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So seem'd the Sire; when far upon the road, 75
While thus they pass, the sun his glory shrouds,
As near the miser's heavy doors they drew, Fierce rising gusts with sudden fury blew ; The nimble lightning mix'd with showers began, And o'er their heads loud-rolling thunder ran. Here long they knock, but knock or call in vain, 95 Driven by the wind and battered by the rain. At length some pity warm’d the master's breast, ('T was then his threshold first received a guest,) Slow creaking turns the door with jealous care, And half he welcomes in the shivering pair : 100 One frugal faggot lights the naked walls, And nature's fervour through their limbs recalls : Bread of the coarsest sort, with eager wine, (Each hardly granted) served them both to dine ; And when the tempest first appear'd to cease,
105 A ready warning bade them part in peace.
With still remark the pondering hermit view'd, In one so rich, a life so poor and rude; “And why should such,” within himself he cried, “ Lock the lost wealth a thousand want beside ?" 110 But what new marks of wonder soon took place In every settling feature of his face, When from his vest the young companion bore That cup, the generous landlord own'd before, And paid profusely with the precious bowl
115 The stinted kindness of this churlish soul !
But now the clouds in airy tumults fly; The sun emerging opes an azure sky; A fresher green the smelling leaves display, And, glittering as they tremble, cheer the day: 120 The weather courts them from the poor retreat, And the glad master bolts the wary gate.
While hence they walk, the pilgrim's bosom wrought With all the travail of uncertain thought; His partner's acts without their cause appear,
125 ’T was there a vice, and seem'd à madness here: Detesting that, and pitying this, he goes, Lost and confounded with the various shows.
Now night's dim shades again involve the sky, Again the wanderers want a place to lie,
130 Again they search and find a lodging nigh: The soil improved around, the mansion neat, And neither poorly low nor idly great: It seem'd to speak its master's turn of mind, Content, and not for praise, but virtue kind. 135
Hither the walkers turn with weary feet, Then bless the mansion, and the master greet:
Their greeting fair, bestow'd with modest guise,
household round his hall repair, Warn’d by a bell, and close the hours with prayer.
At length the world, renew'd by calm repose, Was strong for toil, the dappled morn arose. Before the pilgrims part, the younger crept
150 Near the closed cradle, where an infant slept, And writhed his neck : the landlord's little pride, O strange return! grew black, and gasp?d, and died. Horror of horrors ! what! his only son ! How look'd the hermit when the fact was done ? 155 Not hell, though hell's black jaws in sunder part, And breathe blue fire, could more assault his heart.
Confused, and struck with silence at the deed, He flies, but trembling, fails to fly with speed. His steps the youth pursues; the country lay 160 Perplex'd with roads, a servant show'd the way: A river cross'd the path; the passage Was nice to find; the servant trod before : Long arms of oaks an open bridge supplied, And deep the waves beneath the bending glide. 165 The youth, who seem'd to watch a time to sin, Approach'd the careless guide and thrust him in: Plunging he falls, and rising lifts his head, Then flashing turns, and sinks among the dead.
Wild sparkling rage inflames the father's eyes,
170 He bursts the bands of fear, and madly cries, “ Detested wretch!”-But scarce his speech began, When the strange partner seem'd no longer man: His youthful face grew more serenely sweet; His robe turn'd white, and flow'd upon his feet; 175 Fair rounds of radiant points invest his hair; Celestial odours breathe through purpled air ; And wings, whose colours glitter'd on the day, Wide at his back their gradual plumes display. The form ethereal bursts upon his sight,
180 And moves in all the majesty of light.
Though loud at first the pilgrim's passion grew,
185 But silence here the beauteous angel broke, The voice of music ravish'd as he spoke.
“Thy prayer, thy praise, thy life to vice unknown, In sweet memorial rise before the throne : These charms, success in our bright region find, 190 And force an angel down, to calm thy mind; For this, commission'd, I forsook the sky ;Nay, cease to kneel—thy fellow-servant I.
“Then know the truth of government divine, And let these scruples be no longer thine. 195
“The Maker justly claims that world he made; In this the right of Providence is laid ; Its sacred majesty through all depends On using second means to work his ends. 'T is thus, withdrawn in state from human eye, 200 The Power exerts his attributes on high,
Your actions uses, nor controls your will,
“What strange events can strike with more surprise,
“The great, vain man, who fared on costly food, Whose life was too luxurious to be good; Who made his ivory stands with goblets shine, 210 And forced his guests to morning draughts of wine, Has, with the cup, the graceless custom lost, And still he welcomes, but with less of cost.
“The mean, suspicious wretch, whose bolted door, Ne'er moved in pity to the wandering poor;
215 With him I left the cup, to teach his mind That Heaven can bless, if mortals will be kind. Conscious of wanting worth, he views the bowl, And feels compassion touch his grateful soul. Thus artists melt the sullen ore of lead,
220 With heaping coals of fire upon its head; In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow, And loose from dross, the silver runs below.
“ Long had our pious friend in virtue trod, But now the child half-wean'd his heart from God; Child of his age, for him he lived in pain, 226 And measured back his steps to earth again. To what excesses had his dotage run! But God, to save the father, took the son. To all, but thee, in fits he seem'd to go,
230 And ’t was my ministry to deal the blow. The
poor fond parent, humbled in the dust, Now owns, in tears, the punishment was just.