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As one who sees a serpent in his way, Glist'ning and basking in the summer ray, Disorder'd stops, to shun the danger near, Then walks with faintness on, and looks with fear; So seem'd the sire, when, far upon the road, The shining spoil his wily partner show'd. He stopt with silence, walk'd with trembling heart; And much he wish'd, but durst not ask, to part: Murm'ring he lifts his eyes, and thinks it hard That gen'rous actions meet a base reward.
While thus they pass, the sun his glory shrouds ;
The changing skies hang out their sable clouds:
A sound in air presag'd approaching rain;
And beasts to covet, scud across the plain,
Warn'd by the signs, the wand'ring pair retreat,
To seek for shelter in a neighb'ring seat:
'Twas built with turrets, on a rising ground;
And strong and large, and unimprov'd around:
Its owner's temper, tim'rous and severe,
Unkind and griping, caus'd a desert there.
As near the miser's heavy doors they drew,
Fierce rising gusts with sudden fury blew ;
The nimble lightning, mix'd with showers, began;
And o'er their heads loud rolling thunder ran.
Here long they knock; but knock or call in vain ;
Driven by the wind, and batter'd by the rain.
At length, some pity warm'd the master's breast:
('Twas then his threshold first receiv'd a guest ;)
Slow creeking turns the door, with jealous care,
And half he welcomes in the shiv'ring pair.
One frugal faggot lights the naked walls,'
And nature's fervour through their limbs recalls;
Bread of the coarsest sort, with meagre wine,
(Each hardly granted) serv'd them both to dine;
And when the tempest first appear'd to cease,
A ready warning bid them part in peace.
With still remark, the pond'ring hermit view'd,
In one so rich, a life so poor and rude:
And why should such, (within himself he cry'd)
Lock the lost wealth, a thousand want beside?
But, what new marks of wonder soon took place,
In ev'ry settling feature of his face,
When, from his vest, the young companion bore
That cup the gen'rous landlord own'd before,
And paid profusely with the precious bowl,
The stinted kindness of this churlish soul!
But, now the clouds in airy tumults fly:
The sun, emerging, opes an azure sky;
A fresher green the smiling leaves display,
And, glitt'ring as they tremble, cheer the day:
The weather courts them from the poor retreat,
And the glad master bolts the wary gate.
While hence they walk, the pilgrim's bosom wrought With all the travail of uncertain thought. His partner's acts without their cause appear; 'Twas there a vice, and seem'd a madness here. Detesting that, and pitying this, he goes, Lost and confounded with the various shows.
Now night's dim shades again involve the sky
Again the wand'rers want a place to lie;
Again they search, and find a lodging nigh:
The soil improv'd around; the mansion neat;
And neither poorly low, nor idly great;
It seem'd to speak its master's turn of mind:
Content, and not for praise, but virtue kind.
Hither the walkers turn, with weary feet;
Then bless the mansion, and the master greet;
Their greeting fair, bestow'd with modest guise,
The courteous master hears, and thus replies:--
"Without a vain, without a grudging heart, To him who gives us all, I yield a part: From him you come, from him accept it here➡ A frank and sober, more than costly cheer." He spoke and bade the welcome tables spread ; Then talk'd of virtue till the time of bed: When the grave household round his hall repair, Warn'd by the bell, and close the hour with prayer. At length the world, renew'd by calm repose, Was strong for toil; the dappl'd morn arose; Before the pilgrims part, the younger crept Near the clos'd cradle, where an infant slept, And writh'd his neck; the landlord's little pride
O strange return!-grew black, and gasp'd, and died.
Horror of horrors! what! his only son!
How look'd our hermit when the deed was done!
Not hell, though hell's black jaws in sunder part,
And breathe blue fire, could more assault his heart.
Confus'd and struck with silence at the deed,
He flies: but trembling, fails to fly with speed.
His steps the youth pursues. The country lay
Perplex'd with roads; a servant show'd the way.
A river cross'd the path. The passage o'er
Was nice to find; the servant trod before;
Long arms of oak an open bridge supply'd,
And the deep waves beneath the bending, glide.
The youth, who seem'd to watch a time to sin,
Approach'd the careless guide, and thrust him in:
Plunging he falls; and rising, lifts his head;
Then splashing, turns, and sinks, among the dead.
Wild sparkling rage inflames the father's eyes:
He bursts the bands of fear, and madly cries,
Detested wretch-But scarce his speech began,
When the strange partner seem'd no longer man ;
His youthful face grew more serenely sweet;
His robe turn'd white, and flow'd upon his feet;
Fair rounds of radiant points invest his hair;
Celestial odours breathe through purpled air;
And wings, whose colours glitter'd on the day,
Wide at his back, their gradual plumes display.
The form etherial bursts upon his sight,
And moves in all the majesty of light.
Though loud, at first, the pilgrim's passion grew, Sudden he gaz'd, and wist not what to do; Surprise, in secret chains, his words suspends ; And, in a calm, his settled temper ends. But silence here, the beauteous angel broke: The voice of music ravish'd as he spoke.
Thy pray'r, thy praise, thy life to vice unknown, In sweet memorial rise before the throne, These charms success in our bright region find, And force an angel down to calm thy mind. For this commission'd, I forsook the sky; Nay, cease to kneel, thy fellow servant I.
