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Bread of the coarsest sort, with meager wine,
Each hardly granted, served 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 pondering Hermit view'd,
In one so rich, a life so poor and rude;
And why should such, within himself he cried,
Lock the lost wealth a thousand want beside?
But what new marks of wonder soon took place,
In every settling feature of his face,
When from his vest, the young companion bore
That cup, the generous landlord own'd before,
And paid profusely, with the precious bowl,
The stinted kindness of this churlish soul!
But now the clouds in airy tumult fly,
The sun emerging opes an azure sky;
A fresher green the smelling leaves display, .
And, glittering 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 wanderers want a place to lie;
Again they search, and find a lodging nigh.
The soil improved 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, for him accept it here,
A frank and sober, more than costly cheer.
He spoke, and bid the welcome table spread;
Then talk'd of virtue till the time of bed,
When the grave household round his hall repair,
Warn'd by a bell, and close the hours with prayer.
At length the world, renew'd by calm repose, Was strong for toil; the dappled morn arose; Before the pilgrims part, the younger crept Near the closed cradle where an infant slept,
And writhed his neck: the landlord's little pride,
O strange return! grew black, and gasp'd, and died.
Horrour of horrours! what, his only son!
How look'd our Hermit when the iact was done!
Not hell, though hell's black jaws in sunder part,
And breathe blue fire, could more assault his heart.
Confused, 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 oaks an open bridge supplied,
And deep the 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 flashing 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;
Published January i, 1804, by William Bulmer, at the
Shahspeare Printing Office, Cleveland Row.