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A POETICAL EPISTLE TO LADY AUSTEN.
EAR ANNA,-Between friend and friend,
Serves, in a plain and homely way,
T express th' occurrence of the day;
Our health, the weather, and the news ;
What walks we take, what books we choose ;
And all the floating thoughts we find
Upon the surface of the mind.
But when a poet takes the pen,
Far more alive than other men,
He feels a gentle tingling come
Down to his finger and his thumb,
Derived from Nature's noblest part,
The centre of a glowing heart :
And this is what the world, who knows
No flights above the pitch of prose,
His more sublime vagaries slighting,
Denominates an itch for writing.
No wonder I, who scribble rhyme
To catch the triflers of the time,
And tell them truths divine and clear,
Which, couch'd in prose, they will not hear-
Who labour hard t'allure and draw
The loiterers I never saw,
Should feel that itching, and that tingling,
With all my purpose intermingling,
To your intrinsic merit true,
When call'd t address myself to you.
Mysterious are His ways, whose power,
Brings forth that unexpected hour,
When minds, that never met before,
Shall meet, unite, and part no more :
It is th' allotment of the skies,
The hand of the Supremely Wise,
That guides and governs our affections,
And plans and orders our connexions :
Directs us in our distant road,
And marks the bounds of our abode.
Thus we were settled when you found us,
Peasants and children all around us,
Not dreaming of so near a friend,
Deep in the abyss of Silver End.
Thus Martha, ev'n against her will,
Perch'd on the top of yonder hill ;
And you, tho' you must needs prefer
The fairer scenes of sweet Sancerre,
Are come from distant Loire to choose
A cottage on the banks of Ouse.
This page of Providence quite new,
And now just op'ning to our view,
Employs our present thoughts and pains
To guess, and spell, what it contains :
But day by day, and year by year,
Will make the dark enigma clear;
And furnish us, perhaps, at last,
Like other scenes already past,
With proof that we, and our affairs,
Are part of a Jehovah's cares :
For God unfolds, hy slow degrees,
The purport of His deep decrees;
Sheds every hour a clearer light
In aid of our defective sight;
And spreads, at length, before the soul
A beautiful and perfect whole,
Which busy man's inventive brain
Toils to anticipate, in vain.
Say, Anna, had you never known The beauties of a rose full blown, Could you, tho' luminous your eye, By looking on the bud, descry, Or guess, with a prophetic power, The future splendour of the flower ? Just so, th' Omnipotent, who turns The system of a world's concerns, From mere minutiæ can educe Events of most important use, And bid a dawning sky display The blaze of a meridian day. The works of man tend, one and all, As needs they must, from great to small; And vanity absorbs at length The monuments of human strength. But who can tell how vast the plan Which this day's incident began ? Too small, perhaps, the slight occasion For our dim-sighted observation ; It pass'd unnoticed, as the bird That cleaves the yielding air unheard, And yet may prove, when understood, A harbinger of endless good.
Not that I deem, or mean to call Friendship a blessing cheap or small : But merely to remark that ours, Like some of Nature's sweetest flowers, Rose from a seed of tiny size, That seem'd to promise no such prize ; A transient visit intervening, And made almost without a meaning, (Hardly the effect of inclination, Much less of pleasing expectation)
Produced a friendship, then begun,
That has cemented us in one;
And placed it in our power to prove,
By long fidelity and love,
That Solomon has wisely spoken:
"A threefold cord is not soon broken."
LOSE by the threshold of a door nail'd fast
I, passing swift and inattentive by,
At the three kittens cast a careless eye ;
Not much concern'd to know what they did there ;
Not deeming kittens worth a poet's care.
But presently a loud and furious hiss
Caused me to stop, and to exclaim, “What's this?”
When lo ! upon the threshold met my view,
With head erect, and eyes of fiery hue,
A viper, long as Count de Grasse's queue.
Forth from his head his forked tongue he throws,
Darting it full against the kitten's nose ;
Who having never seen, in field or house,
The like, sat still and silent as a mouse :
Only projecting, with attention due,
Her whisker'd face, she ask'd him, “Who are you ?”
On to the hall went I, with pace not slow,
But swift as lightning, for a long Dutch hoe:
With which well arm'd I hasten'd to the spot,
To find the viper, but I found him not.
And turning up the leaves and shrubs around,
Found only that he was not to be found.
But still the kittens, sitting as before,
Sat watching close the bottom of the door.
“I hope,” said I, "the villain I would kill
Has slipp'd between the door and the door-sill ;
And if I make despatch, and follow hard,
No doubt but I shall find him in the yard ;"
For long ere now it should have been rehearsed,
'Twas in the garden that I found him first.
Ev'n there I found him ; there the full-grown cat,
His head, with velvet paw, did gently pat;
As curious as the kittens erst had been
To learn what this phenomenon might mean.
Fill’d with heroic ardour at the sight,
And fearing every moment he would bite,
And rob our household of our only cat,
That was of age to combat with a rat;
With outstretch'd hoe I slew him at the door,
And taught him NEVER TO COME THERE NO MORE.
“Amicitia nisi inter bonos esse non potest."-CICERO,
HAT virtue can we name, or grace,
But men unqualified and bage
Will boast it their possession ?
the noble part
Of liberality of heart,
And dulness of discretion.
But, as the gem of richest cost
Is ever counterfeited most,
So, always, imitation