Printed and sold at the City Printing-Office.
Sold also by all the Booksellers. 18151815.
To James Bedingfield, Esq.
If I had possessed any Friend so estimable as yourself—any, who had conferred obligations of so high a nature, I would have obeyed your injunctions. I neither expect nor wish for this volume more than a local circulation,—my friendly intimacies here are very few. There are other names that might have honoured my page, but I am doubtful how an address of this kind would be received, and I am apprehensive that I should subject my intentions to misconstruction.A2 iv A2v iv tion. I could scarcely make another choice where I might not be suspected of motives I disdain, or, perhaps, justly incur the charge of presumption, in making an offering of undecided worth, that cannot be important, and may be deemed altogether insignificant. Assured of your sentiments on both these subjects, that you cannot mistake the motive, and that you will highly overrate the matter, I offer it to you with an united sentiment of perfect confidence and perfect esteem.
My health altogether failing under the cares that have devolved on me, I believe that your professional advice, together with the consolation your friendship afforded me, have been the means of preserving to my children their only parent—while for v A3r v that parent your care has cherished all her little world of hope—her children. I leave Mary to your kindness—to your skill —her affecting circumstances may require both—said their dying father. Under every consideration, therefore, whom can I with so much propriety address upon this occasion as such a Friend—the Friend also of my Parents—my Brother. Allow me then the expression of acknowledgments it were painful to suppress; and believe me,
Mary Bryan.Bristol, August 1, 1815.
It has been generally said, that those who possess peculiar talents, in whatever class of intellect; whether tending in their effects to promote the advancement of virtue and happiness by the dissemination of knowledge, or simply contributing to amuse the leisure which abstruse pursuits require; possesss also the intuitive consciousness of their powers. Is not this, like most other assertions, liable to objection? Perhaps it has misled many: but the world will discriminate and determine between the impositions of hope and the inspirations of truth. It may be impossible for the mind itself to distinguish these impressions; and when it is allowed, that Genius of the first order viii A4v viii has, in some instances, mistaken and misdirected its powers; and in others, blind to its most glorious and wonderful achievements, bestowed an undue preference on its inferior productions; if these errors of Genius, these unaccountable perversions of judgment and taste are admitted without reproach; it were uncandid and unjust, to allege the imputations of vanity or presumption, against those who seek in the opinion of the public that decision, by which they are resolved to abide.
But, allowing that the egregiously vain and worthless productions of some, justly subject them to ridicule and reproach; others, possessing perhaps no superior qualifications of talent, may be entitled to appeal from such censure, by motives or circumstances that claim esteem, or at least forbearance. The genuine and disinterested advocates of virtue and piety are respectable ix A5r ix even in their weaknesses. The disappointed and unfortunate, enfeebled by affliction, surrounded by perplexities and difficulties, cannot justly incur reproach, if, like the weary and benighted traveller, dismayed in the dark and dreary waste, they mistake the ignis fatuus of delusion for the cheering beam that guides to peace and security. The enterprise of beguiled expectation at length failing them, if in all the helplessness of hopeless grief they sink, is it not enough?
Dreadful and accumulated must be the evils that can crush the independent mind.—Alas! it is a pitiable struggle; few are its resources: opposed by insult, injustice, and treachery; cruelly wounded, yet unyielding, its efforts sometimes cease only in that fate which they accelerate: and the case becomes affectingly heightened when the welfare of those helpless objects of x A5v x tenderest interest depends on the exertions to which they stimulate. Mrs. Charlotte Smith, under the latter circumstance, became a successful candidate for public support; but Mrs. S. required no indulgence: on the contrary, her genius arose another star in the literary hemisphere of her country, contributing to its glory; untarnished by that dark cloud of affliction from whence it burst pure and brilliant, and over which it shed rays of beauty. Admired Woman! blessed Mother! under all thy cares, blessed in that independence which thy talents secured to thy children!
After this, it might appear highly presumptuous to mention the influence of accidental similarity of circumstances towards the present production—yet has it contributed its effect; not, however, inducing the vain hope of obtaining her success or fame. The writer respects genius xi A6r xi too much even to wish that meed which ought to be its sole and sacred reward. Yet little as she offers, she declines the ostentatious bounty of which the weakest or the guilty only can ever stoop to be the objects; therefore, proud as the declaration may be deemed, she is compelled to observe, that where neither the motive nor the performance obtain any other estimation, she would be sorry that the volume should be purchased because I pity her.
She hopes she will not be deemed uncourteous in thus anticipating the possibility of superciliousness under the mask of compassion— a feeling which, of all others, she considers most unworthy the possessor, and the most humiliating towards its object;—a feeling to which, as no consciousness whatever subjects her, no circumstances should induce her to submit.xii A6v xii
To the gentle, the candid, and the amiable, divested of every apprehension of this kind, she offers her little volume.
There are those to whom, if it should appear altogether puerile and worthless, she would turn to six unconscious, yet, perhaps, affecting pleaders; not, however, as soliciting favour, but silence; which would soon consign the present effort to the oblivion it must deserve, and prevent future attempts, without any of that animadversion, which may be necessary to crush the more sanguine and adventurous; but which she is really ill calculated to support.
She now begs to observe, that many of these pieces were preserved by memory from a collection of manuscripts destroyed some years ago. These were mostly the effusions of affection far divided from its object, even long after tenderness had been sanctioned by sacred and legal xiii A7r xiii ties; the natural result of these peculiar circumstances in a retirement where every thing contributed to cherish it. The active duties, the total change in habits that succeeded, had perhaps in themselves been scarcely sufficient to suppress pursuits, which had grown highly pleasing by indulgence; had they not been prohibited by him on whom she depended for all the happiness of her life; a measure dictated by that tender yet steady affection, that propriety and wisdom which then distinguished all his conduct.
This prohibition was certainly painful, because it was total; but the sacrifice was almost complete. Every effort for choice in the amusements of leisure was crushed, lest they should imperceptibly encroach on duties; even the spontaneous offerings of occasionally excited feelings, were coldly received, or rejected as xiv A7v xiv dangerous incendiaries, in a little establishment which required the extremest caution and vigilance, to preserve in that independence for which, he thought no sacrifice, on his part, too great. Respectably filling a station in life, in which if the exertion of talents and virtue is not the most conspicuous, it has been allowed to be the most general; nothing contemptible or insignificant can attach to the concerns of such an individual: and, in the local circulation of this volume, she hopes this little testimony will not be considered obtrusive, though it may be somewhat irregular. If calamities the most distressing and accumulated, overwhelming all opposition, rendering all efforts ineffectual, did at length subdue exertion, and despair sometimes induce indiscretions—most severe were the sufferings that succeeded—dreadful the mental conflicts—sincere the penitence—and almost unparalleledxv A8r xv paralleled the agonizing reflections that anticipated in aggravated horrors the impending consequences—when insensibility to every other object marked the closing scene—when to the already, dull, cold ear, the voice of affection whispered in vain—when the eye bent as on vacancy, and no recognition directed its look— in the piteous, the affecting ruin, the Father, the Husband survived, in one last bitter token— token of sad, but cherished and sacred rememberance— in a few more hours they will want bread!
Feeble is the hand of affection that would now throw a veil over the change—but, not so sacred was the malediction of Clara, as is that against the hand which would remove this veil from the altered character.
Circumstances having altogether changed; ill health having necessarily compelled her to relinquish those domestic occupations, which an indulgent mother has kindly discharged, xvi A8v xvi she has sought, by occasional employment, in remissions from total incapacity, that amusement which in the commencement of this little undertaking bounded her views. As she proceeded, other hopes and wishes, far more interesting, succeeded.
One concluding remark she would offer to the general and candid consideration of her readers. The subjoined are either productions of a very youthful or much enfeebled mind; their deficiencies may therefore, perhaps, reasonably expect some indulgence; but, if they possess nothing to approve—neither cultivation, nor practice, nor returning health and strength, will enable her to produce any thing worthy their future attention. This conviction has determined her to hazard the present disappointment of her hopes, rather than subject herself, at some future period, to the self-reproach of mispent time.
To W.Wordswort――h, Esq.
Thou! who dost well reprove the sordid fear,
That spoils the springs of bliss—wasting life’s powers,
O wilt thou mourn th’ ungenial influence here,
One moment pausing o’er these wither’d flowers?
Like thee thro’ many a darling haunt I stray’d;
And if to thee sublimer views were given,
Dear were the scenes my ling’ring steps delay’d—
As dear the silent grove—the starry Heav’n.
Far in the shelter’d vale, I never knew
To mark great nature in her wonders drest;
Around her chid her tend’rest charms she threw,
And smiling, hid me in her tranquil breast.
No sordid wishes drew me from her bowers—
Not such the passion that these strains reveal;
No sordid cares consume my wasting powers—
My infant spoilers wear the bloom they steal.
—O, happiest of Poets, as of men,
Who dost delight to shew with feelings true,
The maiden, dearest in her native glen,
Spontaneous graces blending with her view—
Hast thou ne’er watch’d her cheek’s decaying bloom?
Hide—hide it ever from thy cheerful ken—
The faded mourner should not ask a tomb,
To chill thy breast—O, happiest of men!
Poet of Nature’s—Reason’s—Beauty’s light—
Who nobly scorn’d the Muse by custom drest:
If too long dazzled, the bewilder’d sight
Mark not her glories in her simpler vest;
The futile glare at length will cease to charm,
At length awakening truth delight to find
A muse with genuine hopes, and passions warm;
Too wise for form—Too pure to be refin’d. Note 1, page 3, line 4. Too pure to be refin’d. See Wordsworth’s Address to the Spade of his Friend. A short time since appeared in a daily Journal a criticism on The Excursion, beginning thus:—Now that Mr. W is no longer the companion of a Leech-gatherer, and the panegyrist of a Spade, directs his talents to their proper objects, &c; Impressed with the highest opinion of the merits of this performance, it surpasses the belief that this Poet can now have excelled some of his former writings. I have not yet read the Poem, but supposing a change in his opinions to have taken place, never can he, with all his present powers, impair the strength or beauty of that everlasting monument of argumentative truth—his Preface to his Lyrical Pieces. Probably this critic had merely heard that the Leechgatherer and the Spade, &c; had been the subjects of this Poet’s muse, and content with estimating great and little by that scale, which wealth and. pride have long preponderated, had never read these pieces; if he had actually perused them, pitiable are the defects of such a perception. There are, that are deaf to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely—but I have heard that these Poems are generally and duly esteemed.—In the regular reviews of some years past, I am wholly unread, simply, because the numerous productions of uncommon interest of this period, pouring their treasures at once upon my amazed and delighted mind, have almost engrossed it.
To ―― ――. 18041804.
What tho’ her oft averted glance
Assumes a cold disdain,
Rejects with scorn thy pleading look
Regardless of thy pain—
Dwells only in thy Emma’s eye
The scorn and cold disdain,
While proud in her subjected heart
Far other feelings reign—
And mock resentment’s fev’rish glow
Suspicion’s chilling fears
And claim for every angry look
A thousand tender tears.
On securing an unsheltered Nest.
Poor Bird!—why dost thou raise that piercing cry?
Why, timid trembler, from thy nestlings fly?
While flitting, anxious, round that spot so dear,
Thy mate laments the cruel havoc near.
Fond fearful pair!—this hand did never harm;
Then cease these strains and hush your wild alarm:
Twas pity led the maid, who broke your rest
To bind the leafy branches round your nest.
Now hid impervious to the spoiler’s view,
O, gentle pair! Your pleasing task renew;
Securely blest your tender offspring rear,
Nor truant boy, nor cruel sportsman fear:
And to her care, if due your grateful strains,
One gentle boon will well reward her pains—
O! should the wand’rer seek again these groves,
Hail, with your sweetest songs, the youth she loves!
To ―― ――.
Now the latest flowrets fade,
Leafless all the silent grove,
While thy Ellen, hapless maid,
Pines in solitary love.
Weary pass the wintry hours,
All uncheer’d unblest by thee,
Wintry gloom and with’ring flowers
Ah they well resemble me!—
—Yet, O leave the flaunting fair,
All their vain allurements flee—
Leave the smile that numbers share
For her who only smiles on thee.
