Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

That is not changed, my friend! you'll always find The same old bounty and old welcome there.

The GRANDMOTHER'S TALE. *

JANE. Hanny! I'm tired of playing. We'll draw round The fire, and Grandmamma perhaps will tell us One of her stories. in ARRY. Aye—dear Grandmamma! A pretty story! something dismal now; A bloody murder. J.A.N.E. Or about a ghost. GaAN to Moth ER. Nay, may, I should but frighten ye. You know The other night when I was telling ve | About the light in the churchyard, how you trembled Because the screech-owl hooted at the window, And would not go to bed. J.A.N.E. why, Grandmamma, You said yourself you did not like to hear him. Pray now!—we won't be frightened. GRAND MOTHER. Well, well, children! But you've heard all my stories—Let me see,_ Did I never tell you how the smuggler murder'd The woman down at Pill? HARRY. No-never! never! Gra AN in Moth ER. Not how he cut her head off in the stable? HAR to Y. Oh—now !—do tell us that! Grand MoTrieft. You must have heard Your mother, children' often tell of her. She used to weed in the garden here, and worm Your uncle's dogs,' and serve the house with coal; And glad enough she was in winter time To drive her asses here! it was cold work To follow the slow beasts through sleet and snow; And here she found a comfortable meal And a brave fire to thaw her, for poor Moll Was always welcome. HARRY. Oh!'t was blear-eyed Moll The collier woman,—a great ugly woman; I've heard of her. Graa N DMother. Ugly enough, poor soul! At ten yards distance you could hardly tell If it were man or woman, for her voice Was rough as our old mastiff's, and she wore A man's old coat and hat:—and then her face! There was a merry story told of her, How when the press-gang came to take her husband As they were both in bed, she heard them coming, Drest John up in her night-cap, and herself Put on his clothes and went before the captain.

* I know not whether this cruel and stupid custom is common in other parts of England. It is supposed to prevent the dogs from doing any mischief should they afterwards become mad. .

JANr. And so they prest a woman! Ghand Mother. T was a trick She dearly loved to tell; and all the country Soon knew the jest, for she was used to travel For miles around. All weathers and all hours She cross'd the hill, as hardy as her beasts, Bearing the wind and rain and drifting snow. And if she did not reach her home at night, She laid her down in the stable with her asses, And slept as sound as they did. HARRY. With her asses! GRANDMoth ea. Yes; and she loved her beasts. For though, poor wretch, She was a terrible reprobate, and swore Like any trooper, she was always good To the dumb creatures; never loaded them Beyond their strength; and rather, I believe, Would stint herself than let the poor beasts want, Because she said they could not ask for food. I never saw her stick fall heavier on them Than just with its own weight. She little thought This tender-heartedness would cause her death . There was a fellow who had oftentimes, As if he took delight in cruelty, Ill-used her beasts. He was a man who lived By smuggling, and,-for she had often met him Crossing the down at night, she threaten d him, If ever he abused them more, to inform Of his unlawful ways. Well—so it was— T was what they both were born to he provoked her: She laid an information; and one morning They found her in the stable, her throat cut From ear to ear, till the head only hung Just by a bit of skin. "JAN e. Oh dear! oh dear! n Anti-Y. I hope they hung the man! GaANDMother. They took him up; There was no proof, no man had seen the deed, And he was set at liberty. But God, whose eye beholdeth all things, he had seen The murder; and the murderer knew that God Was witness to his crime, lle fled the place,— But nowhere could he fly the avenging hand Of Heaven, but nowhere could the murderer rest; A guilty conscience haunted him; by day, By night, in company, in solitude, Restless and wretched, did he bear upon him The weight of blood! Her cries were in his ears; Her stilled groans, as when he knelt upon her, Always he heard; always he saw her stand Before his eyes; even in the dead of night Distinctly seen as though in the broad sun, She stood beside the murderer's bed, and yawn'd Her ghastly wound; till life itself became A punishment at last he could not bear, And he confess'd it all, and gave himself To death; so terrible, he said, it was To have a guilty conscience! in ARRY. Was he hung, theu!

Grand Moth ra. Hung and anatomized. Poor wretched man, Your uncles went to see him on his trial; He was so pale, so thin, so hollow-eyed, And such a horror in his meagre face, They said he look'd like one who never slept. He beggd the prayers of all who saw his end, And met his death with fears that well might warn From guilt, though not without a hope in Christ.

