Page images
PDF
EPUB

Was now to learn that Heav'n, though slow to wrath,
Is never with impunity defied.
His horse, as he had caught his master's mood,
Snorting, and starting into sudden rage,
Unbidden, and not now to be controlid,
Rush'd to the cliff, and having reach'd it, stood.
At once the shock unseated him ; he flew
Sheer o'er the craggy barrier, and, immersed
Deep in the flood, found, when he sought it not,
The death he had deserved, and died alone.
So God wrought double justice ; made the fool
The victim of his own tremendous choice,
And taught a brute the way to safe revenge.

I would not enter on my list of friends (Though graced with polish'd manners and fine

sense, Yet wanting sensibility) the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm. An inadvertent step may crush the snail That crawls at evening in the public path ; But he that has humanity, forewarn’d, Will tread aside, and let the reptile live. The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight, And charged perhaps with venom, that intrudes A visitor unwelcome into scenes Sacred to neatness and repose, th' alcove, The chamber, or refectory, may die. A necessary act incurs no blame. Not so when, held within their proper bounds, And guiltless of offence, they range the air, Or take their pastime in the spacious field. There they are privileged ; and he that hunts Or harms them there is guilty of a wrong, Disturbs th' economy of Nature's realm, Who, when she form’d, design’d them an abode.

.

The sum is this : if man's convenience, health,
Or safety interfere, his rights and claims
Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs.

Sweet is the harp of prophecy ; too sweet
Not to be wrong'd by a mere mortal touch ;
Nor can the wonders it records be sung
To meaner music, and not suffer loss.
But when a poet, or when one like me,
Happy to rove among poetic flow'rs,
Though poor in skill

to rear them, lights at last
On some fair theme, some theme divinely fair,
Such is the impulse and the spur he feels
To give it praise proportion'd to its worth,
That not t attempt it, arduous as he deems
The labour, were å task more arduous still.

Oh scenes surpassing fable, and yet true, Scenes of accomplish'd bliss ! which who can see, Though but in distant prospect, and not feel His soul refresh'd with foretaste of the joy? Rivers of gladness water all the earth, And clothe all climes with beauty ; the reproach Of barrenness is past. The fruitful field Laughs with abundance, and the land, once lean Or fertile only in its own disgrace, Exults to see its thistly curse repeal’d. The various seasons woven into one, And that one season an eternal spring, The garden fears no blight, and needs no fence, For there is none to covet, all are full. The lion and the libbard and the bear Graze with the fearless flocks. All bask at noon Together, or all gambol in the shade Of the same grove, and drink one common stream. Antipathies are none. No foe to man

Lurks in the serpent now.

The mother sees,
And smiles to see, her infant's playful hand
Stretch'd forth to dally with the crested worm,
To stroke his azure neck, or to receive
The lambent homage of his arrowy tongue.
All creatures worship man, and all mankind
One Lord, one Father. Error has no place ;
That creeping pestilence is driven away,
The breath of heav'n has chased it. In the heart
No passion touches a discordant string,
But all is harmony and love, Disease
Is not. The pure and uncontaminate blood
Holds its due course, nor fears the frost of age.
One song employs all nations : and all cry,

Worthy the Lamb, for He was slain for us !”
The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Shout to each other, and the mountain tops
From distant mountains catch the flying joy,
Till nation after nation taught the strain,
Each rolls the rapturous Hosanna round.

THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF JOHN GILPIN ;

SHOWING HOW HE WENT FARTHER THAN HE

INTENDED, AND CAME SAFE HOME AGAIN.

[The history of "Gilpin" is told by Hayley :-"It happened in those years when his accomplished friend, Lady Austen, made a part of his little evening circle, that she observed hini sinking into increasing dejection; it was her custom, on these occasions, to try all the resources of her sprightly powers for his immediate relief. She told him the story of John Gilpin (which had been treasured in her memory from her childhood), to dissipate the gloom of the passing hour. Its effect on the fancy of Cowper had the air of enchantment. He informed her, the next morning, that convulsions of laughter, brought on by his recollection of her story, had kept him awake during thc greater part of the night that he had turned it into a ballad. So arose the pleasant poem of John Gilpin.' Mrs. Unwin sent it to the Public Advertiser; it was recited by Henderson, the comedian and mimic, and became the fashion of the fireside and the Court. The knight of the stone-bottles—as Cowper called him -has no rival except the knight of La Mancha. Mrs. Piozzi found more humour in this little ballad than in all Gulliver's Travels. And what humour it is !-how gay, sunshiny, and refreshing ! and the mirth and the sunshine, too, are thoroughly English. Cowper talked of gracing Gilpin with a Greek and a Latin motto; he might as well have put a Cardinal's hat on Dr. Primrose. One improvement, however, he proposed, but did not perfectly execute. "Here and there,' he told Unwin, 'I can give him a touch that, I think, will mend him, the language, in some places, not being quite so quaint and old-fashioned as it should be.''']

[blocks in formation]

John

Gilpin's spouse said to her dear,
-Though wedded we have been
These twice ten tedious years, yet we

No holiday have seen.

To-morrow is our wedding-day,

And we will then repair
Unto the Bell at Edmonton,

All in a chaise and pair.

My sister and my sister's child,

Myself and children three,
Will fill the chaise, so you must ride

On horseback after we.

He soon replied, I do admire

Of womankind but one,
And you are she, my dearest dear,

Therefore it shall be done.

I am a linen-draper bold,

As all the world doth kuow, And my good friend the Calender

Will lend his horse to go.

Quoth Mrs. Gilpin,-That's well said,

And for that wine is dear,
We will be furnish'd with our own,

Which is both bright and clear.

Jolin Gilpin kiss'd his loving wife ;

O'erjoyed was he to find
That though on pleasure she was bent,
She had

a frugal mind.

The morning came, the chaise was brought,

But yet was not allow'd
To drive up to the door, lest all

Should say that she was proud.

So three doors off the chaise was stay'd,

Where they did all get in, Six precious souls, and all agog

To dash through thick and thin.

Smack went the whip, round went the wheels,

Were never folk so glad,
The stones did rattle underneath

As if Cheapside were mad.

« PreviousContinue »