Page images


The tear forgot as soon as shed,

The sunshine of the breast: Their's buxom health, of rosy hue, Wild wit, invention ever new,

And lively cheer of vigour born; The thoughtless day, the easy night, The spirits pure, the slumbers light,

That iy the approach of morn.



Alas! regardless of their doom,

The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,

Nor care beyond to-day:
Yet see how all around them wait
The Ministers of human fate,

And black Misfortune's baleful train :
Ah, show them where in ambush stand,
To seize their prey, the murderous band !

Ah, tell them they are men!



These shall the fury Passions tear,

The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,

And Shame that skulks behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy, with rankling tooth,

That inly gnaws the secret heart;
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visaged comfortless Despair,

And Sorrow's piercing dart.


Ambition this shall tempt to rise,

Then whirl the wretch from high,


To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,

And grinning Infamy.
The stings of falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness' alter'd eye,

That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood defiled,
And moody Madness laughing wild

Amid severest woe.



Lo! in the Vale of Years beneath

A grisly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,

More hideous than their queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every labouring sinew strains,

Those in the deeper vitals rage :
Lo! Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,

And slow-consuming Age.


To each his sufferings: all are men,

Condemn'd alike to groan; The tender for another's pain,

The unfeeling for his own.
Yet, ah! why should they know their fate? 95
Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more ;—where ignorance is bliss,
'T is folly to be wise.

100 GRAY.



THE tree of deepest root is found
Least willing still to quit the ground
'T was therefore said by ancient sages,

That love of life increased with years
So much, that in our latter stages,
When pain grows sharp, and sickness rages,
The greatest love of life

This great affection to believe,
Which all confess, but few perceive,
If old assertions can 't prevail,
Be pleased to hear a modern tale.


When sports went round and all were gay,
On neighbour Dobson's wedding-day,
Death call'd aside the jocund groom
With him into another room,

15 And looking grave, “You must,” says he, “Quit your sweet bride, and come with me." “ With you ? and quit my Susan's side ? With you ?” the hapless husband cried; “Young as I am ? 't is monstrous hard- 20 Besides, in truth, I'm not prepared; My thoughts on other matters go; This is my wedding night, you know."


What more he urged I have not heard ;

His reasons could not well be stronger:
So Death the poor delinquent spared,

And left to live a little longer.
Yet calling up a serious look,
His hour-glass trembled while he spoke,




“Neighbour,” he said, “ farewell ; no more
Shall Death disturb your mirthful hour;
And further, to avoid all blame
Of cruelty upon my name,
To give you time for preparation,
And fit


for your future station,
Three several Warnings shall you have,
Before you 're summond to the grave:
Willing for once I'll quit my prey,

And grant a kind reprieve ;
In hopes you 'll have no more to say,
But when I call again this way,

Well-pleased the world will leave.
To these conditions both consented,
And parted perfectly contented.

What next the hero of our tale befell,

How long he lived, how wise, how well,
How roundly he pursued his course,
And smoked his pipe, and stroked his horse,

The willing Muse shall tell :
He chaffer'd then, he bought, he sold,
Nor once perceived his growing old,

Nor thought of Death as near;
His friends not false, his wife no shrew,
Many his gains, his children few,
He pass’d his hours in peace :
But while he view'd his wealth increase,
While thus along life's dusty road
The beaten track content he trod,
Old Time, whose haste no mortal spares,
Uncall’d, unheeded, unawares,

Brought on his eightieth year.





And now, one night in musing mood,
As all alone he sat,
The unwelcome messenger of Fate

Once more before him stood.


66 To

Half-kill'd with anger and surprise,
“So soon return'd?" old Dobson cries;
“So soon, d'ye call it ?” Death replies;
“Surely, my friend, you're but in jest:
Since I was here before,

70 'T is six-and-thirty years at least,

And you are now fourscore.” “So much the worse,” the clown rejoin'd;

spare the aged would be kind : However, see your search be legal;

75 And your authority, is 't regal ? Else you come on a fool's errand, With but a Secretary's warrant. Besides you promised me three warnings, Which I have look'd for nights and mornings: 80 But for that loss of time and ease, I can recover damages.”

“I know,” cries Death, “that, at the best, I seldom am a welcome guest : But be not captious, friend, at least :

85 I little thought you 'd still be able To stump about your farm and stable; Your years have run to a great length : I wish you joy, though, of

your strength.” “Hold,” says the farmer, “not so fast; 90 I have been lame these four years past.”

“And no great wonder,” Death replies;

« PreviousContinue »