« PreviousContinue »
The tree of deepest root is found
Least willing still to quit the ground;
'Twas therefore said, by ancient sages,
That love of life increas'd with
So much, that, in our latter stages,
When pains grow sharp, and sickness rages,
The greatest love of life appears.
This great affection to believe,
Which all confess, but few perceive,
If old assertions can't prevail,
Be pleas’d 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;
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, 'tis monstrous hard !
“Besides, in truth, I'm not prepar’d:
“My thoughts on other matters go;
“This is my wedding-day, you know.”
What more he urg'd, I have not heard;
His reasons could not well be stronger; So Death the poor delinquent spar’d,
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 farther, to avoid all blame
“Of cruelty upon my name,
“To give you time for preparation,
“And fit you for your future station,
“ Three several warnings you shall 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 pleas'd, the world will leave." To these conditions both consented, And parted, perfectly contented.
What next the hero of our tale befel,
How long he liv’d, how wisely,—and how we
It pleas'a him, in his prosperous course,
To smoke his pipe, and pat his horse,-
The willing muse shall tell :-
He chaffer'd then, he bought, he sold,
Nor once perceiv'd 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 sate,
Th’unwelcome messenger of fate Once more before him stood.
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
“'Tis six-and-thirty years at least,
you are now fourscore.” “So much the worse !” the clown rejoin’d: “To spare the aged would be kind : “Besides, you promis’d me Three Warnings, “Which I have look’d for nights and mornings.”
“I know," cries Death, “that, at the best, “ I seldom am a welcome guest; “But don't be captious, friend, at least:
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! si I have been lame these four years past."
“And no great wonder,” Death replies : “However, you still keep your eyes; “ And sure, to see one's loves and friends, “For legs and arms would make amends."
· Perhaps,” says Dobson," so it might, “But latterly I've lost my sight.”
“This is a shocking story, faith; “ Yet there's some comfort still," says Death, “ Each strives your sadness to amuse; “I'll warrant you hear all the news.”
“There's none,” cries he; “and, if there were, “ I'm grown so deaf, I could not hear.” “Nay, then,” the spectre stern rejoin'd,
“ These are unreasonable yearnings; “If you are Lame, and Deaf, and Blind,
“You've had your three sufficient warnings: “So come along; no more we'll part,” He said, and touch'd him with his dart: And now old Dobson, turning pale, Yields to his fate-so ends my tale. Mrs. Thrale.
WHERE England, stretch'd toward the setting sun
Narrow and long, o'erlooks the western wave,
Dwelt young Misagathus; a scorner he
Of God and goodness, atheist in ostent,
Vicious in act, in temper savage-fierce.
He journied; and his chance was, as he went,
To join a traveller, of far different note,
Evander, fam’d for piety, for years
Deserving honour, but for wisdom more.
Fame had not left the venerable man
A stranger to the manners of the youth,
Whose face too was familiar to his view.
Their way was on the margin of the land,
O'er the green summit of the rocks, whose base
Beats back the roaring surge, scarce heard so high.
The charity that warm’d his heart was mov’d
At sight of the man-monster. With a smile
Gentle, and affable, and full of grace,
As fearful of offending whom he wish'd
Much to persuade, he plied his ear with truths
Not harshly thunder'd forth, or rudely press'd,
But, like his purpose, gracious, kind, and sweet.
“And dost thou dream,” th' impenetrable man
Exclaim'd, “that me the lullabies of age,
And fantasies of dotards such as thou,
Can cheat, or move a moment's fear in me?
Mark now the proof I give thee that the brave
Need no such aids as superstition lends,
To steel their hearts against the dread of death.”
He spoke, and to the precipice at hand
Push'd with a madman's fury. Fancy shrinks
And the blood thrills and curdles, at the thought
Of such a gulf as he design'd his
But, though the felon on his back could dare
The dreadful leap, more rational, his steed
Declin’d the death, and wheeling swiftly round,
Or ere his hoof had press'd the crumbling verge,
Baffled his rider, sav'd against his will.
The frenzy of the brain may be redress’d
By medicine well applied, but without grace
The heart's insanity admits no cure.
Enrag'd the more, by what might have reform’d
His horrible intent, again he sought
Destruction, with a zeal to be destroy’d,
With sounding whip, and rowels dy'd in blood.
But still in vain. The Providence, that meant
A longer date to the far nobler beast,
Spar'd yet again th’ ignoble for his sake.
And now, his prowess prov'd, and his sincere
Incurable obduracy evinc'd,
[earn'd His rage grew cool; and pleas'd perhaps t have So cheaply the renown of that attempt, With looks of some complacence he resum'd His road, deriding much the blank amaze