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O Reader 1 had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader' you would find
A tale in every thing.
What more I have to say is short,
I hope you'll kindly take it :
It is no tale; but should you think,
Perhaps a tale you'll make it.

One summer-day I chanced to see
This Old Man doing all he could
About the root of an old tree,
A stump of rotten wood.
The mattock totter'd in his hand;
So vain was his endeavour
That at the root of the old tree
He might have worked for ever.

“You're overtasked, good Simon Lee,
Give me your tool” to him I said ;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffer'd aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
The tangled root I sever'd,
At which the poor Old Man so long
And vainly had endeavoured.

The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seemed to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
—I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning.
Alas! the gratitude of men

Has oftner left me mourning.


Written in April, 1798.

No cloud, no relique of the sunken day
Distinguishes the West, no long thin slip
Of sullen Light, no obscure trembling hues.
Come, we will rest on this old mossy Bridge ;
You see the glimmer of the stream beneath,
But hear no murmuring : it flows silently
O'er its soft bed of verdure. All is still,
A balmy night ! and tho' the stars be dim,
Yet let us think upon the vernal showers
That gladden the green earth, and we shall find.

A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.

And hark the Nightingale begins its song,
“Most musical, most melancholy” Bird!
A melancholy Bird O idle thought !
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
—But some night-wandering Man, whose heartwas pierc'd
With the remembrance of a grievous wrong,
Or slow distemper, or neglected love,
(And so, poor wretch fill'd all things with himself,
And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale
Of his own sorrows) he and such as he
First named these notes a melancholy strain:
And many a poet echoes the conceit ;

Poet, who hath been building up the rhyme

* “Most musical, most melancholy.” This passage in Milton possesses an excellence far superior to that of mere description: it is spoken in the character of the melancholy Man, and has therefore a dramatic propriety. The Author makes thisremark, to rescue himself from the charge of having alluded with levity to a line in Milton ; a charge than which none could be more

painful to him, except perhaps that of having ridiculed his Bible.

When he had better far have stretched his limbs Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell By sun or moon-light, to the influxes Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements Surrendering his whole spirit, of his song And of his fame forgetful so his fame Should share in nature's immortality, A venerable thing ! and so his song Should make all nature lovelier, and itself Belov'd, like nature —But 'twill not be so; And youths and maidens most poetical Who lose the deep'ning twilights of the spring In ball-rooms and hot theatres, they still Full of meek sympathy must heave their sighs O'er Philomela's pity-pleading strains. My Friend, and my Friend's Sister' we have learnt A different lore : we may not thus profane Nature's sweet voices always full of love And joyance " 'Tis the merry Nightingale

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