Now faint the smile on her wan cheek,
Yet couldst thou mark its dewy tear,
And this sigh—O this would speak—
Resistless speak—couldst thou but hear!
But soon adown her fading cheek,
Unheeded tears will cease to flow—
Unheeded sighs will cease to speak
Her breaking heart,—its hopeless woe
Forgetful with its love resign—
Cold as that faithless breast of thine!
On seeing a Flower, called Summer’s Farewell, withering at the approach of Winter, 18051805.
Sweet season of beauty, adieu to thy reign!
Ah! see thy last flow’ret now droops on the plain:—
Adieu to the charms of the hill and the dell!
To thy zephyrs, adieu!—to thy streamlets, farewell!—
—Go beautiful Season, I wish not thy stay,
Nor regret ye, all faded, ye flow’rets so gay—
Stern Winter approaching with gladness I see,
For Winter brings pleasures—what pleasures for me!
Then come dreary Season, no longer delay—
Yet I love my sweet vale with its meadows so gay!
But what are the charms of the mead, or the grove,
Compar’d to the smile of the Husband I love!
Haste! haste! dreary Season, I chide thy delay—
O! dearer thy frowns than the soft smiles of May—
Than her breezes more welcome, thy rude storms to me,
Since my heart’s dearest Treasure! they bear me to
To a Miniature.
Dear shade I woo it, tho’ its semblance prove
Faint and imperfect of the grace I love;
No blooming cheek with varying pleasure glows,
No balmy lips a thousand sighs unclose,
No tender eyes each ardent joy suppress
’Till gazing uncontroul’d in fond excess,
My trem’lous lids no more their looks sustain,
And then I hide thy eyes—and look again.—
—And tho’ my heart each absent grace supplies,
And gives the feeble traits, the glowing dies;
—Nor sweeter pleasure knows thy faithful maid
Now thou art distant than to bless thy shade.
Yet haste, my love, bestow thy dearer charms—
Where stays my wand’rer from these faithful arms?
Lines Sent to ――.
A boon, my love!—thy latest thought—
Thus would some tender art
By pensive fond affection taught,
Recal my Henry’s heart.
To night those precious looks of thine
Have glanced on Ladies gay,
And thou, where all so bright did shine,
Forgot who was away.
I will not say how fickle these,
Nor tell my anxious care:
Perhaps if I should aught displease
Thou’lt think them—very fair!
No more—thy thought—thy tenderest thought,
Thy latest wish be mine;
For well thou know’st my every thought,
And every wish is thine.
Good-night!—Good-night!—those dearest eyes
Now close in peaceful rest,
And dream who loves thee, wand’rer, flies
To shelter in thy breast.
To ―― ――.
Nay do not chide the lingering wish
That thus prolongs the fond—Good-night!
Remembrance dwells on parting bliss,
And cheers me till the morning light.
Gives to my dreams thy loved form
Thy dear encircling arm I find,
Supporting thro’ the fearful storm—
The storm I brave—for thou art kind!
But then I sink beneath each blast,
A timid weary wand’rer I,
O’er sorrows vast unshelter’d waste!
My only hope my prayer to die—
When thee I lose—and oh, my love!
I hold thee by so frail a tie,
That oft in day dream hours I prove
The sick heart’s feverish wish—to die.
Then, if, my love I ling’ring press’d,
O do not chide and part in pain,
For I shall know nor peace nor rest
’Till folded to thy heart again.
To ―― ――.
Yes—thou wilt gaze on lovelier eyes,
But will they beam alone on thine?
And if they make as fond replies—
As tender look, and brighter shine,
If dearest Henry! were away,
Would they so mourn that weary day
In tears like mine?
Yes—thou wilt find a fairer breast,
A heart to heave as fond as mine;
With sighs as soft to soothe thy rest,
And love, with all the love of, thine,
But if my Henry left the plain,
Perhaps, that heart would sigh again,
Not break, like mine.—
To ―― ――.
O could my tears restore thy rest
What tears should fall for thee—
Or if my wish could make thee blest
How happy should’st thou be!
Those tears,—that wish—must lay me low
And rend all ties to thee—
Yet loves thy tender Emma, so,
To weep and wish for thee!—
Come, lovely Nymph, of placid mien!
Come with thy softly soothing power—
Thy calmer bliss, thy joy serene,
And bless my solitary bower!
When scorn met all my earliest love,
Relentless urged its bitt’rest pain;
When not the tearful eye could move,
And every fond complaint was vain—
I weeping sought thy balmy aid—
I knew no guile—I knew no fear—
Yet ah! I caught thy falsest shade!
And cherish’d in a heart sincere.—
She came in all thy gentle guise
With thy soft eyes celestial hue,
Thy plaintive tone, thy pitying sighs—
So fond! I thought as constant too.
No more I mourn her faithless wiles—
No more regret her broken vow—
Far lovelier in thy artless smiles,
And dearer by her wrongs, art thou!
Come, then with all thy soothing power,
So early sought—so long delay’d;
Nor heedless pass my lonely bower,
Nor scorn thine own devoted maid.
And if no bloom invite thine eye,
Nor sprightly airs beguile thine ear—
Thine be my bosom’s tend’rest sigh,
And thine the blush to feeling dear!
And if life’s early spring has flown
Check’d were its chill’d and sunless flowers,
And many a sweet awaits unblown,
Thy cheering smiles—thy genial hours.—
And, One!—if at thy holy shrine
The graceful form invoke thee now!
A wreath of fadeless bloom I’ll twine
To deck that fair and faithful brow.
Oft has t[hy] simple humming soothed my ear,
Musing on some rude bench where woodbines wove
Around the cottage window—hours so dear,
That more than skilful airs, thy changeless tones I love.
And there I heard a plaintive strain the while—
Some ancient ballad’s warning history
Of banish’d youth, by cruel stepdame’s wile,
Of fairest lady’s fall, man’s wicked perjury.
I thought, alas! of love and constancy,
While tears and smiles told all my bosom then,
O, falsest *****! I gave the smiles to thee—
The tears to damsels wrong’d by wicked men!
For, ah! what maid that heard thy winning tale,
Could dream that e’er such tears, should thy deceit bewail.
I know not who thou wert, nor whence I know,—
But what thou art, and where thou dwellest now.
A gentle mind, a feeling heart was thine,
That feeling heart destroy’d thy mind below,
Thou lovely wreck; but now where seraphs shine,
As pure—as bright—there, beauteous saint—art thou!
I saw thee on the bed of pain and death!
And O, how ill endured that sight by me;
But had he seen—thy murderer seen thee there—
I wish’d—yet sure that sight I had not borne to see!
Thou rich great man—I know not who art thou,
But what, I know. Tho’ boundless—Mercy’s power—
I would not mark for all thou couldst bestow,
Thy wretched soul’s last look in its departing hour.
The Maniac. Note 2, page 21. The Maniac. In this Sonnet I was aware that I passed the legal bounds—and as Innovators are considered presumptuous in proportion as they are weak, I am very happy to hear that an eminent Poet has anticipated the irregularity. Under the wings of this mighty Eagle I hope a poor little melancholy Monotone will escape the terrible hawk-eyed Critics.—I believe that in no instance I had adopted as unprecedented measure or arrangement of the stanzas of the legitimate sonnet.
My own Maria!—Ah my own—my own!
Withheld my steps in such entreating tone,
I turn’d—so meek a form I could not fear,
I prest th’ extended hand and bath’d it with a tear.—
I stood as I could never leave that place,
Yet would have spoken, would have turn’d away:—
My own Maria!—gazing on my face,
As one long lost to him, did that lorn maniac say.
I could not speak—so lovely was the joy
The maniac shew’d, ’twere cruel to destroy;
And I had seen him look so lost in woe,
That if I were not his—I could not tell him so.
My own Maria!—with such tender grace,
Repeated oft—that now the maniac grew
Dear and more dear; till urged to leave the place,22 B3v 22
I could not speak—I could not look adieu—
Lest I had seen him in his wild despair,
And hasten’d to that prison’d maniac’s cell,
And left the world to dwell for ever there—
Few in that sordid world I lov’d so well:
And often since that hour, thou poor unknown,
In mem’ry’s tendrest thoughts, I have been all thine own!
To My Brother.
O, thou art far away from me—dear boy!
So fond affection loves to call thee still;
Recalling hours that oft my bosom thrill,
When in our native haunts thou wert my joy.
Where now in distant climates dost thou stray?
When in the ardour of thy boyish pride,
Thou wert a faithless truant from my side;
Soon thou return’st to chase my fears away.
How have I mark’d thee oft, with wonder there,
Climb the tall elm, and pray’d and pray’d again
Thou would’st such dang’rous heights forbear,
And gazed, with uprais’d eyes, that sued in vain:
Gain’d the proud height—prompt to descend and smile,
And love the very tear thou chid’st the while.
Then wand’ring far, where clust’ring boughs embow’r,
With graver look and moralizing speech;
From ancient sage some lesson thou wouldst teach,
Of courage needful for that parting hour
When thou must leave me—O, the fearful sigh
Of the sad heart, foreboding evil days
To come! Alas! far from these pleasant ways—
But soon I smil’d again for thou wert nigh.
The book I snatch from thee, in playful joy—
Now whereso’er thou goest, thou vent’rous boy,
Though dangers dire my wand’rers steps attend,
Thy sister’s follow to the wide world’s end;
But, Darling, throw philosophy aside,
And list this piteous tale, of a scorn’d youth who died.
(E’en now I see thy smile)—then for her pride,The haughty Lady, sorrowing too late, Pined to her end—Oh sad, sad fate! The scorn’d and scorner died.
E’en now I see thy smile.
But ah, I knew not thou wert sad the while.
Oh, transient sorrows, light as morning dews
Chas’d with soon rising beams;
Yet oft sick fancy deems
Portents of ill they came.—Since, care’s wan hues
O’ercast thy sister’s cheek; where stands a tear
Unheeded or forgotten now,
Like cold drops on the pallid brow
Of pain or fear.
When, when wilt thou return?
Since thou art far away,
Each desolated day
Has brought me much to mourn:
And Oh, my brother, if thou long shouldst roam,
To her who loves thee best, thou never wilt come home.
With feeble frame, by ling’ring sickness worn,
And painless languor, and that hectic cheek,
Death’s flattering mask, his painted mockery Note 3, page 27, line 3. Death’s flattering mask, his painted mockery. I am not quite assured, but believe this idea is in Dr. Young’s Night Thoughts.
To native air and early friends restor’d—
Kind renovaters; and thou, most kind, most dear,
Maternal Aunt!—sadly I thought of one
Who was, in artless beauty, dear to each
Eye, each heart—alas! how chang’d! heedless now
Of homes dear scenes and smiles of kindred love,
Bestow’d to stranger’s care—a wilder’d one.
—Not yet had health return’d with wonted strength,
Ere, sorrowing, I sought my childhood’s friend,
Where dwell the living dead—dismaying sights!
Friend of my happiest hours! I sought her there.
—’Twas a long lonely way, yet every shrub
Of earliest verdure in full beauty bloom’d,
On ev’ry hedge-row, while the bursting leaf28 B6v 28
Or swelling blossom made a lovely show
Of later promise.—O, ’twere a cheering
Sight; but wintry gloom o’ercast the young morn:
Chilling and heavy sleets bent many a flower
So fair! alas, so fragile fair! to rise
No more. Like Sensibility’s fond child
Press’d with untimely woe—unmeet to bear,
Yet all unwise to shun the ills that spoil
Its tender bloom! and ne’er shall genial suns
For either shine—cold is their early fate—
Cold the untimely tears that chill their gentle
Sweets—and e’er a smile will save them—they’re gone!
