« PreviousContinue »
Your hope to please him vain on every plan,
Himself should work that wonder, if he can.
Alas ! his efforts double his distress.
He likes yours little, and his own still less;
Thus always teasing others, always teased,
His only pleasure is to be displeased.
I pity bashful men, who feel the pain
Of fancied scorn and undeserved disdain,
And bear the marks upon a blushing face
Of needless shame and self-imposed disgrace.
Our sensibilities are so acute,
The fear of being silent makes us mute.
We sometimes think we could a speech produco
Much to the purpose, if our tongues were loose;
But being tried, it dies upon the lip,
Faint as a chicken's note that has the pip;
Our wasted oil un profitably burns,
Like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns.
On the Receipt of his Mother's Picture.
Oh that those lips had language! Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard the last.
Those lips are thine--thy own sweet smiles I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
Voice only fails, else, how distinct they say:
Grieve not, my child ; chase all thy fears away!'
The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
Blest be the art that can immortalise,
The art that baffles time's tyrannic claim
To quench it-here shines on me still the same.
Faithful remembrancer of one so dear,
O welcome guest, though unexpected here !
Who bidd'st me honour, with an artless song
Affectionate, a mother lost so long.
I will obey, not willingly alone,
But gladly, as the precept were her own:
And while that face renews my filial grief,
Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief;
Shall steep me in Elysian reverie,
A momentary dream, that thou art she.
My mother! when I learned that thou wast dead,
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ?
Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun ?
Perhaps thou gavest me, though unseen, a kiss;
Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss
Ah, that maternal smile! it aitswers--yes.
I heard the bell tolled on thy burial-day,
I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away,
And turning from my nurs-ry window, drew
A long, long sigh, and wept a vast adieu !
But was it such ? It was. Where thon art gone,
Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown.
May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore,
The parting sound shall pass my lips no mpre!
Thy maidens grieved themselves at my concern,
Oft gave me promise of a quick return;
What ardently I wished, I long believed,
And, disappointed still, was still deceived ; ;
By disappointment every day beguiled,
Dupe of to-morrow even froin a child.
Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went,
Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent,
I learned at last submission to my lot,
But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.
Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more,
Children not thine have trod my nursery floor;
And where the gardener Robin, day by day,
Drew me to school along the public way,
Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapt
In scarlet mantle warm, and velvet capt,
Tis now become a history little known,
That once we called the pastoral house our own.
Short-lived possession ! but the record fair,
That memory keeps of all thy kindness there,
Still outlives many a storm, that has effaced
A thousand other themes less deeply traced.
Thy nightly visits to my chamber made,
That thou mightst know me safe and warmly laid;
Thy morning bounties ere I left my home,
The biscuit or confectionary plum;
The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestowed
By thine own hand, till fresh they shone and glowed:
All this, and more endearing still than all,
Thy constant flow of love, that knew no fall,
Ne'er roughened by those cataracts and breaks,
That humour interposed too often makes ;
All this, still legible in memory's page,
And still to be go to my latest age,
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay
Such honours to thee as my numbers may ;
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere,
Not scorned in heaven, though little noticed here.
Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours, When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flowers, The violet, the pink, and jessamine, I pricked them into paper with a pinAnd thou wast happier than myself the while, Would softly speak, and stroke my head and smile Could those few pleasant hours again appear, Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here? I would not trust my heart-the dear delight Seems so to be desired, perhaps I might. But no-what here we call our life is such, So little to be loved, and thou so much, That I should ill requite thee to constrain Thy unbound spirit into bonds again.
Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coastThe storms all weathered and the ocean crossed Shoots into port at some well-havened isle, Where spices breathe and brighter seasons smile, There sits quiescent on the floods, that shew Her beauteous form reflected clear below, While airs impregnated with incense play Around her, fanning light her streamers gay ; .So thou, with sails how swift! hast reached the shore Where tempests never beat nor billows roar;'* And thy loved consort on the dangerous tide Of life, has long since anchored at thy side. But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest, Always from port withheld, always distressed
Me howling blasts drive devious, tempest-tossed,
Sails ript, seams opening wide, and compass lost;
And day by day some current's thwarting force
Sets me more distant from a prosperous course.
But oh the thought, that thou art safe, and he!
That thought is joy, arrive what may to me
My boast is not that I deduce my birth
From loins enthroned, and rulers of the earth;
But higher far my proud pretentions rise-
The son of parents passed into the skies.
And now, farewell-Time unrevoked has run
His wonted course, yet what wished is done.
By contemplation's help, not sought in vain,
I seem to have lived my childhood o'er again :
To have renewed the joys that once were mine,
Without the sin of violating thine;
And, while the wings of fancy still are free,
And I can view this mimic show of thee,
Time has but half succeeded in his theft-
Thyself removed, thy power to sooth me left.
Voltaire and the Lace-worker.-- From Truth.'
Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door,
Pillow and bobbins all her little store;
Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay,
Shuffling her threads about the livelong day, .
Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night
Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light;
She, for her humble sphere by nature fit,
Has little understanding, and no wit;
Receives no praise; but though her lot be such-
Toilsome and indigent-she renders much;
Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew;
And in that charter reads, with sparkling eyes,
Her title to a treasure in the sktes.
O happy peasant! O unhappy bard !
His the mere tinsel, hers the rich reward;
He praised, perhaps, for ages yet to come.
She never heard of half a mile from home;
He lost in errors his vain heart prefers,
She safe in the simplicity of hers.
To Mary (Mrs. Unwin). ---Autumn, 1793. The twentieth year is well-nigh past For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil Since first our sky was overcast;
The same kind office for me still, Ah, would that this might be the last!! Thy sight now seconds not thy will, My Mary!
My Mary! Thy spirits have a fainter flow,
But well thou play'dst the housewife's I see thee daily weaker grow ;.
part, 'Twas my distress that brought thee And all thy threads, with magic art, low,
My Mary! Have wound themselves about this heart,
My Mary! Thy needles, once a shining store, For my sake restless heretofore,
Thy indistinct expressions seem Now rust disused, and shine no more, Like language uttered in a dream;
My Mary! Yet me they charm, whate'er the theme,
My Mary! !
Thy silver locks, once auburn bright, Upheld by two; yet still thou lov'st, Are still more lovely in my sight
My Mary! Than golden beams of orient light,
My Mary! And still to love, though pressed with
In wintry age to feel no chill, [ill, For, could I view nor them nor thee, With me is to be lovely still, What sight worth seeing could I see?
My Mary! The sun would rise in vain for me,
My Mary! But ah ! by constant heed I know.
How oft the sadness that I shew, Partakers of thy sad decline,
Transforms thy smiles to looks of woe, Thy hands their little force resign;
My Mary! Yet gently pressed, press gently mine,
My Mary! And should my future lot be cast
With much resemblance of the past, Such feebleness of limbs thou prov'st, Thy worn-out heart will break at last, That now at every step thou mov'st
Winter Evening in the Country. - From "The Task.'
Hark! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright;
He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
With spattered boots, strapped waist, and frozen locks;
News from all nations lumbering at his back.
True to his charge, the close-packed load behind,
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern
Is to conduct it to the destined inn,
And, having dropped the expected bag, pass on.
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch !
Cold and yet cheerful: messenger of grief
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some;
To him indifferent whether grief or joy.
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks,
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
With tears, that trickled down the writer's cheeks
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
Or charged with amorous sighs of absent swains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But oh the important budget! ushered in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings? have our troops awaked ?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugged,
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave?
Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
And jewelled turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh-I long to know them all;
I burn to set the imprisoned wranglers free,
And give them voice and utterance once again.
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Not such his evening who, with shining face
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and squeezed
And bored with elbow-points through both his sides,
Out-scolds the ranting actor on the stage:
Nor his who patient stands till his feet throb,
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Of patriots bursting with heroic rage,
Or placemen all tranquility and smiles.
This folio of four pages, happy work!
Which not even critics criticise; that holds
Inquisitive attention, while I read,
Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair,
Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break;
What is it but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns ?
Here runs the mountainous and craggy ridge
That tempts ambition. On the suminit see
The seals of office glitter in his eyes;
He climbs, he pants, he grasps them! At his heels,
Close at his heels, a demagogue ascends,
And with a dexterous jerk soon twists him down,
And wins them but to lose them in his turn.
Here rills of oily eloquence, in soft
Meanders, lubricate the course they take;
The modest speaker is ashamed and grieved
To engross a moment's notice, and yet begs,
Begs a propitious ear for his poor thoughts,
However trivial all that he conceives.
Sweet bashfulness! it claims at least this praise,
The dearth of information and good sense
That it foretells us, always comes to pass.
Cataracts of declamation thunder here;
There forests of no meaning spread the page,
In which all comprehension wanders lost;
Whilst fields of pleasantry amuse us there,
With merry descants on a nation's woes.
The rest appears a wilderness of strange
But gay confusion ; roses for the cheeks,
And lilies for the brows of faded age,
Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald,
Heaven, earth, and ocean plundered of their sweets,
Nectareous essences, Olympian dews,
Sermons, and city feasts, and favourite airs,
Æthereal journeys, submarine exploits,
And Katterfelto, * with his hair on end
At his own wonders, wondering for his bread.
'Tis pleasant through the loopholes of retreat
To peep at such a world; to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd ;
To hear the roar she sends through all her gates
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls a soft murmur on the uninjured ear.
Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced
To some secure and more than mortal height,
That liberates and exempts me from them all.
Oh Winter! ruler of the inverted year,
Thy scattered hair with sleet like ashes filled,
Thy breath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fringed with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age; thy forehead wrapt in clouds,
* A noted conjuror of the day.