomb to strew;
And lingering ʼmid the graves, I've seen her oft,
Low bending, seek the honour'd names to read
Of men her sire had loved,-slow passing on,
And pondering sad amid the scenes of death.
But lo! the sun descends; the woods around
Throw wild a deepening shade. Each mournful rite
Around old Hubert's grave has now been paid.
His daughter gathers sad one simplest flower
Of all the store she strew'd; then turning slow,
She leaves the place of tombs. Beside the gate,
With prattling son, her husband meets her steps,
To cheer her sad return, and guidė her path
Amid the deepening night ; where, mournful seen
In glimmering light, the Indian's funeral piles
With all their mourners round,* now frequent shine. * The Hindoos' custom of burning their dead has often been mentioned. These cre. mations often take place in the evening; and as the friends or relations of the deceased are always present, the appearance of so many persons in the eastern dress, seen at night by the gleams of such a fire, makes an impression on European strangers not soon to be forgotten.
LINES WRITTEN IN A BRITISH BURIAL GROUND IN INDIA,
HERE ʼmidst the glade of loneliest Indian wood,
Where circling palms shut out the rays of morn,
Are laid the British dead.
How deeply sad
The bosom waxes here ! no sacred pile
Here calls the heart from brooding o'er the grave,
Or spreads its holier influence round the scene.
No father here, beside the ancient church,
May shew his sons their honour'd grandsire's tomb,
Or point the spot where near that sacred dust
Would he recline, his worldly labours done :-
No haven this of rest, where hopes and toils
Are glad resign'd, and mortals long to sleep :-
Nor this the place, where wearied traveller comes,
His long pursuit of wealth and greatness o'er,
To lay his aged head amid the dust,
Where sleep the bones of all his ancestry,
No:-lies the stranger here by strangers' side;
And here the traveller sinks whom death has seized
Amid the busy road, while cheerful hope
Urged eager course, and promised safe return.
No brother here nor sire, may pour the flood
Of sorrowing kindness o'er the wanderer's grave;
A passing stranger's tears are all that flow!
And oft such stranger, here is mournful seen,
Like peasant wending forth at early dawn
From some impending rock the field to view,
Whence all the livelong night, the battle's roar
Had kept his trembling family awake,
Who sees beneath the thousand fragments strew'd
Of war and death, who hears the rising groan
Of wounded men, wide weltering far below,-
And weeps to think that each complaining voice
There raised unpitied, once, like him, could call
Some mother's fondest aid, or wife's beloved.
And yet, though here no sorrowing kinsman's hand
Performs the sacred rites; - no parent comes
To weep the son, who, ʼmid his race of fame,
Has fall’n untimely ;-yet the tribute sad,
Which mourning friendship here unceasing pours
Amid the stranger's land, even wakes the heart
To deeper sympathy. How sad the tears
That silent fall o'er yonder sculptured tomb,
That speaks the love by British soldiers felt
For brother hero fall’n! recounting sad
The social fire that warm'd his generous heart,
His deeds of worth, his patriot valour shewn!
What heart but feels their grief? they saw him fall
Companion tried in toils of fiercest war-
Associate loved in all their earliest hopes
As fainting mariners, before the storm,
Behold some comrade brave (who strives on high
To furl the rending sail) shook furious down
Amid the boiling ocean-seen to swim
One moment blind, then all ingulph'd in death.
Beneath yon arching palm, where, 'mid the boughs,
The careless cližnber fills his gourd with wine,
A Briton's wife has found an Indian grave.-
She left her gay companions-left her home,
To bless, in Eastern clime, the lover's arms
Whose young attentions gain’d her virgin heart:
With venturous love she braved the Antarctic storm,
Nor shrunk from scorching rays of Indian sun.
She met her lover: There on Indian shore
Stood he, to watch for her, whose parting smile
Still fill'd his heart, and oft had cheer'd his dream
In wild Mahratta tent, or Gorkah town;
But short the union given : like budded rose,
But pluck'd to fade, her drooping head reclined
On breast beloved, and sunk to earliest death.
Perchance in lone recess the tomb is seen Of him, whose valour gain’d to British arms Their earliest triumph here. Methinks I see His spirit stern come hovering round, to mark That empire, now complete, which he had plann'd Through many a conflict fierce; ere yet his arm, From roaming bands of wild insulting foe, Could well the spot secure where now repose His honour'd bones. The firm resolve was his, That, ʼmid repeated failure, waits the hour, When proud success shall blind o’erweening foes :The stern rebuke, that awes dissentient friends, Yet not offends their pride ; like fierce command Of skilful pilot, ʼmid the strengthening storm, For common safety given ;-the watchful eye, That knows by instant glance the fated hour To seize success, or rally from defeat:All these were his; and all were still required 'Mid savage clime, and floods of circling foes, For British fame foundation meet to place, Where now triumphal arch is raised secure, And high display'd her sovereign banners shine.
Another tomb, for milder sage is rear'd,The man of peace : in long succeeding time Came he, with tranquil sway, to rule the plains, By sterner virtues gain'd; to win the tribes From superstitions dire, and wild misrule. And deep his skill, to lure their fetter'd minds From savage rites, by tyrant Brahmans forced On man's reluctant heart; but, cautious still, Aware how soon the jealous Indian shrinks From meddling stranger, all the paths he shunn'd Where angry prejudice stood centinel, And no congenial feeling watch'd within To aid his purposed good. Before his tomb The passing Indian bows, and loves to tell, How he, that stranger sage, even deeper still Than native Brahman, through the sacred book Of Menu's laws had pierced ; and oft could guide The Pundit's wilder'd steps in Indian lore.
Behind yon shrubs, in corner verdant spread, Lies crowd of nameless graves :—The soldier there, Whose vigour pined before the Indian sun, Now uncomplaining sleeps: his languid eye Had oft with envy seen his comrades call’d, In cheerful bands, to join the active war,