――--So mus’d the sadd’ned mind,
Till, Castle Ne Roch, on thy wild scenes amaz’d,
I gazed! With slow and cautious steps the steeds
Pursued a broken path, that cross’d midway,
The steep declivity—a dangerous pass—
Beneath, a fenny marsh extended wide—
Down the deep fall the dizzy sight,—with fear
Oft shunning, yet, again, involuntary
Turning,—view’d the black, vast waste; barren, or,29 B7r 29
If a shrub grew—dark as its parent swamp—
Unsightly all—in vain the weary eye
Sought aught beyond.—Bounded by hazy mists
The murky scene seem’d shut from light or joy.
Above a huge high cliff its rocky sides
Rude, torn, and bare, uprear’d—Here, said my Guide,
The poor crazed inmates of yon mansion stray;
Their keepers watch their moody wanderings;
Yet oft in these wild heights unseen they lurk
Eluding all research.—I trembled at the tale—
Oh, frightful haunts! lest a strange form
With sudden rage and demon strength possest,
Swift from some jutting crag, with fell intent,
And horrid yell might rush, and hurl me down
Th’ immense below! Note 4, page 29, line 15. Th’ immense below.— Since writing the above, a fatal accident occurred on this spot. Two persons passing in a gig were precipitated a fall of more than 300 feet. Urged by these terrors, soon
We gained the sullen dwelling—drear retreat!
The massy doors—the iron-grated lights
Appall’d with very strength—I trembled there,
E’en in the terrible security.
Then, fearful wrecks of storms I ill endured,
Unmeet to greet a sympathizing guest,30 B7v 30
The shriek—the long loud laugh—the desp’rate din
I scarce forbore to join. I clasped my dewy brows
Insensate of the pressure, chilling cold—
I thought or death or madness soon will seize
My trembling frame, and I shall never more
Behold aught fair, or good, or blest, or dear.
Instant I clasped them all; Oh, what a change
To love, and hope, and joy, one tender look—
One precious word of recognition—gave.
Now, all her own sweet self in loveliness,
Restor’d by kindest care and med’cinal aid,
I saw my gentle Friend—mutual surprize
Of unexpected bliss! Dear news I brought—
Tidings of all she lov’d.—Enquiry o’er,
And calmed the sudden joy: ’Tis years, she said,
Dark years since we have met—dark years of grief,
And dark the future too—but these will pass—
These too will pass, and so we’ll meet in heaven.
Nay, here we’ll meet if, kind, my soon return,
Thou’lt wait amongst our native bowers—shelters
From many a storm, when rambling far we saw31 B8r 31
The gath’ring clouds with fear—fond maids, nor shunn’d
The darker storms that early whelm’d us o’er.—
One more request, and we will say Farewel—
Lest night o’ertake thee. Dost thou remember
Six years ago—past a few warmer suns
To give the summer ripeness—one evening
We linger’d in the copse, plucking wild flowers
To weave us wreaths beseeming more, we said,
The brows of simple maids, than garden flow’rs
Flaunting so proud, in artificial hues—
Capricious idlers, so we moralized;
And this—for one afar you cried, bending
A pliant branch, on whose high top you hung
A varied garland—withdrawn the gentle force
Upsprung in air it waved its modest tints
So prettily, we, smiling marked the while—
’Till roused by distant sounds, threat’ning and rude,
We turned and through the mazy thicket,
Ev’ry repelling branch or bent or torn,
Heedless of hurt, a tatter’d creature, wild,32 B8v 32
Haggard, and wan, press’d on to where we stood
Silent and still with fear, nor time for flight;
In wrathful mood —mad Kattern hail’d us loud; Note 5, page 32, line 3. —mad Kattern hail’d us loud. My fair country friends will recollect poor Kate Dwelly, who a few years since, during the summer seasons usually rambled from the village of North Curry round the adjacent country. When enraged by the clamour or pursuit of the peasant boys, her appearance was really formidable, and has often alarmed unprotected ramblers. Her form was very tall, she wore the parish woollen dress, and small mob cap, her hair, prematurely grey, hung wildly over her eyes, and down her bare neck. Within the remembrance of many, Kate had been a comely young woman, but her person then retained not a wreck of that comeliness, nor her mind a trait of that tenderness which had destroyed her reason.
Then you with feigned composure forward stept—
This to Kate—sweet flowers for her—does any
Harm poor Kate—ought ail her.—Relenting, pleas’d,
She took the fragrant gift, mutter’d and pass’d.
Poor Kate!—Rude boys had worried her to rage;
Harmless else, and sometimes happy too, for
Kate had long forgotten him who wronged her;
Blessed forgetfulness! O, falsest man,
Forgetting thee! —Then, in those softest eyes,
Gleamed wand’ring fires—fires not their own—but soon
To tears they changed.—How much, she said, in fond
And idle talk, I wand’ring, lose myself,
Detaining thee! To-morrow at this hour
Cross that low copse, and climb th’ ascent beyond—
So gay with yellow broom and purple heath,
I to yon sullen heights will bend my way,
And if the day is fair I have a glass
Will shew thee there—thy white kerchief waving33 C1r 33
Tho’ indistinct thy form I see, this sign
Will mark it thine—sweet consciousness.—Again
Each day return—the dearest hour I’ll know
’Till that I meet thee there.—Farewell—Farewell!
Each word of thine is treasur’d—O Farewell.
To My Brother.
Once in our custom’d walk a wounded bird,
With feeble effort fluttering awhile,
Fell at my feet; unknowing of its hurt,
Poor thing, ’tis sick, I said, and laid it on
My bosom; it could not rest for pain;
So tenderly I gave it to thy care.—Look—
Ah it bleeds! we cannot save nor ease it,—
See its torn wing—its shatter’d panting breast—
It writhes its little limbs with grievous pain;
And now its dim eyes close—quite close—it dies!
Poor pretty bird!—Could he who did this deed,
Have seen thy ling’ring life in torture thus
Expire, I know he would forbear to kill.—
Nay, nay, dear Mary! thou hast much to learn.
On Seeing the Representation of a Victory.
What spectacle of horror this! Victory!
Are these thy triumphs? Hero! these thy deeds?
Conqueror! Hast thou pierced with thy brave arm
Hearts fearless as thy own?—’twas bravely done!—
Oh but these hearts were dear, as thine, were dear,
As brave, as generous hearts!—mine cannot
Welcome thee, for at the piteous sight, ’tis
Almost as cold as their’s whom thou hast slain—
’Thwas not a throb—a pulse for victory!—
Now—now it bleeds with that trodden beneath
Thy horse’s hoof—I am, methinks, the maid,
The miserable maid, that crush’d heart lov’d;
How can I bless thee—so!—That mangled form—36 C2v 36
I lov’d with sister’s pride, the gallant boy!
Oh that gashed head!—I am the mother whose
Breast did pillow it!—Mighty conqueror!—
I have much kindred here whom I must wail;
I cannot joy in thee, nor in thy work.—
Thou God of Mercy, I will look no more
Lest seeing thee not here, I should forget
A stranger travelling from afar—
The sun had left him early;
Yet o’er a trackless wat’ry waste,
Securely had the traveller past,
While the winter moon shone clearly.
Now deep embank’d a narrow pass
He still pursued unfearing;
He entered then a woody dell,
And scarcely there a moon-beam fell,
The lonely Stranger cheering;
And deeper plung’d—then paus’d the steed
Instinctive in the danger;38 C3v 38
When by its window’s starry light
A lowly cottage with delight,
Discerned the wilder’d Stranger.
One gentle maid had cared for him;
Her breast with pity swelling—
A breast that trembled then for all,
While list’ning to the water’s fall,
Around the lowly dwelling.
Then ev’ry Traveller shared her care
And past the cottage blessing,
For, ever from her window bright,
On the lone Traveller of the night,
A taper shone refreshing.
Led by that taper’s kindly beam,
He past the stream’s commotion;
And then he vow’d that taper’s light,
As woman’s eye was kind and bright—
He vow’d it with emotion.
He hail’d the cottage inmates then,
With courtesy endearing;
For he had said, that woman’s care
Had placed the welcome taper there
Which shone so bright and cheering.
Nor ever knew that gallant heart,
So fond a throb of pleasure;—
Sweet watcher of the night, he said,
I pray you tell me, lovely maid,
How far these waters measure?
But first, O take a wand’rer’s thanks,
From distant shores a ranger;
Who, when he travels long and far,
Will ne’er forget the cottage Star
That blest the lonely Stranger.
Now tell where I must cross or shun,
The distant torrent rushing;
O, Gentlest of the vale, I pray?—
But nothing could the maiden say
With timid wonder blushing.
The cottage matron then arose
And told the Stranger kindly;
What road to take and what to shun,
And then she wished his journey done
With benediction friendly.
The maid who listened, mute the while,
Now doubts and fears alarming,
That tho’ the tale was rather long,
And truly meant it might be wrong,
And fears, reserve disarming,
She rose—the lattice casement op’d,
Her voice was not the stronger,
Because the torrent roar’d aloud,
While o’er his steed the Traveller bow’d,
But her story somewhat longer;
Unwonted pity fill’d her breast,
And pity’s tones are broken;
And a sigh had reach’d the Traveller’s ear
And a sigh or a tone so soft and dear,
Fond had her artless wonder hung,
On the Stranger’s words, approving,
And now, her simple story o’er,
The Stranger listen’d as before—
To her a silence moving.
The wind had quench’d the quiv’ring flame
And hid her fond emotion;
And hid a cheek too snowy fair,
Had not a blush that trembled there,
Secur’d his heart’s devotion.
Still silent stood the simple maid,
Nor felt the night-wind blowing;42 C5v 42
The Stranger too, all else forgot
But the gentle voice, which the steed heard not,
And now impatient growing,
Of such unwonted long delay,
Tho’ much he lov’d that Stranger;
Dashing the stream, with restless prance,
He rous’d the maiden from a trance,
So sweet, to pain and danger.
Goodnight, goodnight, the maiden said,
O! ’tis a way so fearful,
And then she told the way once more,
And the Strnger listen’d as before
And the tone was—very fearful.
What cheek is thine, sweet maid, he cried,
The night will not discover;
That little form, or brown or fair,
Now past his wish to know or care,
Thy own devoted lover.
Nay, start not at so frank a speech,
For long and far we sunder;
O keep that tone, that sigh for me,
And I will yet return to thee
Tho’ long and far I wander.
Now wintry floods had pass’d away,
And soft the streamlets playing;
Along the shelter’d valley low,
Allur’d with gems of radiant snow,
The maidens footsteps straying.
Yet not to die upon her breast,—
As lovers specious, say
They wish—and were supremely blest
In such sweet graves e’er more to rest
And saintly beg and pray,
And ’plain and tell the envied flower,
How, happier far it lies,45 C7r 45
O, wicked wit! to rob the rest,
And steal into the maiden’s breast,—
Then ’tis the maid that dies!—
’Twas not to die upon her breast,
She pluck’d the lovely flower;
She feared the yet uncertain wave
Might rise her fav’rite’s timeless grave
Nor spare its little hour.
When aught upon that breast could die,
O how it mourn’d in sadness;
But warm’d to life, with tender care,
When the sick nestling shelter’d there,
How soft it swell’d with gladness.
O, Lady proud! howe’er so high,
I pity all thy power;
If Lady thou didst never know,
To seek where luckless flowrets grow
And save their little hour.
If, Lady thou didst never know
To warm a dying thing;
And watch its little opening eye,
Gaze on thee then so tenderly,
’Tis not for thee I sing!
Our simple joys, thou canst not feel,
Yet, Lady proud! forbear:
Go search the sweetest Poets lay,
Could crowded courts of Ladies gay,
Match nature’s Lady there. Note 6, page 46, line 10. Match nature’s Lady there. See Lyrical Ballads, p. 136. Three years she grew in sun and shower.
Now why did she at evening hour;
Unvaried bend her way,
Across the heath and thro’ the mead,
That to the high-way road does lead,
And there so long delay?
Where the road rises with the hill
Untired her eye she bent;47 C8r 47
And if of graceful form and mien,
A traveller past, she saw, unseen,
And look’d the way he went.
Perhaps the youth who crossed the vale
Sweet maiden thou wouldst see—
O, Stranger! Thou art far away,
And hast thou thought these many a day,
On her who looks for thee!