HANNAh.

Passing across a green and lonely lane
A funeral met our view. It was not here
A sight of every day, as in the streets
Of some great city, and we stopt and ask'd
Whom they were bearing to the grave. A girl,
They answerd, of the village, who had pined
Through the long course of eighteen painful months
with such slow wasting, that the hour of death
Came welcome to her. We pursued our way
To the house of mirth, and with that idle talk
Which passes o'er the mind and is forgot,
We wore away the time. But it was eve
When homewardly I went, and in the air
was that cool freshness, that discolouring shade
Which makes the eye turn inward: hearing then
Over the vale the heavy toll of death
Sound slow, it made me think upon the dead;
I question'd more, and learnt her mournful tale.
She bore unhusbanded a mother's pains,
And he who should have cherish'd her, far off
Sail'd on the seas. Left thus, a wretched one,
Scorn made a mock of her, and evil tongues
were busy with her name. She had to bear
The sharper sorrow of neglect from him
Whom she had loved so dearly. Once he wrote,
But only once that drop of comfort came
To mingle with her cup of wretchedness;
And when his parents had some tidings from him,
There was no mention of poor Hannah there,
Or 't was the cold inquiry, more unkind
Than silence. So she pined and pined away,
And for herself and baby toil'd and toil'd,
Nor did she, even on her death-bed, rest
From labour, knitting there with lifted arms,
Till she sunk with very weakness. Her old mother
Omitted no kind office, working for her,
Albeit her hardest labour barely earn'd
Enough to keep life struggling, and prolong
The pains of grief and sickness. Thus she lay
On the sick bed of poverty, worn out
With her long suffering and those painful thoughts
Which at her heart were rankling, and so weak,
That she could make no effort to express
Affection for her infant; and the child,
Whose lisping love perhaps had solaced her,
Shunn'd Her as one indifferent. But she too
Had grown indifferent to all things of earth,
Finding her only comfort in the thought
Of that cold bed wherein the wretched rest.
There had she now, in that last home, been laid,
And all was over now, sickness and grief,
tler shame, her suffering, and her penitence:
Their work was done. The school-boys as they sport
In the churchyard, for awhile might turn away

From the fresh grave till grass should cover it;
Nature would do that office soon ; and none
Who trod upon the senseless turf would think
Of what a world of woes lay buried there!

1797.

THE SAILOR'S MOTHER.

woxi.A.N. Sin, for the love of God, some small relief To a poor woman! travellert. Whither are you bound? 'T is a late hour to travel o'er these downs, No house for miles around us, and the way Dreary and wild. The evening wind already Makes one's teeth chatter; and the very Sun, Setting so pale behind those thin white clouds, Looks cold. T will be a bitter night ! Wom AN. Aye, Sir, 'T is cutting keen! I smart at every breath; Heaven knows how I shall reach my journey's end, For the way is long before me, and my feet, God help me! sore with travelling. I would gladly, If it pleased God, at once lie down and die. tn Avellen. Nay, nay, cheer up' a little food and rest Will comfort you; and then your journey's end Will make amends for all. You shake your head, And weep. Is it some evil business then That leads you from your home? woman. Sir, I am going To see my son at Plymouth, sadly hurt In the late action, and in the hospital Dying, I fear me, now. raav Eiler. Perhaps your fears \lake evil worse. Even if a limb be lost, I here may be still enough for comfort left; An arm or leg shot off, there's yet the heart To keep life warm, and he may live to talk with pleasure of the glorious fight that maim'd him, Proud of his loss. Old England's gratitude Makes the main'd Sailor happy. wo-MAN. "T is not that, An arm or leg.—I could have borne with that. It was no ball, Sir, but some cursed thing which bursts" and burns that hurt him. Something, Sir, They do not use on board our English slips, It is so wicked tri Avrillett. Rascals a mean art of cruel cowardice, yet all in vain! won A. N. Yes, Sir; and they should show no mercy to them For making use of such unchristian arms. the stink-pots used on board the French ships. ment between the Mar, and L'Hercule, some of our sailors were shockingly mangled by them : one in particular. as described in the Eclogue, loat both his eyes. It would be right and humane to enploy means of destruction, could they le discovered, powerful enough to destroy fleets and armies; out to use any thing that only inflicts additional torture upon the sufferers in war, is cruel and wicked.

