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Unmindful though a weeping wife
And helpless offspring mourn.
If I'm designed yon lordling's slave
By Nature's law designed-
Why was an independent wish
E'er planted in my mind ?
If not, why am I subject to
His cruelty or scorn?
Or why has man the will and power
To make his fellow mourn ?
Yet let not this too much, my son,
Disturb thy youthful breast;
This partial view of human-kind
Is surely not the best!
The poor, oppressèd, honest man,
Had never, sure, been born,
Had there not been some recompense
To comfort those that mourn.
Oh, Death! the poor man's dearest friend,
The kindest and the best!
Welcome the hour my aged limbs
Are laid with thee at rest!
The great, the wealthy, fear thy blow,
From pomp and pleasure torn!
But, oh! a bless'd relief to those
That, weary-laden, mourn !”
“BRING forth the horse !"—the horse was brought:
In truth he was a noble steed,
A tartar of the Ukraine breed,
Who looked as though the speed of thought
Were in his limbs ; but he was wild,
Wild as the wild deer, and untaught,
With spur and bridle undefiled'Twas but a day he had been caught :
And snorting with erected mane,
And struggling fiercely, but in vain,
In the full foam of wrath and dread,
To me the desert-born was led.
They bound me on, that menial throng,
Upon his back with many a thong;
They loosed him with a sudden lash-
Away! away! and on we dash!
Torrents less rapid and less rash.
Away, away, my steed and I,
Upon the pinions of the wind,
All human dwellings left behind :
We sped like meteors through the sky,
When with its crackling sound the night
Is checkered with the northern light.
Town-village-none were on our track,
But a wild plain of far extent,
And bounded by a forest black.
The sky was dull, and dim, and gray,
And a low breeze crept moaning by :
I could have answered with a sigh; But fast we fled, away, away, And I could neither sigh nor pray; And my cold sweat-drops fell, like rain, Upon the courser's bristling mane.
We neared the wild-wood-'twas so wide,
I saw no bounds on either side ;-
The boughs gave way, and did not tear
My limbs, and I found strength to bear
My wounds, already scarred with cold-
My bonds forbade to loose my hold.
We rustled through the leaves like wind-
Left shrubs and trees and wolves behind !
By night I heard them on my track:
Their troop came hard upon our back,
With their long gallop, which can tire
The hound's deep hate, and hunter's fire:
Where'er we flew they followed on,
Nor left us with the morning sun.
Oh, how I wished for spear or sword,
At least to die amidst the horde,
And perish, if it must be so,
At bay, destroying many a foe! :
My heart turned sick, my brain grew sore,
And throbbed a while, then beat no more:
The skies spun like a mighty wheel-
I saw the trees like drunkards reel;
And a slight flash sprung o'er my eyes,
Which saw no further : he who dies
Can die no more than then I died,
O’ertortured by that ghastly ride.
A trampling troop-I see them come!
In one vast squadron they advance!
The sight renerved my courser's feet-
A moment staggering, feebly fleet,
A moment with a faint low neigh,
He answered, and then fell!
With gasps and glazing eyes he lay,
And reeking limbs immovable :
His first and last career is done!
On came the troop !—they saw him stoop,
They saw me strangely bound along
His back with many a bloody thong;
They snort—they foam-neigh-swerve aside.
And backward to the forest fly,
By instinct, from a human eye.
They left me there to my despair,
Linked to the dead and stiffening wretch,
Whose lifeless limbs beneath me stretch, -
Relieved from that unwonted weight,
From which I could not extricate
Nor him nor me; and there we lay,
The dying on the dead.
The glories of our birth and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate-
Death lays his icy hand on kings.
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
All heads must come
To the cold tomb:
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet, and blossom in the dust.
HODGE held a farm, and smiled content
While one year paid another's rent;
But if he ran the least behind,
Vexation stung his anxious mind;
For not an hour would landlord stay,
But seized the very quarter-day.
How cheap soe'er or scant the grain,
Though urged with truth, was urged in vain.
The same to him, if false or true;
For rent must come when rent was due.
Yet that same landlord's cows and steeds
Broke Hodge's fence, and cropped his meads.
In hunting, that same landlord's hounds-
See! how they spread his new-sown grounds!
Dog, horse, and man alike o'erjoyed,
While half the rising crop's destroyed;
Yet tamely was the loss sustained.
'Tis said the sufferer once complained :
The Squire laughed loudly while he spoke,
And paid the bumpkin—with a joke.
But luckless still poor Hodge's fate:
His worship's bull had forced a gate,
And gored his cow, the last and best;
By sickness he had lost the rest.
Hodge felt at heart resentment strong-
The heart will feel that suffers long.
A thought that instant took his head,
And thus within himself he said :
“If Hodge, for once, don't sting the Squire,
May people post him for a liar!”
He said-across his shoulder throws
His fork, and to his landlord goes.
“I come, an't please you, to unfold What, soon or late, you must be told. My bull-a creature tame till nowMy bull has gored your worship's cow. 'Tis known what shifts I make to live: Perhaps your honour may forgive.”— “Forgive!” the Squire replied, and swore; “Pray cant to me-forgive! no more; The law my damage shall decide, And know, that I'll be satisfied.”— “Think, sir, I'm poor-poor as a rat.”— “Think I'm a justice, think of that!” Hodge bowed again, and scratched his head; And, recollecting, archly said, “Sir, I'm so struck when here before ye, I fear I've blundered in the story. 'Fore George ! but I'll not blunder now : Yours was the bull, sir; mine, the cow!"
His worship found his rage subside,
And with calm accent thus replied:
“I'll think upon your case to-night;
But I perceive 'tis altered quite !"
Hodge shrugged, and made another bow:
“An' please ye, where's the justice now?”