And, Stranger, didst thou truly say,Tho’ long and far we sunder; O keep that sigh, that tone for me, And I will yet return to thee, ’Tho’ long and far I wander.
For artless maidens fear no guile;
And thro’ the ling’ring year,
The maiden lov’d to sigh alone,
The maiden’s sighs were all thy own,
And thou wert, very dear!
And wintry floods again they come,
And still thou art not near;
And spring her gemmy eyes unclose,
And summer gayer charms disclose,
Still, absent, thou art dear.
If village maidens soon are won,
Which oft alas! they rue,
Thou, courteous youth, whoe’er thou art,
Didst thou e’er win a village heart,
And hast not found it true?
Now who is he adown the hill,
Who walks beside his steed—
That wearied steed has journey’d far,
’Neath noonday sun and midnight star
And spent he seems with speed.
Now who is he that gallant youth,
Who looks so anxious round;49 D1r 49
Where joy so blended with his fear,
Bespeaks a search of one, long dear—
Long lost, and almost found.
He seems a Wanderer return’d,
Yet doubtful of the way;
He sees where, leaning on a stile,
Two sylvan nymphs in thought beguile
The slowly closing day.
He seems a Wanderer return’d
Yet doubtful of the way;
I pray you, gentle Ladies, tell,
From hence the way to yonder dell;
And tell how far, I pray.
The Stranger faulters as he speaks,
The maidens are entranced:
And one, her eye of heavenly blue,
Her lip, her cheek, of matchless hue—
On her the Traveller glanced;
On her the Traveller’s eye is fix’d,
Nor marks the fainter cheek,
That paler now and paler grows,
For well that voice the maiden knows,
But, O! she cannot speak.
She leans on blooming Rosa’s arm,
She droops her gentle head;
A sigh now meets the Traveller’s ear,
He starts—he turns that sigh to hear,
And clasps the sinking maid.
And presses to a faithful heart,
That never press’d before—
A heart that cherish’d that soft sigh,
When the loud tempest rag’d on high,
And in the battle’s roar.
To ―― ――. Note 7, page 51. The tale of Ellen. Numerous and beautiful fictions of this kind having before appeared, I am induced to apologize for introducing another victim of village tenderness and credulity, in a simple tale that presumes no interest independent of its authenticity— the object, too, rendered peculiarly interesting by circumstances of near residence, and frequent observation. In some cases, to draw a line between individual and general interest must be very difficult—I fear I have erred—Alas! sometimes I fear that I have altogether erred.—Ellen usually sat at the door of her father’s neat little cottage, singing at her wheel; upon the desertion of her lover, she still pursued her usual occupations, silent but uncomplaining. A few months after this event she was seen one morning to wander from her father’s house, in the manner decribed, by an old woman of the village, who also witnessed the fatal deed, too helpless either to prevent or aid. My Father and Brother fishing some way down the river, were the first who were alarmed by her cries for assistance; they soon succeeded in recovering the body of the unfortunate young woman, but all attempts to restore animation were ineffectual. The wish to give the account of this afflicting scene in the language of the simple relator—one of the prettiest, best, kindest, little old women I ever knew—was irresistable. Highly pleasing was the contemplation of so uncommon a share of beauty, simplicity, and sensibility in old age.—Kind and amiable Chronicler of many years—the eyes thou hast often suffused, are dim when I think of thee!
Now you go to the valley I left, and I pray
That you bear my best wishes to all;
O tell them no maiden should wander afar—
’Tis a pity they wander at all:
How thoughtless are they of the scorn of the town,
When they change village smiles for the cold-hearted frown.
Dear children of nature! she moulds them so fine,
Unfitting are they for the crowd;
She teaches that poor is the wealth of the rich,
And mean is the shew of the proud:
While resplendent in beauty, she wraps the young heart;
And from Nature her children can never depart.
Them, Genius too offers her treasures sublime,
While they wonder and weep at her lore;
And where the soft eye gave its first raptur’d tear—
There it ever will turn to adore. Note 8, page 52, line 4. There it ever will turn to adore. A Gentleman, as esteemed for his piety as admired for his talents has objected to this term—applied to less than Divinity. I admit his objection: yet, if Genius be an emanation140 I6v 140 nation of the Deity, perhaps, in the present instance, its use is justifiable; at least, it appears to me a doubtful point.— But ought not the words supplication, petition, &c; to be also restricted to addresses to the Divine Nature; as sacred to Almighty Power, as the former to the Perfection of Goodness and Wisdom? What presumptive arrogance on one hand—what unseemly degradation on the other, first introduced and still continues these preposterous associations!—In creatures of a day, whose petty distinctions are a passing pageant—what insolent assumption!—In immor tal beings designed for the perfection of all knowledge, vir tue, and happiness—what abasement!
Then how should they value the pomp of the high,
Who thro’ Nature and Genius have gazed on the sky.
Now you go to the village I love, and I pray
That you bring me some tidings from all;
God grant they are well, and all happy are they,
When no faithless lovers enthral:
But the Flower of the vale sings her ditty so true:
Who trusts to false man, O that maiden will rue!
When you pass the white cottage beneath the high hill,
You will see the fair Eleanor spinning;
And at eve, if you sit on the bank of the stream,
You will sigh to hear Eleanor singing;
For her tones are as sad as her ditty is true:
Who trusts to false man, O that maiden will rue!
Tho’ her tones are so sad, yet her smiles they are sweet;
And she weeps with her rosy cheek glowing:
But her Father’s last treasure is Ellen his child,
And tears down his pale face are flowing,
While he listens to Ellen’s sad ditty so true;
Who trusts to false man, O that maiden will rue.
Her old Father’s last treasure is Ellen his child,
No Mother sweet Ellen has known;
And the first smile that dimpled the Innocent’s cheek
Had melted a bosom of stone,—
To think of the heart that it could not beguile,
To give one fond throb to a Darling’s first smile!
And when the sweet Infant’s first accent essay’d—
How vain, the lorn Father to cheer!
For it seem’d like a knell to his widowed heart—
Unmated—the accent so dear;
And he turned from the Prater he could not behold
To weep where the heart that should triumph was cold.
But when Eleanor grew in her beauty and height,
And shewed to her Father’s fond view,
The bloom and the form of his lost one restor’d,
And smiled like his Eleanor too—
Her graces, her sweetness, the mourner beguiled—
And he smiled—like a Father,—he smiled on his child.
Then as Ellen would stray to the meads by his side,
And chaunt the wild wood-dells among;
He taught her this strain, tho’ he sigh’d as he taught,
And wept when she warbled the song
So sweetly—to tell her, the ditty was true:
Who trusts to false man, O that maiden will rue.
Now fair Ellen grew in her beauty and youth;
And the villagers said that the strain
Was the story of one who had lov’d all too well;
And they wished that he warned not in vain:
’Twas the story of one long the pride of the plain,
But she loved him who left her in sorrow and pain.
Who left her to mourn and to pine to her grave,
A wealthier bride to engage,
’Twas the sister he loved in the morn of his youth—
’Twas her that he mourned in his age:
While he taught his last treasure, a lesson so true:
Who trusts to false man, O that maiden will rue.
Now you go to the valley I love, and I pray
That you bring me some tidings from all;
God grant they are well—and all happy are they,
If no faithless lovers enthral;
But the Flower of the vale says her ditty is true:
Who trusts to false man, O that maiden will rue!
I come fron the village you left, and I bring
Kind wishes and tidings from all—
They regret one who wandered—who wandered afar;
And one they lament in her fall;
For the Flower of the vale lies beneath the church yew
Who trusted her Lover and found him untrue.
When I pass’d the white cottage beneath the high hills,
I saw no fair Eleanor spinning;
When at even I sat on the bank of the stream,
I heard no fair Eleanor singing;
Yet methought that I heard on the faint breeze that blew,
Who trusts to false man, O that maiden will rue!
The cottage was shut and within all was still,
’Twas a stillness my heart could not bear;
And I sought in the village some tidings to hear
Why no lovely Ellen was there;Now learn, gentle Lady, a lesson so true;— Who trusts to false man, O that maiden will rue!
Now listen, fair Lady, the old woman said,
While I tell what our Ellen befel;
For I saw our poor Eleanor come to her end,
And well I her story may tell:
But Ellen was crazed—you shall hear me tell why,
Or she ne’er would have left her old father to die.
For Ellen was all to her father she knew,
And she was a blessed sweet child;
But there came from some City a youth full of guile,
O they are all wicked and wild:
And so this sad youth our sweet Ellen beguiled;
Tho’ her father’s last treasure was Ellen his child.
Then our Eleanor hung her poor head if one pass’d,
And grew very lonesome and shy;
But none told her father the pitiful case,
They said that the old man would die.
So one beautiful morning as ever shone bright
Our Eleanor shut her sweet eyes on the light,
I saw her, and wondered a fancy so strange—
For she wandered as one in a dream!
But thoughtless, alack! of poor Ellen’s intent;
So she cross’d o’er the bridge of the stream;
And a little dear Eleanor linger’d and stray’d
On the bank, where an innocent baby she play’d!
I had seen her, fair Lady—O that e’er I should see
A sight that had nigh struck me dead;
She look’d in the stream—shut her sweet eyes again,
And—the waters clos’d over her head!
Now heed, lovely Lady, her ditty was true—
And she sleeps—our sweet Ellen, beneath the church yew.
The Winds around my cottage rudely blowing
Bear on the midnight hour a fearful tone,
Near and more near—loud and still louder growing;
Terrors shrill scream—
And now—a feeble, dying moan:—
Awaking from a fever’d dream—
I listen to the howling storm!
Slow from the dark and haunted stream,
Her shadowy arms uprise,
’Till all, appear’d a phantom maid;
Ah not in beauty’s wonted form,
As fair, and fond, but much betray’d,
And weary of her ceaseless woe,60 D6v 60
She sought a sleep
So still and deep,
Where, dark the waters flow.—
Blue vapours round her play’d
She cannot rest in deep and night,
And ever gleams a ghastly light
That haunts the unquiet shade.
Abhorring! from that light her eyes
Still turn, but turn in vain;—
Methought on me a look they cast
No eye might look again.
And then, methought a fatal claim!
Come victim of as false a flame!—
A murmur on the blast—
So indistinct the tone
That to the heart alone,
Spake, fearfully, and pass’d.
Then, then, she sunk the deep below:
Yet, still a shadowy arm did wave;
To her unblest, unhallow’d grave
Where dark the waters flow.
To ―― ――.
Sweet maid thy cheek’s soft roses peer
With those of rarest hue,
While on that cheek the pitying tear
Outvies the rose’s dew.
But once there was a cheek as fair
As any rose that blew—
Alas! if tears of early care
Should blanch my Carline’s too!
Young Anna was a lovely maid,
And I remember well,
Where shelter’d by the elm-grove shade,
Did gentle Anna dwell.
For then a little vagrant foot
Sought Anna’s garden bowers;
And there a playful prattler’s suit,
Won Anna’s fairest flowers.
And I remember Anna’s smile,
That oft I flew to meet,—
If it disguis’d a tear the while,
I saw no smile so sweet.
But Anna grew a pensive maid,
And then she lov’d to rove,
Beneath the silent, sullen shade,
Of L***’s deserted grove.
A time-reft tree of baneful yew,
A mould’ring mansion near;
Appall’d whoe’er their legend knew,
’Twas such a tale of fear.
Yet, soon, she left her peaceful cot,
Her gardens flow’ry bound,
And sought the desolated spot
When night-birds scream’d around.
Unheard her solitary sigh,
Unmark’d her frequent tear,
Still smiling to each smiling eye,
She only sorrow’d here.
None save the pensive Anna, nigh
Approach’d the dreary scene,
Unlovely weeds rose wild and high,
Where sweetest flowers had been;
So base to sight, yet bold, to brave
Reflection’s sick’ning view,
O spoilers proud o’er virtue’s grave—
They look’d, methought, like you.
Still Anna sought the blighted yew,
In L***’s deserted shade;
And there from every eye withdrew
The sad mysterious maid.
