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What is Life? A bubble floating
On that silent, rapid stream;
Few, too few, its progress noting,
Till it bursts, and ends the dream.
What is Death, asunder rending
Every tie we love so well?
But the gate to life unending,
Joy, in heaven! or woe, in hell!
Can these truths, by repetition,
Lose their magnitude or weight?
Estimate thine own condition,
Ere thou pass that fearful gate.
Hast thou heard them oft repeated,
Much may still be left to do:
Be not by profession cheated;
as if thou knewest them true.
As I walked by myself, I talked to myself,
And myself replied to me;
And the questions myself then put to myself,
With their answers, I've given to thee.
Put them home to thyself, and if unto thyself
Their responses the same should be,
Oh! look well to thyself, and beware of thyself,
Or so much the worse for thee.
THE HARE AND MANY FRIENDS.
FRIENDSHIP, like love, is but a name,
Unless to one you stint the flame.
The child whom many fathers share,
Hath seldom known a father's care.
"Tis thus in friendships; who depend
On many, rarely find a friend.
A Hare who, in a civil way,
Complied with everything, like Gay,
Was known to all the bestial train
Who haunt the wood, or graze the plain :
Her care was never to offend,
And every creature was her friend.
As forth she went at early dawn,
To taste the dew-besprinkled lawn,
Behind she hears the hunter's cries,
And from the deep-mouthed thunder flies.
She starts, she stops, she pants for breath ;
She hears the near approach of death :
She doubles, to mislead the hound,
And measures back her mazy round ;
Till, fainting in the public way,
Half dead with fear she gasping lay.
What transport in her bosom grew,
When first the Horse appeared in view!
"Let me," says she, "your back ascend,
And owe my safety to a friend.
You know my feet betray my flight;
To friendship every burden's light."
The Horse replied, "Poor honest Puss,
It grieves my heart to see you thus:
Be comforted, relief is near,
For all your friends are in the rear."
She next the stately Bull implored ;
And thus replied the mighty lord:
"Since every beast alive can tell
That I sincerely wish you well,
I may, without offence, pretend
To take the freedom of a friend.
Love calls me hence; a favourite cow
Expects me near yon barley-mow;
And when a lady's in the case,
You know all other things give place.
To leave you thus would seem unkind :
But see, the Goat is just behind."
The Goat remarked her pulse was high,
Her languid head, her heavy eye:
"My back," says she, "may do you harm;
The Sheep's at hand, and wool is warm."
The Sheep was feeble, and complained,
His sides a load of wool sustained;
Said he was slow, confessed his fears,
For hounds eat sheep as well as hares.
She now the trotting Calf addressed,
To save from death a friend distressed.
"Shall I," says he, " of tender age,
In this important case engage?
Older and abler passed you by;
How strong are those! how weak am I!
Should I presume to bear you hence,
Those friends of mine may take offence,
Excuse me, then. You know my heart;
But dearest friends, alas! must part.
How shall we all lament! Adieu;
For see, the hounds are just in view!"
Now stood Eliza on the wood-crowned height,
O'er Minden's plain, spectatress of the fight;
Sought with bold eye amid the bloody strife
Her dearer self, the partner of her life;
From hill to hill the rushing host pursued,
And viewed his banner, or believed she viewed.
Pleased with the distant roar, with quicker tread
Fast by his hand one lisping boy she led ;
And one fair girl amid the loud alarm
Slept on her kerchief, cradled by her arm;
While round her brows bright beams of Honour dart,
And Love's warm eddies circle round her heart.
-Near and more near the intrepid beauty pressed,
Saw through the driving smoke his dancing crest;
Heard the exulting shout, "They run! they run!"
"Great God!" she cried, "he's safe! the battle's won
-A ball now hisses through the airy tides,
(Some fury winged it, and some demon guides !)
Parts the fine locks her graceful head that deck,
Wounds her fair ear, and sinks into her neck;
The red stream, issuing from her azure veins,
Dyes her white veil, her ivory bosom stains.-
"Ah me!" she cried, and, sinking on the ground,
Kissed her dear babes, regardless of the wound;
"Oh, cease not yet to beat, thou vital urn!
Wait, gushing life, oh wait my love's return!”
Hoarse barks the wolf, the vulture screams from far!
The angel Pity shuns the walks of war !—
“Oh spare, ye war-hounds, spare their tender age!·
On me, on me," she cried, "exhaust your rage!"
Then with weak arms her weeping babes caressed,
And, sighing, hid them in her blood-stained vest.
From tent to tent the impatient warrior flies,
Fear in his heart and frenzy in his eyes;
Eliza's name along the camp he calls,
"Eliza!" echoes through the canvas walls;
Quick through the murmuring gloom his footsteps tread,
O'er groaning heaps, the dying and the dead,
Vault o'er the plain, and in the tangled wood,
Lo! dead Eliza weltering in her blood !—
-Soon hears his listening son the welcome sounds,
With open arms and sparkling eyes he bounds:-
Speak low," he cries, and gives his little hand, "Eliza sleeps upon the dew-cold sand;" Poor weeping babe with bloody fingers pressed, And tried with pouting lips her milkless breast; "Alas! we both with cold and hunger quakeWhy do you weep ?-Mamma will soon awake." "She'll wake no more!" the hopeless mourner cried, Upturned his eyes, and clasped his hands, and sighed ; Stretched on the ground awhile entranced he lay, And pressed warm kisses on the lifeless clay; And then upsprung with wild convulsive start, And all the father kindled in his heart:
"O heavens!" he cried, "my first rash vow forgive! These bind to earth, for these I pray to live!" Round his chill babes he wrapped his crimson vest, And clasped them sobbing to his aching breast.
FORCED from home and all its pleasures,
Afric's coast I left forlorn;
To increase a stranger's treasures,
O'er the raging billows borne.
Men from England bought and sold me,
Paid my price in paltry gold;
But, though slave they have enrolled me,
Minds are never to be sold.
Still in thought as free as ever,
What are England's rights, I ask,
Me from my delights to sever,
Me to torture, me to task?