In the engage

I had a letter from the hospital,
He got some friend to write it, and he tells me
That my poor boy has lost his precious eyes,
Burnt out. Alas! that I should ever live
To see this wretched day!—they tell me, Sir,
There is no cure for wounds like his. Indeed
'T is a hard journey that I go upon
To such a dismal ends
tit Avel, Lea.
He yet may live.
But if the worst should chance, why you must bear
The will of Heaven with patience. Were it not
Some comfort to reflect your son has fall'm
Fighting his country's cause! and for yourself
You will not in unpitied poverty
Be left to mourn his loss. Your grateful country,
Amid the triumph of her victory,
Remembers those who paid its price of blood,
And with a noble charity relieves
The widow and the orphan.
woxi.A.N.
God reward them."
God bless them! it will help me in my age,
But, Sir! it will not pay me for my child
TRAVELLEa.
Was he your only child?
Woman.
My only one,
The stay and comfort of my widowhood,
A dear good boy!—when first he went to sea
I felt what it would come to, something told me
I should be childless soon. But tell me, Sir,
If it be true that for a hurt like his
There is no cure? Please God to spare his life
Though he be blind, yet I should be so thankful!
I can remember there was a blind man
Lived in our village, one from his youth up
Quite dark, and yet he was a merry man,
And he had none to tend on him so well
As I would tend my boy!
th. A Whi, Left.
Of this be sure,
His hurts are look'd to well, and the best help
The land affords, as rightly is his due,
Ever at hand. How happen'd it he left you?
Was a seafaring life his early choice?
wom AN.
No, Sir! poor fellow, he was wise enough
To be content at home, and 't was a home
As comfortable, Sir! even though I say it,
As any in the country. He was left
A little boy when his poor father died,
Just old enough to totter by himself,
And call his mother's name. We two were all,
And as we were not left quite destitute,
We bore up well. In the summer time I work'd
Sometimes a-field. Then I was famed for knitting,
And in long winter nights my spinning-wheel
Seldom stood still. We had kind neighbours too,
And never felt distress. So he grew up
A comely lad, and wonderous well disposed;
I taught him well; there was not in the parish
A child who said his prayers more regular,
Or answer'd readier through his Catechism.
If I had forescen this! but it is a blessing
We dont t know what we're born to

[ocr errors]

rea wellth. But how came it He chose to be a Sailor? woman. You shall hear, Sir; As he grew up he used to watch the birds

In the corn, child's work you know, and easily done.

'T is an idle sort of task; so he built up A little hut of wicker-work and clay

| Under the hedge, to shelter him in rain :

And then he took, for very idleness,
To making traps to catch the plunderers;
All sorts of cunning traps that boys can make, -
Propping a stone to fall and shut them in,
Or crush them with its weight, or else a springe
He made them cleverly,–
And I, poor foolish woman I was pleased
To see the boy so handy. You may guess
What follow'd, Sir, from this unlucky skill.
He did what he should not when he was older :
I warn'd him oft enough; but he was caught
In wiring hares at last, and had his choice,
The prison or the ship.
Traveli. Era.

The choice at least
Was kindly left him, and for broken laws
This was, methinks, no heavy punishment.

Wom An.
So I was told, Sir. And I tric d to think so,
But 't was a sad blow to me! I was used
To sleep at nights as sweetly as a child,—
Now if the wind blew rough, it made me start,
And think of my poor boy tossing about
Upon the roaring seas. And then I seem d
To feel that it was hard to take him from me
For such a little fault. But he was wrong,
Oh very wrong, a murrain on his traps'
See what they've brought him to:

to Aveller.
Well! well! take comfort

He will be taken care of if he lives;
And should you lose your child, this is a country
Where the brave Sailor never leaves a parent
To weep for him in want.

woman.

Sir, I shall want

No succour long. In the common course of years
I soon must be at rest, and "t is a comfort,
When grief is hard upon me, to reflect
It only leads me to that rest the sooner.

THE WITCH.

nath Aniel.

FAthen here, father! I have found a horse-shoe
Faith it was just in time; for t'other night
I laid two straws across at Margery's door,
And ever since I fear'd that she might do me |
A mischief for t. There was the Miller's boy
Who set his dog at that black cat of hers, -
I met him upon crutches, and he told me
'T was all her evil eye.

FAThee.