And very pale grew Anna’s cheek,
But none knew Anna’s care:
They said the wintry blast so bleak,
Had chill’d the roses there;
And spring would come, and Anna bloom
When other flowers were gay:
The spring-flow’rs deck’d her humble tomb,
Once fairer far than they.
Young Anna mourn’d no treach’rous vow,
Nor unrequited flame;
The tears that laid the mourner low,
Embalm’d a spotless fame.
Still lives in every tender breast,
How early Anna fell
By strange untimely cares opprest,
And still, as fond, they tell,
How much the village maidens find
Their artless wonder move,
That one so fair and gentle, pined
And died—but not for love!
Belov’d Alicia! to my humid eye
Arose thy waning form—not lovelier
The beauteous Mother sung by Scotia’s bard—
That pale rose, rudely torn by savage hands.
But who shall tell thy sadder destiny—
Who shall seek thy lone retreat, and mark thee there
Submissive, smiling in thy lingering doom.—
O early mother of a lovely train;
Had Heaven so pleased, a happy mother thou!
For thou wert moulded in the truest frame
Of quiet worth, and patient gentleness.
Home all thy pleasure—all thy world—thy home.
—Once in our girlhood’s days, in playful mood,
Rambling where fancy or chance associate
Might lure, I saw thy fairy form resting
On a low wicket—and approach’d unheard67 E2r 67
To watch thy musings. Serenest pleasure
Mark’d thy fair brow:—the time—the scene—compeers
In silent stillness, as with thee the hour—
The shades—had thought. Ah careless then whose voice
Arous’d the trance, and thus you hail’d the wand’rer:—
Whence come you idler to disturb us all;
Methinks the very daisies look at you
With eyes as wild as yours—what conquest new
Elates thee, thou coquette of streams and shades?
Thus I return thy raillery—O proudAlice, now disclose your musings, Alice, Enough for me the coquetries these haunts Invite—my loves these Bards, and as they woo, My yielding heart receives the various form. But you, Alice, from gayer scenes what dreams Hold you here? Does humble love enthral you While rival domes in lofty state invite A beauteous dame and Alice doubt to chuse?
Full well I knew thy heart, knew all its wish,
And lov’d to hear it all disclosed.—Go taunting girl and know 68 E2v 68 The humble Alice far too proud to yield Even this little heartless form for aught So poor: O ’tis a richer dwelling, I Delight to rear—the dear domestic home Of mutual love, and I will trust that power That gracious, smiling, thro’ these scenes imprompts The choice it sanctions—I will trust, to bless.
—Alas, for thee my Alice! rudest storms
Have shatter’d thy fair dwelling, and nipt all
The flow’rs thou hadst planted round, my Alice!
O, maiden, is the Poet’s breast,
Where thou so coy, so calm wilt rest.
I long have sought thee ev’ry where;
And if thou quiet shelterest there
From noisy joy and busy care
I would I were that bosom’s guest—
I would not break its peaceful rest.
I come not like some Lady gay,
With such I know thou wouldst not stay;
I bring a pensive tear-dimm’d eye;
A cheek without the rosy die,
The wreck of sensibilty,
And early sorrow’s with’ring day,
And much I weary of the way,
And now I would I were with thee,
Where’er thou art—Tranquillity.
But is a Poet’s breast thy seat?
I had not sought such guest to greet
Where all haughtier feelings meet:
Thou art some proud—Tranquillity
I fear—not what that maid should be.
And now that I reflect a while,
Thou hast no tear, thou wear’st no smile—
Thou canst not be that timid maid,
Of summer’s glowing suns afraid,
And how the wintry gloom beguile—
Such chilling gloom—without a smile!
At least awhile withdraw thy claim,
And leave him to a humbler dame;
Now Poet would that I might be,
That simple little maid to thee;
And thou a sheltering rest to me:71 E4r 71
A little feeble mortal frame
Has known to soothe the sons of fame,
When other Power’s invoked in vain
Have shun’d th’ intruders grief and pain,
From such, as Poets are not free;
P’rhaps not the best of Poets—thee,
O then I would that I might be,
Thy nurse—to try some soothing strain;
To close thy eyes on grief and pain,
And watch thy rest, and think the while
How I might wake thee with a wile
That should the cruel ills disarm,
Of more than half their power to harm,
For grief and pain there is a charm;
And e’en the breast that knows no guile,
Might harmless think of such a wile.
If vain conceit and low-born pride,
Affect to judge and dare deride;72 E4v 72
O would I might be near thee now,
And gently smoothe thy ruffled brow,
And tell—I could not tell thee—how
Revered thy talents, nor how wide,
That now by ignorance decried,
A host of feeling hearts approve:
I would not have such folly move,
Thy generous heart—thy ample mind
For mightier purposes design’d;
But bid thee turn from these and find
What Poet’s breast should ever prove,
The boundless bliss of—boundless love
To an Infant. Note 9, page 73. To an Infant. To an Infant. This beloved infant died a short time after. Circumstances of a very affecting nature had rendered it an object of peculiar and tender concern.—When it was put to nurse several Ladies made small collections, and these they still continue to appropriate to the use of the remaining children.
Is it Baby, on thy brow
I, superior beauty trace,
Or doth my heart supply the grace?
Since not pity’s tears that flow;
But mother’s joy and mother’s woe
Bedew thy face.
From thy dying mother’s side
I took thee, Baby, to my breast;
And, Baby, it should be thy rest
I said, when thy own mother dy’d:
But thou hast mothers more beside—
O little Baby blest.
Thy brother twin, beside thee lay,
A fine and healthy pair;74 E5v 74
The good old women they did pray
They told me, thro’ the live-long day—
And soon a little corpse of clay,
I saw that Baby fair.
I gazed upon thee in thy sleep,
The women gazed on me;
They seemed amazed that I should weep,
And still the pious pray’r they keep,
The prayer was for thee.
God take it to his rest they said,
O God preserve for me,
The women’s pious looks upbraid
The prayer I made for thee.
When warm with life that little boy,
I thought ye were the loveliest pair,
That ever blest a mother’s care;
But now methought, he look’d unmeet
Associate, for one so sweet,
In death—that grimly boy.—
If they approach’d my baby near;
And still I looked upon thy face,
And thought upon thy parents, dear,—
How they had marked its cherub grace
And bathed it with a prouder tear.
I was thy own proud Mother then—
A mother in her pride;—
A mother by that surer sign
Than any thing beside:
And then I press’d thee in my glee,
And smil’d, a mother’s smile, on thee.
And for a neighbouring woman mild,
I sent in joy and haste—
A woman kind and goodly fair;
I bless’d and gave thee to her care,
And thou, dear little babe, wert bless’d,
To warm and nourish at her breast,
Like her own happy child.
Then glancing on the corpse of clay
I asked them When they thought to lay
The little boy beside his mother:
They said, They meant some-time’s delay,
For it would be a precious day!
By God’s good grace,—a blessed day!
To lay thee with thy little brother.
I know not how I gazed on thee—
I snatched thee from thy cradle then,
And held thee to my heart;
And then I shudder, turn, and start
As near were ruffian men;
It seem’d, my babe, as over thee
There hung a deadly destiny:—
And then I thought thy lips were cold,
And mine were colder still,
While closer to my breast I fold,
Methought their very breath would kill—
These women, with their evil will,
Next day she brought thee to my home,
And soon from far and near
Did many, many mothers come,
To bless thee Baby dear;
And every mother kiss’d thee wild—
As thou had’st been, her orphan child!
If thou wilt live, my little dove,
Thou ne’er wilt miss a mother’s love;
For all thy wants they amply gave;
And good thy foster-parents are:—
Thy widow’d mother’s timeless grave
Hath made thee, many mothers’ care.
Come, dear girls, leave your books and work
And let us to the meads away;
Nay, prudent quiet Anna come—
To leisure give the passing day.
See tip-toe, how our Mary stands
Impatience in her wand’ring eye,
Our little Mary had she wings,
As any lark, she’d fly as high.
I miss’d her—sought her, this long morn—
I sought for her but ev’ry where,
Where can one find an idle thing
I said—that is not any where!
Where.—answered then the little witch;
Again I look’d the orchard round,
And on the high tree’s highest top,
Her book and her I found.
From this she learns her idle art,
But when she murmur’s o’er her spell,
Or blame or chide howe’er we may,
She knows we love it all too well.
—Come, dear girls come, the evening sun’s
Pale melancholy parting gleam,
I know you dearly love to watch;
I court its brighter rising beam.
Yet sweet with you at morn or ev’n—
And, come, beloved Julia do—
Come, take my arm, we’ll gently walk,
And Anna’s arm shall aid to thee too—
—The rose, so new on Mary’s cheek,
How bright it glows I think to day;
Did Mary never leave her charge,
To mark some flowret on her way.
Go mark the flowers—go, idle thing,
As ever sports in summer’s day;
Our sober talk will ne’er detain,
A thing so ever wont to stray.—
—Nay, nay return, and take my arm;
Forgive a brother’s raillery:
I cannot lose one darling girl—
One darling girl of all the three.
Anna discreet, and nice and fair,
Yet if a brother might be free;
To Mary half your quiet care—
And you a portion of her glee,
I’d give—and Mary well could spare;—
At least of follies, half her store;—
But wise fifteen! believe me Anne
Her follies would become it more.
And, what to Julia, Brother, sage—
What to your Julia can you spare?
Turned ev’ry eye on that sweet form
The youthful comrades only care.
Their hearts would yield the vital stream,
To give that cheek its wonted die!
No tongue could speak—the sudden tear
The heaving bosom’s tender sigh—
The lovely victim knew their speech—
As silent made her meek reply;—
No sigh disturb’d her breast, serene,
No tear-drop dimm’d her beaming eye,
But prompt to check their rising grief,
She smiled a smile of joy and love;
And if to fade, so young and dear
Did ought her inward spirit move—
Repress’d, in quiet calm controul;
It seem’d a soul of perfect rest;—
Why should those tears so vainly fall,
To mourn an Angel blest.
Thus she beguil’d us with her smiles,
Thro’ eight returning summers’ flight;
So soon had health the suff’rer fled,
That twenty, quench’d their mortal light.
The world to us was new and dear,
And gave our wishes ample scope:
Then, O how like the smiles of Heaven,
The smile of youthful hope.
So she deceiv’d us with those smiles;
We thought our Julia long to see—
Sometimes we gazed on distant spheres
And wished together we might flee.
But, ah, we little thought that she,
Our Julia, to our hearts so dear,
Could, smiling, leave the scenes she lov’d—
Could leave us too without a tear!
We shudder’d at a new-rais’d grave,—
Her spirit never look’d so low;
We love our Angel in her skies,
But weep the mould’ring form below.
Genius endow’d her ample mind,
And few so deeply—justly thought:
So fond, so wise, so meek, so firm;
It was a mind divinely fraught.
Our Julia liv’d to twenty years;
Partook in all our little store
Of household joys—simple and few;
And oft in summer’s mildest hours,
She sought with us the hill or grove;—
An eye of more devoted love.
She turn’d her eye of joy and love,
On faces sweet and dear to her;
She seem’d, of all, the happiest there—
And ev’ry eye was bent on her.
The proud, the great, the wit, the wise,
Had paus’d, perhaps, if passing nigh
To mark a simple, rustic group:
But aught beneath our bounded sky,
Howe’er so wise, howe’er so great,
Had found their light in Julia’s eye:—
We lov’d to gaze upon the stars,—
Our Julia’s gaze was wond’rous high!
Is there who would have dimm’d that look—
Averr’d that like the flower—the grass—
That soul of love—of joy—of hope—
Of truth—eternal truth—must pass?
What gave our Julia joy in life,
Who knew that long she must not stay;—
How could she smile on those she lov’d,
While conscious she might leave, to-day!—
Thro’ years of pain and ling’ring death—
Necessity, affliction’s charm—
Did Fate, the specious lore of schools,—
Philosophy, our Julia arm!
Ah, no! that mind of faith and love,
Knew it could never—never die!
and all she fondly lov’d, she left,
To meet beneath a brighter sky!
