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He raised his head and glanced from the fluttering signal to his idle bat, that lay with slate, and book, and other boyish property, upon the table in the room. And then he laid him softly down once more; and again clasped his little arms around the old man's neck. The two old friends and companions for such they were, though they were man and child-held each other in a long embrace, and then the little scholar turned his face to the wall and fell asleep.
The poor schoolmaster sat in the same place, holding the small cold hand in his, and chafing it. It was but the hand of a dead child. He felt that; and yet he chafed it still, and could not lay it down.
ADVICE TO A RECKLESS YOUTH. What would I have you do? I'll tell you, kinsman; Learn to be wise, and practise how to thrive; That would I have you do: and not to spend Your coin on every bauble that you fancy, Or every foolish brain that humors you. I would not have you to invade each place, Nor thrust yourself on all societies, Till men's affections, or your own desert, Should worthily invite you to your rank. He that is so respectless in his courses, Oft sells his reputation at cheap market. Nor would I you should melt away yourself In flashing bravery ; lest, while you affect To make a blaze of gentry to the world, A little puff of scorn extinguish it; And you be left like an unsavory snuff, Whose property is only to offend. I'd ha' you sober, and contain yourself; Not that your sail be bigger than your boat, But moderate your expenses now (at first), As you may keep the same proportion still; Nor stand so much on your gentility, Which is an airy, and mere borrow'd thing From dead men's dust and bones; and none of yours; Except you make or hold it.
AN ENGLISH PEASANT.
To pomp and pageantry in nought allied,
A noble peasant, Isaac Ashford, died.
Noble he was, contemning all things mean,
His truth unquestion’d, and his soul serene :
Of no man's presence Isaac felt afraid,
At no man's question Isaac look'd dismay'd.
Shame knew him not, he dreaded no disgrace;
Truth, simple truth, was written in his face;
Yet while the serious thought his soul approved,
Cheerful he seem’d, and gentleness he loved :
To bliss domestic he his heart resigu’d,
And with the firmest had the fondest mind.
I mark'd his action, when his infant died,
And his old neighbor for offence was tried :
The still tears, trickling down that furrow'd cheek,
Spoke pity, plainer than the tongue can speak.
If pride were lis, 'twas not their vulgar pride
Who, in their base contempt, the great deride :
Nor pride in learning-though my clerk agreed,
If fate should call him, Ashford might succeed ;
Nor pride in rustic skill, although he knew
None his superior, and his equals few :-
But if that spirit in his soul had place,
It was the jealous pride that shuns disgrace;
A pride in honest fame, by virtue gain’d;
In sturdy boys to virtuous labors traind;
Pride in the power that guards his country's coast,
And all that Englishmen enjoy and boast;
Pride in a life that slander's tongue defied;
In fact, a noble passion, misnamed pride.
I feel his absence in the hours of prayer,
And view his seat, and sigh for Isaac there;
I see no more those white locks, thinly spread
Round the bald polish of that honor'd head;
No more that awful glance on playful wight,
Compellid to kneel and tremble at the sight,
To fold his fingers, all in dread the while,
Till Mister Ashford soften'd to a smile;
No more that meek and suppliant look in prayer,
Nor the pure faith (to give it force) are there :
But he is bless'd, and I lament no more,
A wise good man, contented to be poor.
The way was long, the wind was cold,
The minstrel was infirm and old ;
His wither'd cheek, and tresses grey,
Seem'd to have known a better day;
The larp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.
The last of all the bards was he,
Who sung of border chivalry :
For, welladay! their date was fled,
His tuneful brethren all were dead;
And he, neglected and oppress’d,
Wished to be with them, and at rest.
No more on prancing palfry borne,
He caroll'd light as lark at morn;
No longer courted and caress'd,
High placed in hall, a welcome guest,
He pour'd to lord and lady gay,
The unpremeditated lay.
Old times were changed, old manners gone,
A stranger fillid the Stuart's throne;
The bigots of the iron time
Had call'd his harmless art a crime.
A wandering harper, scorn’d and poor,
He begg'd his bread from door to door ;
And tuned to please a peasant's ear
The larp a king had loved to hear.
He pass'd where Newark's stately tower
Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower.
The minstrel gazed with wistful eye-
No liumbler resting-place was nigh.
With hesitating step, at last
The embattled portal arch he pass’d,
Whose ponderous gate and massy bar
Had oft rollid back the tide of war,--
But never closed the iron door
Against the desolate and poor.
The duchess mark'd his weary pace,
His timid mien and reverend face,
And bade her page the menials tell
That they should tend the old man well :
For she had known adversity,
Though born in such a high degree :
In pride of power, in beauty's bloom,
Had wept o'er Monmouth's bloody tomb !
When kindness had his wants supplied,
And the old man was gratified,
Began to rise his minstrel pride ;
And he began to talk anon
Of good Earl Francis, dead and gone;
And of Earl Walter—rest him, God!
A braver ne'er to battle rode;
And how full many a tale he knew
Of the old warriors of Buccleuch :
And would the noble duchess deign
To listen to an old man's strain ?
Though stiff his hand, his voice grown weak,
He thought e'en yet, tho' sooth to speak,
That, if she loved the harp to hear,
He could make music to her ear.
The humble boon was soon obtain'd:
The aged minstrel audience gain’d.
And when he reach'd the room of state,
Where she with all her ladies sate,
Perchance he wish'd his boon denied ;
For when to tune his harp he tried,
His trembling hand had lost the ease
Which marks security to please :
And scenes long past, of joy and pain,
Came wildering o'er his aged brain-
He tried to tune his larp in vain!
The pitying duchess praised its chime,
And gave him heart, and gave him time,
Till every string's according glee
Was blended into harmony.
And then, he said, he would full fain
He could recall an ancient strain
He never thought to sing again.
It was not framed for village churls,
But for high dames and mighty earls ;
He had play'd it to King Charles the good,
When he kept court in Holyrood;
And much he wish’d, yet fear'd, to try
The long-forgotten melody.
Amid the strings his fingers stray'd,
And an uncertain warbling made,
And oft he shook his hoary head.
But when he caught the measure wild,
The old man raised his face, and smiled;