'T is rare good luck! I would have gladly given a crown for one

If 't would have done as well. But where didst find it?
NAthAnibal.
Down on the common; I was going a-field,
And neighbour Saunders pass'd me on his mare;
He had hardly said “Good day,” before I saw
The shoe drop off. T was just upon my tongue
To call him back;-it makes no difference, does it,
Because I know whose 't was?
FAttle R.
Why no, it can't;
The shoe's the same, you know, and you did find it.
NATu Aniel.
That mare of his has got a plaguy road
To travel, father;—and if he should lame her,-
For she is but tender-footed—
FAthen.
Aye, indeed!—
I should not like to see her limping back,
Poor beast!—But charity begins at home,
And, Nat, there's our own horse in such a way
This morning !
Nath Aniel.
Why he han't been rid again!
Last night I hung a pebble by the manger
with a hole through, and every body says
That "t is a special charm against the hags.
Father.
It could not be a proper natural hole then,
Or’t was not a right pebble;—for I found him
Smoking with sweat, quaking in every limb,
And panting so! Lord knows where he had been
When we were all asleep, through bush and brake,
Up-hill and down-hill all alike, full stretch
At such a deadly rate!—
nath A Niel.
By land and water,
Over the sea, perhaps!—I have heard tell
T is many thousand miles off at the end
Of the world, where witches go to meet the Devil.
They used to ride on broomsticks, and to smear
Some ointment over them, and then away
Out of the window! but "t is worse than all
To worry the poor beasts so. Shame upon it
That in a Christian country they should let
Such creatures live!
FAther.
And when there's such plain proof.
I did but threaten her because she robb'd
Our hedge, and the next night there came a wind
That made me shake to hear it in my bed!
Ilow came it that that storm unroof'd my barn,
And only mine in the parish —Look at her,
And that 's enough; she has it in her face!—
A pair of large dead eyes, sunk in her head,
Just like a corpse, and pursed with wrinkles round;
A nose and chin that scarce leave room between
For her lean fingers to squeeze in the snuff;
And when she speaks! I'd sooner hear a raven
Croak at my door!—She sits there, nose and knees
Smoke-dried and shrivell'd o'er a starved fire,
With that black cat beside her, whose great eyes
Shine like old Beelzebuk's; and to be sure
It must be one of his imps!—Aye, nail it hard.
in Ath A Nir L.
I wish old Margery heard the hammer go!
Sile 'd curse the music

ratheta. Here's the Curate coming, He ought to rid the parish of such vermin! In the old times they used to hunt them out, And hang them without mercy; but, Lord bless us! The world is grown so wicked 1 cua ATE. Good day, Farmer! Nathaniel, what art nailing to the threshold? nathaniel. A horse-shoe, Sir; t is good to keep off witchcraft, And we're afraid of Margery. CURATE. Poor old woman What can you fear from her? rathert. What can we fear ! Who lamed the Miller's boy who raised the wind That blew my old barn's roof down? who do ye think Rides my poor horse a nights? who mocks the hounds? But let me catch her at that trick again, And I've a silver bullet ready for her, One that shall lame her, double how she will. Nath Anne L. What makes her sit there moping by herself, With no soul near her but that great black cat? Aud do but look at her! cur Ate. Poor wretch; half blind And crooked with her years, without a child Or friend in her old age, "t is hard indeed To have her very miseries made her crimes! I met her but last week in that hard frost which made my young limbs ache, and when I ask'd what brought her out in the snow, the poor old woman Told me that she was forced to crawl abroad And pick the hedges, just to keep herself From perishing with cold,—because no neighbour Ilad pity on her age; and then she cried, And said the children pelted her with snow-balls, And wish'd that she were dead. FAthen. I wish she was! She has plagued the parish long enough cu ft Ate. Shame, Farmer! Is that the charity your Bible teaches? FA rhett. My Bible does not teach me to love witches. I know what's charity; who pays his tithes And poor-rates readier? cutt Ate. Who can better do it? You've been a prudent and industrious man, And God has blest your labour. FAthen. why, thank God, Sir, I've had no reason to complain of fortune. curate. Complain! why you are wealthy! Look up to you.