To Mrs. J―― B――
O, we were pale with very fright,
To stand upon the craggy height,
And view the chasm deep and wild,
Where the rebel warrior urg’d his steed;
And, often told, again beguiled,
The idle hour of ling’ring light,
With the story of the valorous Knight,
And this most desperate deed.
Sure he was true in love, we said,
Or Heav’n had ne’er the Rebel sped,
When from the King’s true men, he fled.
And here, perhaps, the faithful maid,
Has shudd’ring mark’d the depth below:—
I fear they never met again:88 F4v 88
’Tis said he crossed the fearful main,
Where timid maidens cannot go.
Dear Anna! since that happy day,
How often have I heard thee say,
That thou wouldst cross the fearful main—
Brave every danger, every pain,
Attend him in the horrid fray,
Where gory slaughter marks his way,
Nor ever quit thy Sailor’s side—
The Hero of thy fondest pride!
To ―― ――.
Far from the fields where we have stray’d,
From scenes where yet you tarry—
Does this remembrance upbraid,
Or hast thou thought of me, Mary?
O pleasant were the fields with thee,
And pleasant was the time;
And dear our hopes, and dear our glee,
Our youth was in its prime.
With me these days too swiftly fled,
With thee the best remain;
In taste mature—by reason led—
The fairest of the train.
I do not envy thee thy lot,
I love thee far too well;
Where fairy hands adorn the spot,
’Tis fit the Fairy dwell.
Thy lovers call thy wit divine,
And beauties thou hast many;
But I have seen thee brightest shine,
When little mark’d by any.
Let Lordlings yield to Ladies sway,
And tremble at their feet;
Thine is a far more glorious day,
A triumph nobly great.
The peasant from his daily toil,
With weary step returning;
Hath caught a spirit from thy smile,
A gladness proud and daring.
Thy frank good-night—thy beaming eye
Hath lent the toil-bent man;
A thought of that equality,
Beyond life’s little span.
Oppress’d by fellow-man’s controul,
The mind, obscur’d and dark,
Warms with thy emanative soul,
And glows a kindred spark.
Where, too, the cottage wife besought,
And children bade thee tarry;
Thy heart, with loving-kindness fraught,
There brightest shone, dear Mary.
(After Reading Some Pieces of Exquisite Pathos.)
These sighs—these tears—how fond they prove
The yielding mind’s soft sympathy—
How vain! too high to heed the love
That simply weeps, and blesses thee.
Unknown each phrase of skilful praise,
She bends a timid fearful eye—
Yet, oft that timid eye will raise
As if it, almost, wish’d thee nigh:
By all thy tender woes beguil’d,
The magic of thy minstrelsy;
She sees, but Sorrow’s wond’rous child,
And loves, for Sorrow’s child is she.
—While trembling o’er thy wounded heart,
E’er yet her wasted being end,
O would’st thou one fond bliss impart—
Return her care—and be her friend!
Vain wish! for her no pensive muse
Bends graceful o’er her humble strain;
Ah, why this gentle boon refuse—
Why form to feel, but feel in vain!
—Short, tho’ its dark and cheerless day
Since life to her is all unblest;
How oft she chides the weary way,
How cold her aching heart would rest.
’Twas a lone hut, where, sick as she journey’d
A poor wand’rer lay—ah, long from all of
Peace and good—long had she stray’d and grievous
’Twere, abandon’d and alone, unaided
And uncheer’d, to bear the accumulated ills.
—Unwelcome shades of the unwelcom’d day,
Now told the tir’d one th’ approach of tedious
Night—long days and nights—pain early taught
How slow its watchful hours: in childhood oft
Had I press’d the couch of ling’ring sickness;
And when health, and joy, smil’d on my young cheek
As fond to bless with all their dearest gifts
Their long neglected child—I ne’er forgot
The past—how, still, o’er all my pain, Pity
Unwearied hung, and she requires that boon
From Sorrow’s victims which she kindly gives.
—Obscur’d by wild flow’rs of unheeded growth,95 F8r 95
Autumnal twilight’s last sick glimm’rings, beam’d
Thro’ the patch’d window, faint fantastic shapes;
And all the scene, and the pale hour so still,
Blending with meekest sympathies, attuned,
To tenderness and love, the thinking mind.
I sought with cautious step the Suff’rer’s bed
Lest sleep perhaps, and dreams most precious
To the wretch, dreams of innocence, and health,
Might charm her wounded mind with transient peace.
And she did sleep;—so quietly I pass’d,
And sitting on the rude bench watch’d the night
Closing around.—Methought unusual gloom
Hung on the dark’ning scene, and oft I turned
List’ning, with breath suppress’d, her waking sigh.—
To the sick sense of returning anguish
Unwatch’d to wake, to thee, poor outcast, must
Alas! most grievous be.—How still—how chill—
This lonely place—I almost fear to wait
Thy waking, Mary.—Good Spirits! guard
Thy sleep—’tis long and peaceful.—Restore her,
Gracious Heaven! and as I have gain’d, I hope96 F8v 96
With Thy bless’d aid I may amend, her heart!—
Sleep, sleep, poor suff’rer! I will not leave thee.—
Darkness envelop’d all—grim mock’ries fill’d
The undistinguished void when the last hour
Broke on the solemn silence, fearfully!
Awaking from a trance of thought I rose.
Mary!—I whispered low—Mary!—no voice
Replied—no sigh. I said the fever hath
Lethargic pow’r—poor burning, throbbing brow!—
I bend—my hand extend—and gently touch—
Aghast I stood!—death! death, unfelt before,
Yet instant known, froze my young heart with fear
And dread amaze!—How sudden! and, Oh God!
How unprepar’d!—Departed! where art thou?—
I clasp’d my hands in agonizing thought.—
Then rush’d the mightiest tide of kindred love!
My soul pursued her guilty sister’s flight,
I pour’d, in terror wild, the phrensied prayer—
Vain!—I heard th’ eternal doom.—Tumultuous97 G1r 97
And presumptful thoughts arose, that Vengeance
Was not Justice.—Rebellion, new and strange—
Grief quell’d the tumult and I sunk o’ercome.
Oh—I shall never hail the sun, nor more
Shall hail the face of vernal beauty, fair—
Nor smile to see the smile of infant love—
Nor bless my God in thankfulness and joy,
But loathe the life He gave!—O desp’rate woe!—
Religion—canst thou offer hope to me,
While to eternal misery, condemn’d
Millions of human kind?—go, poor! poor!
Comfort.—O Thou, Almighty God! art Thou
Indeed our Father?—are we Thy children?—
Thy crimeless children once—and what is life?—
Frail creatures of a few unhappy years.
Oh, wilt Thou doom to everlasting woe!
The annexed Pieces were intended for a separate publication—I had made some progress in a tale of uncommon circumstance and melancholy interest before I reflected that it might possibly be objectionable to the feelings of some living characters.
Madame Genlis, in one of her novels, assigns the Supreme power to Court Love, and places our Village Deity in an inferior station.—I should be presumptuous indeed to oppose Madame on a doubtful point; but truth and nature, and I believe general opinion decide against her.—That love reigns despotic over artless minds—alike the source of their virtues and their happiness, their errors, and their misery, remains not to be proved; and although the above mentioned instance affectingly exemplified this opinion yet the simplicity of truth would rarely amuse or instruct after vivid descriptions of fiction.
To ―― ――.
Ask—ask not how my cheek is pale—
Await its paler—colder tale:
Urge not my tongue, reluctant now;
Soon will its silence tell thee—how.
And when no voice will meet thy ear,
Nor e’er ’till then—thy heart may hear.
Impatient, then, thou wilt not turn
When I nor sigh—nor look—nor mourn;—
How quiet will this bosom lie,
Nor one pulse throb—tho’ thou art nigh.
’Tis then—tis there—a cheek so pale,
Unscorned may tell so frail a tale.
And then perhaps e’en thou mayest prove
To love a heart thou canst not move.
To ―― ――.
O thou unknown disturber of my rest,
Ceaseless intruder, life-consuming foe;
Proud o’er my fall, and in my sorrow, blest,
Destroyer of a love thou ne’er canst know—
And life with love—O leave me—spare me now—
On that bless’d moment while I fondly dwell,
When kind some pitying Genii heard my vow
And as my trembling fingers touch’d the spell, Note 11, page 102, line 8. And as my trembling fingers touch’d the spell. Superstitious relics, witchcrafts, spells, &c; have already appeared in so many notes of various writers, that I fear I am scarcely justified in adding to the number: and, as in the present instance, I can produce no positive testimony, either recorded or verbal, whether it be ancient or modern, local or general, (for, whether practised only in the dear little vale of C. or if its influence extend over the United Kingdoms I am wholly uncertain) it shrinks into comparative insignificance. Yet I think some explanation necessary, and this I can with certainty communicate:—In C. and its neighbourhood when fowls make part of a repast, it is very common for some of the company to challenge others to break with them a bone, called, I suppose from this custom, the merry-thought. The possessor of the longer piece will, it is said, in the country phrase, be married first.— lest my spell should be despised for its simplicity, I beg to 141 I7r 141 assure my readers, that seeing it once tried by two lovers, who were soon after united; the bone in question, which is forked, snapped off, in equal parts on each side the root that joins it, to the extreme astonishment, and no little amusement of all present. Alas! I once saw a trembling hand try this spell, and when similarly successful saw a blushing cheek, a sweet but fearful smile that anticipated a broken heart.—I fear I have in these pieces introduced sentiments too connected with circumstances unknown to the reader to produce a separate interest.
Propitious to my wish bestow’d the skill
That gave,—O more than wealth, or fame could give;
My Henry gave, by fate’s resistless will,
And snatch’d from death and made it bliss to live,
To live for him, and at Love’s sanctioned shrine
Pledge my devoted heart, and clasp that treasure mine.
To ―― ――.
O timeless guest!—so soon return’d art thou,
Hope’s sickly gleam with cruel haste to quench,
To mock the pray’r, and scorn the trembling vow,
I feel thy fatal power and vainly bid thee hence.—
Still, still thou com’st in dreadful guise to me,
Howe’er to others fair thy form appear;
Not shapeless things with midnight witchery
Could so appal my soul—so chill my breast, with fear!
—Now fateful is thy look!—thou lead’st me,—where?
O well, thou lead’st me to my destin’d place,
And bid’st me close my eyes for ever there.
Nor view thee wrapp’d in Henry’s dear embrace:
Yes—proud one, haste thee to the nuptial shrine,
I sleep in death’s cold arms—ere Henry sleep in thine.
To ―― ――.
—It is not, thou, guiltless as pow’rless thing—
A heart that owns thee no superior sway.
Fate’s instrument art thou, and I obey.—
It is not thou, for no exalted grace
Adorns thy mind—of no exalted race,
Humbler in all than her who yields to thee,
Last bitt’rest ill of adverse destiny!
—And thou too, cruel Hope, that still beguil’d,
And deepest wounded when thou brightest smiled,
Thro’ wasted years of ling’ring pain hast led,
Then bad’st me raise to life my aching head,
Held to my raptur’d view one faithful friend—
O treach’rous gift!—I lov’d!—and Hope, thy treach’rous end!
To ―― ――.
Return again, bless’d moment, O return!
Return again, thou dream of dear delight!
And Fancy too, on fleetest pinions borne,
And Hope, again return with promise ever bright.—
I feel your influence stealing o’er my breast,
That, softly swelling, owns your witching power;
O now ye paint a scene of blessed rest,
Far from the busy world—at evening’s silent hour.—
—How lonely sweet!—in visionary youth
Where oft I mark’d the dewy shadows steal;
’Till all entranced in dreams of love and truth,
E’en then thy graceful traits these dreams of love reveal;
Tho’ indistinct the beauteous phantom rose,
To charm the musing hour, and soothe the nights repose.
To ―― ――.
Illusions fair! again my Henry bring;
Not indistinct your lovely mockery now,
For I have gazed delighted on his form,
And press’d, with trembling lip, his graceful brow.
—Oh well, I know my Henry loves me still,
And who as Ellen e’er will love again?
Who soothe in every pain—in every woe,
Who love like her—who loves alas in vain?
