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THE FOUNDER OF THE ALMSHOUSE
[From The Borough, Letter xiii.]
Leave now our streets, and in yon plain behold
Those pleasant seats for the reduced and old ;
A merchant's gift, whose wife and children died ;
When he to saving all his powers applied ;
He wore his coat till bare was every thread,
And with the meanest fare his body fed.
He had a female cousin, who with care
Walked in his steps, and learned of him to spare ;
With emulation and success they strove,
Improving still, still seeking to improve,
As if that useful knowledge they would gain-
How little food would human life sustain :
No pauper came their table's crumbs to crave;
Scraping they lived, but not a scrap they gave:
When beggars saw the frugal merchant pass,
It moved their pity and they said 'Alas !
Hard is thy fate, my brother, and they felt
A beggar's pride as they that pity dealt.
The dogs, who learn of man to scorn the poor,
Barked him away from every decent door ;
While they who saw him bare but thought him rich,
To show respect or scorn they knew not which.
But while our merchant seemed so base and mean,
He had his wanderings, sometimes not unseen ;
To scenes of various woe he nightly went,
And serious sums in healing misery spent ;
Oft has he cheered the wretched at a rate
For which he daily might have dined on plate;
He has been seen-his hair all silver white,
Shaking and shivering—as he stole by night,
To feed unenvied on his still delight.
A twofold taste he had ; to give and spare,
Both were his duties, and had equal care.
It was his joy to sit at home and fast,
Then send a widow and her boys repast :
Tears in his eyes would spite of him appear,
But he from other eyes has kept the tear :
All in a wintry night from far he came
To soothe the sorrows of a suffering dame,
Whose husband robb’d him, and to whom he meant
A lingering but reforming punishment:
Home then he walked, and found his anger rise
When fire and rushlight met his troubled eyes ;
But these extinguished, and his prayer addressed
To Heaven in hope, he calmly sank to rest.
A STORM ON THE EAST COAST.
[From The Borough, Letter i.]
View now the winter storm ! above, one cloud,
Black and unbroken, all the skies o'ershroud :
The unwieldy porpoise through the day before
Had rolled in view of boding men on shore ;
And sometimes hid and sometimes showed his form,
Dark as the cloud and furious as the storm.
All where the eye delights yet dreads to roam,
The breaking billows cast the flying foam
Upon the billows rising-all the deep
Is restless change ; the waves so swelled and steep,
Breaking and sinking, and the sunken swells,
Nor one, one moment, in its station dwells :
But nearer land you may the billows trace,
As if contending in their watery chase ;
May watch the mightiest till the shoal they reach,
Then break and hurry to their utmost stretch ;
Curled as they come, they strike with furious force,
And then, reflowing, take their grating course,
Raking the rounded flints, which ages past
Rolled by their rage, and shall to ages last.
Far off the petrel in the troubled way
Swims with her brood, or flutters in the spray;
She rises often, often drops again,
And sports at ease on the tempestuous main.
High o'er the restless deep, above the reach
Of gunners' hope, vast flocks of wild-duck stretch ;
Far as the eye can glance on either side,
In a broad space and level line they glide ;
All in their wedge-like figures from the north
Day after day, flight after flight, go forth.
In-shore their passage tribes of sea-gulls urge,
And drop for prey within the sweeping surge ;
Oft in the rough opposing blast they fly
Far back, then turn and all their force apply,
While to the storm they give their weak complaining cry;
Or clap the sleek white pinion on the breast,
And in the restless ocean dip for rest.
Darkness begins to reign ; the louder wind
Appals the weak, and awes the firmer mind;
But frights not him whom evening and the spray
In part conceal-yon prowler on his way;
Lo, he has something seen; he runs apace,
As if he feard companion in the chase ;
He sees his prize, and now he turns again,
Slowly and sorrowing—'Was your search in vain ?'
Gruffly he answers, “'Tis a sorry sight!
A seaman's body: there'll be more to-night!'
[From Tales of the Hall.] [The following is an extract from one of the Tales of the Hall, entitled *Delay has Danger.' A young man, who is happily engaged to be married, finds himself, during a visit in a friend's house, partly through his own weakness and folly, partly through the cunning designs of others, compromised in his relations with a girl of inferior station and insignificant attractions. The dialogue that ensues is between the unwilling lover and the girl's adopted parents, who are upper servants in his host's house, and who, having brought about the entanglement, now affect to encourage the lover in his timid advances ]
'An orphan maid-your patience ! you shall have
Your time to speak; I now attention crave-
Fanny, dear girl ! has in my spouse and me
Friends of a kind we wish our friends to be,
None of the poorest-nay, sir, no reply,
You shall not need—and we are born to die;
And one yet crawls on earth, of whom, I say,
That what he has he cannot take away:
Her mother's father, one who has a store
Of this world's goods and always looks for more ;
But, next his money, loves the girl at heart,
And she will have it when they come to part.'
'Sir,' said the youth, his terrors all awake,
'Hear me, I pray, I beg-for mercy's sake!
Sir, were the secrets of my soul confessed,
Would you admit the truths that I protest
Are such--your pardon-
"Pardon ! good my friend,
I not alone will pardon, I commend ;
Think you that I have no remembrance left
Of youthful love and Cupid's cunning theft?
How nymphs will listen when their swains persuade,
How hearts are gained and how exchange is made ?
Come, sir, your hand-
' In mercy hear me now !!
'I cannot hear you, time will not allow :
You know my station, what on me depends,
For ever needed—but we part as friends ;
And here comes one who will the whole explain,
My better self—and we shall meet again : '
'Sir, I entreat-
'Then be entreaty made
To her, a woman, one you may persuade;
A little teasing, but she will comply,
And loves her niece too fondly to deny.'
'0! he is mad, and miserable I!'
Exclaimed the youth ; 'but let me now collect
My scatter'd thoughts; I something must effect.'
Hurrying she came-Now what has he confessed,
Ere I could come to set your heart at rest?
What! he has grieved you! Yet he too approves
The thing! but man will tease you, if he loves.
But now for business: tell me, did you think
That we should always at your meetings wink?
Think you, you walked unseen ? There are who bring
To me all secrets-0 you wicked thing!
Poor Fanny! now I think I see her blush,
All red and rosy, when I beat the bush ;
And “Hide your secret,"—said I, “ if
So out it came like an affrightened hare.
“Miss !” said I, gravely : and the trembling maid
Pleased me at heart to see her so afraid ;
And then she wept,-now, do remember this,
Never to chide her when she does amiss ;
For she is tender as the callow bird,
And cannot bear to have her temper stirred ;-
“Fanny,” I said, then whispered her the name,
And caused such looks-yes, yours are just the same ;
But hear my story-When your love was known
For this our child-she is in fact our own
Then, first debating, we agreed at last
To seek my Lord and tell him what had passed.'
"To tell the Earl ?'
'Yes truly, and why not?
And then together we contrived our plot.'
Nay be not so surprised, -
In all the matter we were well advised ;
We saw my Lord, and Lady Jane was there,
And said to Johnson—'Johnson, take a chair.'
True we are servants in a certain way,
But in the higher places so are they ;
We are obeyed in ours and they in theirs obey-
So Johnson bowed, for that was right and fit,
And had no scruple with the Earl to sit-
Why look you so impatient while I tell
What they debated? You must like it well.'
That evening all in fond discourse was spent When the sad lover to his chamber went,