All the parish

FAT II era. Perhaps, Sir, I could tell Guinea for guinea with the warmest of them. cunate. You can afford a little to the poor;

And then, what's better still, you have the heart To give from your abundance. Father. God forbid I should want charity! curtate. --- Oh! t is a comfort To think at last of riches well employd! I have been o death-bed, and know the worth Of a good deed at that most awful hour When riches profit not. Farmer, I'm going To visit Margery. She is sick, I hear;-Old, poor, and sick" a miserable lot, And death will be a blessing. You might send her Some little matter, something comfortable, That she may go down easier to the grave, And bless you when she dies. FATH E R. What! is she going? Well God forgive her then, if she has dealt In the black art! I'll tell my dame of it, And she shall send her something. cuit Ate. So I'll say; And take my thanks for hers. [Goes.] FATH eit. That's a good man That Curate, Nat, of ours, to go and visit The poor in sickness; but he dont believe In witchcraft, and that is not like a Christian. NATH AN i e L. And so old Margery's dying: FAthen. But you know She may recover; so drive to other nail in.

THE RUINED COTTAGE.

AY, Charles! I knew that this would fix thine eye!—
This woodbine wreathing round the broken porch,
Its leaves just withering, yet one autumn flower
Still fresh and fragrant; and yon holly-hock
That through the creeping weeds and nettles tall
Peers taller, lifting, column-like, a stem
Bright with the broad rose-blossoms. I have seen
Many an old convent reverend in decay,
And many a time have trod the castle courts
And grass-green halls, yet never did they strike
Home to the heart such melancholy thoughts
As this poor cottage. Look! its little hatch
Fleeced with that grey and wintry moss; the roof
Part moulder'd in, the rest o'ergrown with weeds,
House-leek, and long thin grass, and greener moss;
So Nature steals on all the works of man,
Sure conqueror she, reclaiming to herself
Ilis perishable piles.

I led thee here,
Charles, not without design; for this hath been
My favourite walk even since I was a boy;
And I remember, Charles, this ruin here,
The neatest comfortable dwelling-place!
That when s read in those dear books which first
Woke in my heart the love of Poesy,
How with the villagers Erminia dwelt,

And Calidore for a fair shepherdess
Forgot his quest to learn the shepherd's lore,
My fancy drew from this the little hut
Where that poor princess wept her hopeless love,
Or where the gentle Calidore at eve
Led Pastorella home. There was not then
A weed where all these nettles overtop
The garden-wall; but sweet-briar, scenting sweet
The morning air; rosemary and marjoram,
All wholesome herbs; and then, that woodbine wreathed
So lavishly around the pillard porch
Its fragrant flowers, that when I past this way,
After a truant absence hastening home,
I could not choose but pass with slacken'd speed
By that delightful fragrance. Sadly changed
Is this poor cottage! and its dwellers, Charles'-
Theirs is a simple melancholy tale, –
There 's scarce a village but can fellow it:
And yet, methinks, it will not weary thee, -
And should not be untold.
A widow here o

Dwelt with an orphan grandchild: just removed
Above the reach of pinching poverty,
She lived on some small pittance which sufficed,
In better times, the needful calls of life,
Not without comfort. I remember her
Sitting at evening in that open door-way,
And spinning in the sun. Methinks I see her -
Raising her eyes and dark-rimm'd spectacles
To see the passer-by, yet ceasing not
To twirl her lengthening thread: or in the garden,
On some dry summer evening, walking round
To view her slowers, and pointing as she lean'd
Upon the ivory handle of her stick,
To some carnation whose o'erheavy head -
Needed support; while with the watering-pot
Joanna follow'd, and refresh d and trimm'd
The drooping plant; Joanna, her dear child,
As lovely and as happy then as youth
And innocence could make her.

Charles, it seems
As though I were a boy again, and all
The mediate years with their vicissitudes
A half-forgotten dream. I see the Maid
So comely in her Sunday dress! her hair,
tler bright brown hair, wreathed in contracting curls,
And then her cheek! it was a red and white
That made the delicate hues of art look loathsonne.
The countrymen who on their way to church
Were leaning o'er the bridge, loitering to hear
The bell's last summons, and in idleness
Watching the stream below, would all look up
When she pass d by. And her old Mother, Charles.
When I have heard some erring infide!
Speak of our faith as of a gloomy creed,
Inspiring superstitious wretchedness,
Her figure has recurr'd; for she did love
The Sabbath-day; and many a time hath cross'd
These fields in rain and through the winter snows,
When I, a graceless boy, wishing myself
By the fire-side, have wonder'd why she came
Who might have sate at home.

One only care
Hung on her aged spirit. For herself,
Her path was plain before her, and the close
Of her long journey near. But then her child

« ZurückWeiter »