Who leave the crowd afar to live for him,
Watch his return, at twilight’s promised hour,
And smiling greet him, if his fortunes smile,
But closer press him then if fickle fortunes lower!
Then bid him leave the worthless scene and prove
Spite of a changing world, the bliss of changeless love!
To ―― ――.
Nor in these glades would Henry mourn the change,
What in that world could claim my Henry’s care
Nor from these arms would Henry’s wishes range,
To dwell regretful on some brighter fair.
—But if, unbidden, gayer scenes arise—
The midnight dance—the dazz’ling vain parade—
The splendid fair—and Henry’s bosom sighs
For pleasures past, forget his simple maid;
Love, grant thy aid to catch that vagrant sigh!
Some dearer spell than haughty beauty knows,
With nameless magic grace the melting eye—
The silent tear that tender fears disclose—
Recal the truant to her breast again,
And change to sweeter bliss the momentary pain.
To ―― ――.
Not death I fear—O, but to die of grief
That ling’ring poison!—from my lips you caught
With pitying hand the draught so deadly fraught
And look’d—an antidote to grief.
And since that hour ’tis thine to give,
Or to withhold, Oh thou, my destiny!
Oh press not on my sick’ning soul—
The hand that saved—the fatal bowl!
The stern behest, Oh not from thee!
Yet love me, and I live.—
And now my arms so fondly press
Now tell me, if indeed I bless—
Could’st thou resign this tender form
In love so fond—with life so warm—
To the dark grave where worms deform?
O tell me—if indeed I bless!
To ―― ――.
Wilt thou e’er find a love like mine?
Look on those eyes that gaze on thine:—
Those eyes would weep thy slightest pain,
And canst thou let them plead in vain?
And will thy lips pronounce my doom?
Yet not the dark and silent tomb
I fear—but long, long days unblest—
But nights of cruel agony!
What nights will bring my night of rest,
To think where thou wilt be!—
Perhaps when worn with wasting woe
I find a quiet grave,
To thee ’twill be a bitter throe,
To think thou wouldst not save!
To ―― ――.
I know thou lov’st the lore that tells thee all
Thy Isett’s heart—secure in mournful tale,
That seeks thy care when ruthless ills assail!
Or breathes the tend’rest wish, in fiction’s guise
Eluding angry frowns, fearless it flies,
To bless thee, even in a tyrant’s thrall.—
Scorning the envious list’ner it pours
Fond on thy conscious ear, the silent sigh;
And when thou read’st how one true maid adores
She marks the trembling softness in thine eye!
You praise the strain—beloved maid! you say,
But much she blames the foolish maiden’s lay,
Resentful of the wrong her champion—you—
With sweet applauding smiles, the wily theme pursue.
To ―― ――.
Yet—yet forbear the cruel theme
The fatal truth forbear,
Nor chase the fond delusive dream
That leaves me to despair.
Disturb not yet this treacherous rest
Awhile thy victim spare,
Nor mock while hanging on thy breast
The dream thou canst not share.
Deck’d all the scene with gayest flow’rs
Thy fancy loves to stray,
But poisonous weeds and baneful bow’rs
There meet my wandering way.
’Twas in its dreary maze beguil’d
Involv’d in night and storm,
I sought thee in my terrors wild.
And clasped a fearful form!
Thy life, my death—thy weal, my woe,—
Thy love—no—not my hate—
But whom thou lov’st my bitt’rest foe,
My sad and certain fate!
Yet sorrow now were shewn too soon,
Too soon, for one so bless’d—
And then it were too late a boon,
To grieve for one at rest.—
O thou art all my world of bliss,
And while thou yet art mine,
To hold thee to my heart like this!
I would not once repine.
Not once, too vast the joy I deem
With aught of pain to share,
And tho’ ’tis all a treacherous dream
That leaves me to despair,
Yet proudly will thy Ellen scorn
To weep such transient woes,—
That day will have a fearful morn—
But night and death will close!
Low at thy shrine a suppliant kneels,
An anxious breast that deeply feels—
O tell when once a maiden saw
The youth resistless as thy law,
Did happy omens bless the hour—
And didst thou gentlest favors show’r?
O didst thou smile benignant—bland—
And rule that day with golden wand?
—What fears—what harrowing fears arise!
And all the gay illusion flies.
Ah no!—upon that evil day
Thy dark eye beam’d no cheering ray.
I shudd’ring note thy direst frown,
I see thee weave a baneful crown,115 H2r 115
While pointing to thy iron page
Each mystic emblem marks thy rage.
—Thy victim death alone can save
O seal her doom—an early grave!
To ―― ――.
——Good-Night! once more Good-Night— Yet, Loiterer, stay!
Good goes with thee and only night remains.
O two-fold night! the dreary night of hope;
Nor morn, nor aught but thy return can chase
Its heavier gloom.—In vain thou bidst me rest—
Thou, my rest, my peace, fond mocker, fleest me:
Sleep tarries not when thou art gone, or stays
To chill my heart with very fearful things;
To hurl me from some dreadful precipice
Or drag me to some deathful haunt,—loathsome
To human eye.—But when thou sitt’st beside
My fev’rish couch, and hold’st my trembling hand,
Looking all love—grief’s smiling Guardian!—
That sweetest look, and that benignant smile,
Charms sleep—it cannot fly thee; but imprest
With all thy image, at thy soft bidding
Wraps its conscious charge.—
Reflections.118 H3v 119 H4r 119
Inspires the Poet’s mind—I disclaim all
Vain pretensions to thy aid; I, nor ask
Thy gifts, nor envy who possess—enough
For me to love—to bless—enough, so sweet
The sympathy, to mark, with dewy eye
Where they have wept—to heave the conscious breast
Where they have sigh’d—heart, mind, to be all theirs!
Thus wheresoe’er they lead thro’ native scenes,
Or far o’er distant seas, whose classic shores,
Invite their search—delightful still to range,
Nor unexplored a grove, nor left a haunt,
Where they have stray’d, unlov’d.—Nor unpursued
Their flight, proud when this sublunary scene120 H4v 120
They leave—borne by their magic pow’r, till sinks
The feeble sense, o’ercome in wondrous height,
Immensity sublime, and glorious light!
And the rapt soul, sick’ning in ecstasy,
Pale the faint cheek—and the eye close, as Heav’n
Had pitying caught a spirit soaring from
A world it scorn’d too much to brook return!—
Dear, dangerous themes farewell! for oh, ye ill
Befit life’s rugged way—bestrewn with cares—
Ye ill befit. Yet did ye not imprompt
The Mother’s aim? Maternal love! be thine
The meed—pure relic of that perfect work
Divinely wrought, my strain inspire, worthless
In aught but thee—and if I fail, O check
Each prouder wish—urge, where thy duties point,
Painful howe’er the path, ennobled all
By thee.—Say not a Mother’s love will yield
Her life—a mother may do more—may live!
Dear Boy! on whose soft cheek the first tear fell
Untimely cold—beloved Boy! consign’d
E’er life’s warm pulse had throbb’d thy innocent heart—
Consigned by pious wishes to the grave
Where thy poor father slept—O had he blest
His Boy—once blest.—Unwelcom’d loveliness!—
Unconscious Boy! how glad are thy sweet smiles,
Nor check’d by cold regards indifference bears
In her unsmiling eyes; reckless of all
The various ills the hard world pours, sweet Boy!
On helpless ones. Now ’tis thy mother feels—
O could she ever feel, so she might guard
Her Boy!—Ye generous few, that yet unchanged
In her lone home the widow’d Mother seek
And bless, with tear supprest, her timeless Boy,
And find a thousand charms in his fair face,
In his blue smiling eyes, the promise bright,
Of intellectual worth—her heart thanks you—
Ye read its thanks in the unwonted glow
Of the sick cheek—in the faint gleam that speaks122 H5v 122
Hope in the eye that joy hath ever fled:
Pity’s true votaries! ye have caught her tear,
Her tone, her smile—her smile of wondrous charm
To soothe or bless—and blessing ye are blest.
O Pity, half-celestial of birth,
So much of Heaven—mortal thou canst not be—
Divested of thy tears, thy smiles survive,
Divinest sympathy!—immortal these.
—There are, but are not thine, a prudent train—
Cool, formal, cautious—monotonous
Of soul, of aspect hard, inflexible,
Yet where th’ imperious voice of duty bids
They go; but never quit their narrow path.—
Much praise is due and the world amply pays
The tribute they deserve.—But, O beware,
Ye delicate of mind, if tost on life’s
Uncertain sea, how ye attempt these rocks
Of charity, stern with perpetual cold;123 H6r 123
No refuge they afford the bleeding heart!
O shun, as your worst fate, th’ ungenial shore:
Those should not suffer, who ne’er gave a pain;
And when the conscious deed of better days,
The recollected tears for others wept,
Have check’d your own, rather will ye hazard
All the storm, than succour seek from thence; the rude
And weather-beaten veteran in woe,
On the hard soil may find enough for life,
Prolong his wintry day, and sleep in peace!
Such meed is theirs—yet oft the boon
Bestow’d so joylessly is thanklessly received:
Who deems ingratitude is natural
To man?—they make the charge who are themselves
The cause—O too rare for wealth, to purchase
Gratitude! yet lives in rudest breasts—
Go, frigid reasoner! Go, stern moralist!
And learn to bless!—Go, mark the bounteous orb
That rising in his strength, diffusive smiles!
The kindly warmth, all nature owns, where is124 H6v 124
A spot so base, that hails it not with tears!
O did ye feel the privilege to aid,
In that best privilege, supremely blest,
Nor seek the proud distinctions nature ne’er
Gave—content of creatures to be happiest
Spontaneously the thanks of grateful hearts
――I saw a sick old man, fault’ring
His step, his aspect, pale as his white hairs;
He seem’d past compeer’s, so aged—tremors,
Involuntary, shook his feeble frame.—
Late in the waning year on some stripp’d tree
Oft I have mark’d a solitary leaf,
Tremble in every breeze, and watch’d, and watch’d,
In idlest sympathy, and I have call’d
The elements ungentle!—O but then
I little knew that man—a thing so frail,
So wither’d, lorn, and past the time of man—
Could question with rough words and stern demand125 H7r 125
And so ungently give the little boon
That little life required.――
――’Twas such a form
So trembling—old—repell’d a miscreant wretch,
When from his fell pursuit, a wand’ring maid
Far from all other help sought his lone cot.
Instant his arm upraised in stern repulse
The staff, support of many years—faithful
In this strange service—Wretch, begone he cried,
Or, if thou darest—kill an aged man,
For never shalt thou pass while I have life!
Abash’d the Ruffian sped. Timid old man
What recollected boon could thus impart,
Unwonted courage, thy bent form elate,
Nerve thy feeble arm, and string thy trem’lous
Tongue to firmer speech?—What important good?
The simple courtesy of village maid,
No more; a smile, or chance a tear, to lore
Of days long past, dear to the good old man,
While to the maid, dear was the old man’s joy.
I was the loneliest thing on earth
When sorrows press’d me sore—
I thought of ev’ry living friend
But most of her, no more!
I wander’d to that dearest place,
My parents peaceful dome;
My sister, brother, happy seem’d
As when I left my home.
They bless’d their lost one with a smile,
I trembled then with fear—
Lest my full bosom’s rising throb
Might change it to a tear.
I sought my young companions then
And all were dear to see;
But mirth danced light in every eye,
My tears would check their glee.
—My spirit sought my Julia’s grave
I had no earthly spot of rest—
Nor other spot where I might weep,
And not disturb some happy breast.
On reading in Miss Seward’s Letters, Vol. VI. p. 43, I have called Mrs. Smith’s Sonnets Everlasting Duns on Pity.
Thou ceaseless Mourner—all thy suff’rings o’er,
Art silent and forgetful—not forgotten—
Sacred thy woes and plaints—till—her’s, too, rest,
To whose young heart, thine were not—Pity’s Duns!—
Dear were thy claims, and all thou claim’st, she gave.
To Seward’s feeling mind, could sorrow’s voice—
That ever sacred voice—appeal in vain?