Then know the truth of government divine, And let these scruples be no longer thine.
The Maker justly claims that world he made;
In this the right of Providence is laid;
Its sacred majesty, through all depends,
On using second means to work his ends.
'Tis thus, withdrawn in state from human eye,
The Pow'r exerts his attributes on high;
Your actions uses, nor controls your will,
And bids the doubting sons of men be still.
What strange events can strike with more surprise,
Than those which lately struck thy wond'ring eyes?
Yet taught by these, confess th' Almighty just,
And, where you can't unriddle, learn to trust.
The great, vain man, who far'd on costly food;
Whose life was too luxurious to be good;
Who made his ivory stands with goblets shine,
And forc'd his guests to morning draughts of wine;
Has, with the cup, the graceless custom lost,
And still he welcomes, but with less of cost.
The mean suspicious wretch, whose bolted door
Ne'er mov'd in pity to the wand'ring poor;
With him I left the cup, to teach his mind,
That Heav'n can bless, if mortals will be kind.
Conscious of wanting worth, he views the bowl,
And feels compassion touch his grateful soul.
Thus artists melt the sullen ore of lead,
With heaping coals of fire upon its head:
In the kind warmth, the metal learns to glow,
And loose from dross, the silver runs below.
Long had our pious friend in virtue trod,
But now, the child half wean'd his heart from God.
(Child of his age) for him he liv'd in pain,
And measur'd back his steps to earth again.
To what excesses had his dotage run?
But God, to save the father, took the son.
To all, but thee, in fits he seem'd to go,
And 'twas my ministry to deal the blow.
The poor fond parent, humbled in the dust,
Now owns in tears, the punishment was just.
But how had all his fortune felt a wreck,
Had that false servant sped in safety back?
This night his treasur'd heaps he meant to steal,
And what a fund of charity would fail?
Thus Heav'n instructs thy mind.
Depart in peace, resign, and sin no more.
This trial o'er,
On sounding pinions here the youth withdrew,
The sage stood wond'ring as the seraph flew.
Thus look'd Elisha, when to mount on high,
His master took the chariot of the sky:
The fi'ry pomp, ascending, left the view;
The prophet gaz'd, and wish'd to follow too.
The bending hermit here a pray'r begun :
"Lord, as in Heav'n, on earth thy will be done,”
Then, gladly turning, sought his ancient place,
And pass'd a life of piety and peace.
IX. On the Death of Mrs. Mason. TAKE, holy earth! all that my soul holds dear; Take that best gift, which Heav'n so lately gave; To Bristol's fount I bore, with trembling care,
Her faded form. She bow'd to taste the wave
And died. Does youth, does beauty read the line?
Does sympathetic fear their breasts alarm!
Speak, dead Maria! breathe a strain divine;
E'en from the grave thou shalt have pow'r to charm. Bid them be chaste, be innocent like thee;
Bid them in duty's sphere, as meekly move: And if as fair, from vanity as free,
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love; Tell them, though 'tis an awful thing to die,
('Twas e'en to thee) yet the dread path once trod, Heav'n lifts its everlasting portals high,
And bids the "pure in heart behold their God."
X.-Extract from the Temple of Fame.
AROUND these wonders as I cast a look, The trumpet sounded and the temple shook; And all the nations summon'd at the call, From diff'rent quarters fill the spacious hall. Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard ; In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear'd:
Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend,
And all degrees before the goddess bend;
The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage,
And boasting youth, and narrative old age.
First, at the shrine, the learned world appear,
And to the goddess thus prefer their pray'r :
"Long have we sought t' instruct and please mankind,
With studies pale, and midnight vigils blind :
But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none,
We here appeal to thy superior throne;
On wit and learning the just prize bestow,
For fame is all we must expect below."
The goddess heard, and bid the muses raise
The golden trumpet of eternal praise.
From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound,
And fill the circuit of the world around:
Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud,
The notes at first were rather sweet than loud:
By just degrees they ev'ry moment rise,
Spread round the earth, and gain upon the skies.
Next these, the good and just, an awful train,
Thus on their knees, address the sacred fane :-
"Since living virtue is with envy curs'd,
And the best men are treated as the worst,
Do thou, just goddess, call our merits forth,
And give each deed th' exact intrinsic worth."
"Not with bare justice shall your acts be crown'd,
(Said Fame) but high above desert renown'd,
Let fuller notes th' applauding world amaze,
And the loud clarion labour in your praise."
A troop came next, who crowns and armour, wore,
And proud defiance in their looks they bore.
"For thee (they cry'd) amidst alarms and strife,
We sail'd in tempests down the stream of life:
For thee, whole nations fill'd with fire and blood,
And swam to empire through the purple flood.
Those ills we dar'd thy inspiration own;
What virtues seem'd was done for thee alone."
"Ambitious fools! (the queen reply'd and frown'd)
Be all your deeds in dark oblivion drown'd;
There sleep forgot, with mighty tyrants gone,
Your statues moulder'd, and your names unknown.”
A sudden cloud straight snatch'd them from my sight,
And each majestic phantom sunk in night.
Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen;
Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien :
"Great idol of mankind, we never claim
The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame ;
But, safe in deserts from th' applause of men,
Would die unheard of as we liv'd unseen.
'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight,
Those acts of goodness which themselves requite.