And thine, to Genius, as to Pity, dear,
Was, O! a strain so sweet who would but weep?
Soft as thy pensive lines, the tear that dew’d them.
Oft in her favorite haunt!—a lonely dell,
Where the green sward unpress’d by vagrant foot129 I1r 129
Invited rest secure, or tranquil thought—
While unheard the streamlet ever murmur’d—
She, to no human ear, hath told, pensive,
In trem’lous tones, the lays she dearly lov’d.
There, pondering once on life’s uncertain joys
Thus, to the flower whose kindly influence, sooth’d
Thy aching breast when fled the faithless train,
Th’ anticipating maid.—Thou friendly flower,I, too, may seek thy kind oblivious aid, ‘When future ills shall wound this boding breast, And wilt thou some time close on all my cares These weary eyes? Kind flower! O take this tear For her who made me love thee, whose gentle thanks In tender eloquence, makes utt’rance poor.—
Now years have roll’d away and brought thee rest
And pour’d on that devoted one, ills keen as thine!
More helpless, far, to ward their coming fate,
Trembling, she views her little thoughtless group
And suffers every pain she wept as thine.
The Exibition at Somerset House in 18121812, contained some beautiful specimens of Sculpture by Flaxman:—Their effects on one to whom every example of the art was before unknown is simply related in the form of a consequent dialogue.
Now (for I love to hear the natural
Expressions of thy mind, in all thou hast
Seen to day unskill’d) come dear Girl, say, what
Hast thou marked with more than common thought?
Oh, but I know your mood, you will not brook
To be denied, you should not smile to day
As oft you do, when I must weep to tell
The tales you ask—yet have I seen what I
Would wish to tell, would you forbear to jest.
Trust me I love thy very idleness:
I will not jest—what first observed you?
I think—the Mother, in the perilous height,
First caught each Mother’s eye—each Mother’s heart.
You know the tale.—High on a dreadful crag,
Where ne’er before had ventur’d human foot,
Upon a jutting point firmly she stood:
How brave and beautiful she look’d!—her form
A perfect union of strength and grace.
Tim’rously smiling thro’ its recent tears
Her little Cherub lay (cradle unmeet
For such a precious charge, that gory nest
Bestrew’d with mangled prey) its tender side
Wounded and bleeding, while, as bold as fell
Over her head hover’d the dubious foe,
His mighty wings casting deep shades on her
Pale brow of unutterable horror—
And as she rais’d a watchful, fearful eye,
How every heart hung on that fateful pause
So still, it fear’d to beat!—Slowly we pass’d,I2 132 I2v 132
Then, all around a thousand sympathies,
Or gently play’d, or pressed with stronger claim.
—There, beauties smil’d, attracting every look;
There, blush’d the village maid and won the heart.
There, crowds of motley mirth—and there, the still
Repose of nature in perpetual
Solitude.—There, families of love, where,
Lingered long the eye as loath to leave;
And there,—the secret pledge, sacred to one—
Caught but a glance that would not turn again.
Then, ere the quick confusion could subside,
The Sculptor’s wondrous art display’d its stores
Of colder beauty—but how chastly pure!
—Is that a mortal form? I cried. It was
A mortal maid—now rising, glorious,
In immortal being—Thine is the Kingdom!
What laid that lovely one so early low
Imports not now—no traits remain to tell.
Angels receive her from the bursting tomb
All like themselves—celestial purity!133 I3r 133
Innocency, that laid it down in peace
Awaking from a dream of Heaven.—
All else of wonder or delight absorbed,
All mortal monuments of fame, all things
Of present interests—all hopes, joys,
Fears, of earthly good or ill—how little
All—Thine is the Kingdom! O ’twas a sight
To make the mourner smile—So will she rise
The darling thou deplorest.—
――But what are these, I said,
These monstrous demons—these abhorred fiends,
That issuing from yon tomb, a hideous crew!
Coil round that lovely youth their desp’rate hold
And stay his flight, tho’ Heaven’s own powers assist!
Deliver us from Evil!—Evil! how
Fell thy agents, until then I never
Knew, or never truly weighed—how feebly
Have ye touch’d my careless heart, important
Words!—Deliver us from Evil!—Ah then
Of every friend I thought with tend’rest love!134 I3v 134
O thou supremely dear—thou loving as
Belov’d—soul dearer than my own—I thought
Of thee!—So fond that gentle form—so mild
That brow—yet execrable fiends delay
His flight.—Ah they can lurk in smiles, in looks
Of beauty’s eye beguile—(so have I heard)
Here all revealed they dare the mercy of
High Heaven, and drag with desperate force the soul
They lured before.—One eye I saw, nor could
Forbear the oft returning, oft recoiling
Glance.—Strange fascination!—vilest where
All was vile—where all detestable, most
Abhorr’d!—cunning! malign! askance it look’d—
And mock’d!—Still as they twine their horrid shapes
Deformed and loathsome, round the beauteous youth,
Spirits of mercy aid:—the angelic band
Embrace the uplifted arms—uphold the head
And o’er the supplicating face shed looks
Of heavenly love!—Undoubtful contest—since135 I4r 135
Goodness must prevail—yet once more glancing
On that eye malign, Deliver us from
Evil burst from my lips and ever as they
Rise, checks every vainer wish and little
Fear, Deliver us from evil!――
Notes to Sonnets & Metrical Tales.Note 1, page 3, line 4. Too pure to be refin’d. See Wordsworth’s Address to the Spade of his Friend. A short time since appeared in a daily Journal a criticism on The Excursion, beginning thus:—Now that Mr. W is no longer the companion of a Leech-gatherer, and the panegyrist of a Spade, directs his talents to their proper objects, &c; Impressed with the highest opinion of the merits of this performance, it surpasses the belief that this Poet can now have excelled some of his former writings. I have not yet read the Poem, but supposing a change in his opinions to have taken place, never can he, with all his present powers, impair the strength or beauty of that everlasting monument of argumentative truth—his Preface to his Lyrical Pieces. Probably this critic had merely heard that the Leechgatherer and the Spade, &c; had been the subjects of this Poet’s muse, and content with estimating great and little by that scale, which wealth and. pride have long preponderated, had never read these pieces; if he had actually perused them, pitiable are the defects of such a perception. There are, that are deaf to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely—but I have heard that these Poems are generally and duly esteemed.—In the regular reviews of some years past, I am wholly unread, simply, because the numerous productions of uncommon interest of this period, pouring their treasures at once upon my amazed and delighted mind, have almost engrossed it. 138 I5v 138 Note 2, page 21. The Maniac. In this Sonnet I was aware that I passed the legal bounds—and as Innovators are considered presumptuous in proportion as they are weak, I am very happy to hear that an eminent Poet has anticipated the irregularity. Under the wings of this mighty Eagle I hope a poor little melancholy Monotone will escape the terrible hawk-eyed Critics.—I believe that in no instance I had adopted as unprecedented measure or arrangement of the stanzas of the legitimate sonnet. Note 3, page 27, line 3. Death’s flattering mask, his painted mockery. I am not quite assured, but believe this idea is in Dr. Young’s Night Thoughts. Note 4, page 29, line 15. Th’ immense below.— Since writing the above, a fatal accident occurred on this spot. Two persons passing in a gig were precipitated a fall of more than 300 feet. Note 5, page 32, line 3. —mad Kattern hail’d us loud. My fair country friends will recollect poor Kate Dwelly, who a few years since, during the summer seasons usually rambled from the village of North Curry round the adjacent country. When enraged by the clamour or pursuit of the peasant boys, her appearance was really formidable, and has often alarmed unprotected ramblers. Her form was very tall, she wore the parish woollen dress, and small mob cap, her hair, prematurely grey, hung wildly over her eyes, and down her bare neck. Within the remembrance of many, Kate had been a comely young woman, but her person then retained not a wreck of that comeliness, nor her mind a trait of that tenderness which had destroyed her reason. 139 I6r 139 Note 6, page 46, line 10. Match nature’s Lady there. See Lyrical Ballads, p. 136. Three years she grew in sun and shower. Note 7, page 51. The tale of Ellen. Numerous and beautiful fictions of this kind having before appeared, I am induced to apologize for introducing another victim of village tenderness and credulity, in a simple tale that presumes no interest independent of its authenticity— the object, too, rendered peculiarly interesting by circumstances of near residence, and frequent observation. In some cases, to draw a line between individual and general interest must be very difficult—I fear I have erred—Alas! sometimes I fear that I have altogether erred.—Ellen usually sat at the door of her father’s neat little cottage, singing at her wheel; upon the desertion of her lover, she still pursued her usual occupations, silent but uncomplaining. A few months after this event she was seen one morning to wander from her father’s house, in the manner decribed, by an old woman of the village, who also witnessed the fatal deed, too helpless either to prevent or aid. My Father and Brother fishing some way down the river, were the first who were alarmed by her cries for assistance; they soon succeeded in recovering the body of the unfortunate young woman, but all attempts to restore animation were ineffectual. The wish to give the account of this afflicting scene in the language of the simple relator—one of the prettiest, best, kindest, little old women I ever knew—was irresistable. Highly pleasing was the contemplation of so uncommon a share of beauty, simplicity, and sensibility in old age.—Kind and amiable Chronicler of many years—the eyes thou hast often suffused, are dim when I think of thee! Note 8, page 52, line 4. There it ever will turn to adore. A Gentleman, as esteemed for his piety as admired for his talents has objected to this term—applied to less than Divinity. I admit his objection: yet, if Genius be an emanation140 I6v 140 nation of the Deity, perhaps, in the present instance, its use is justifiable; at least, it appears to me a doubtful point.— But ought not the words supplication, petition, &c; to be also restricted to addresses to the Divine Nature; as sacred to Almighty Power, as the former to the Perfection of Goodness and Wisdom? What presumptive arrogance on one hand—what unseemly degradation on the other, first introduced and still continues these preposterous associations!—In creatures of a day, whose petty distinctions are a passing pageant—what insolent assumption!—In immor tal beings designed for the perfection of all knowledge, vir tue, and happiness—what abasement! Note 9, page 73. To an Infant. To an Infant. This beloved infant died a short time after. Circumstances of a very affecting nature had rendered it an object of peculiar and tender concern.—When it was put to nurse several Ladies made small collections, and these they still continue to appropriate to the use of the remaining children. Note 11, page 102, line 8. And as my trembling fingers touch’d the spell. Superstitious relics, witchcrafts, spells, &c; have already appeared in so many notes of various writers, that I fear I am scarcely justified in adding to the number: and, as in the present instance, I can produce no positive testimony, either recorded or verbal, whether it be ancient or modern, local or general, (for, whether practised only in the dear little vale of C. or if its influence extend over the United Kingdoms I am wholly uncertain) it shrinks into comparative insignificance. Yet I think some explanation necessary, and this I can with certainty communicate:—In C. and its neighbourhood when fowls make part of a repast, it is very common for some of the company to challenge others to break with them a bone, called, I suppose from this custom, the merry-thought. The possessor of the longer piece will, it is said, in the country phrase, be married first.— lest my spell should be despised for its simplicity, I beg to 141 I7r 141 assure my readers, that seeing it once tried by two lovers, who were soon after united; the bone in question, which is forked, snapped off, in equal parts on each side the root that joins it, to the extreme astonishment, and no little amusement of all present. Alas! I once saw a trembling hand try this spell, and when similarly successful saw a blushing cheek, a sweet but fearful smile that anticipated a broken heart.—I fear I have in these pieces introduced sentiments too connected with circumstances unknown to the reader to produce a separate interest. Note 12, page 131, line 3. You know the tale. The subject of this painting is taken from a little poetic tale, I cannot recollect the Author.
- Page 41, line 5, for had, read was.
- 69, omit note (9) place it at page 73.
- 70, line 12, for lead, read leads.
- 84, line 4, for pri’zd, read prized.
- ―― line 7, for flower, read flowers.
- 98,omit note (10)
- 104, line 2, omit thou.
- 119, line 1, for on, read or.
Several improprieties in the punctuation have unwarily passed—towards these, generally, the indulgence of the reader is respectfully solicited.