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ADDRESSED (DURING ILLNESS) TO A LADY.
Dear Fanny, I mean, now I'm laid on the shelf,
To give you a sketch-ay, a sketch of myself.
'Tis a pitiful subject, I frankly confess,
And one it would puzzle a painter to dress ;
But, however, here goes, and as sure as a gun,
I'll tell all my faults like a penitent nun;
For I know, for my Fanny, before I address her,
She won't be a cynical father confessor.
Come, come, 'twill not do! put that curling
You can't, for the soul of you, learn how to frown.
Well, first I premise, it's my honest conviction,
That my breast is a chaos of all contradiction;
Religious—deistic—now loyal and warm;
Then a dagger-drawn democrat hot for reform :
This moment a fop, that, sententious as Titus ;
Democritus now, and anon Heraclitus;
Now laughing and pleased, like a child with a
rattle; Then vex'd to the soul with impertinent tattle ; Now moody and sad, now unthinking and gay, To all points of the compass I veer in a day.
I'm proud and disdainful to Fortune's gay child, But to Poverty's offspring submissive and mild;
As rude as a boor, and as rough in dispute ;
Then as for politeness-oh! dear-I'm a brute !
I show no respect where I never can feel it ;
And as for contempt, take no pains to conceal it.
And so in the suite, by these laudable ends,
I've a great many foes, and a very few friends.
And yet, my dear Fanny, there are who can feel That this proud heart of mine is not fashion’d of
steel. It can love (can it not?)—it can hate, I am sure; And it's friendly enough, though in friends it be
poor. For itself though it bleed not, for others it bleeds ; If it have not ripe virtues, I'm sure it's the seeds; And though far from faultless, or even so-so, I think it may pass as our worldly things go. Well, I've told you my frailties without any
gloss ; Then as to my virtues, I'm quite at a loss! I think I'm devout, and yet I can't say, But in process of time I may get the wrong way. I'm a general lover, if that's commendation, And yet can't withstand you know whose fasci
nation. But I find that amidst all my tricks and devices, In fishing for virtues, I'm pulling up vices; So as for the good, why, if I possess it, I am not yet learned enough to express it.
You yourself must examine the lovelier side, And after your every art you have tried,
Whatever my faults, I may venture to say,
Hypocrisy never will come in your way.
I am upright, I hope; I'm downright, I'm clear !
And I think my worst foe must allow I'm sincere ;
And if ever sincerity glow'd in my breast,
'Tis now when I swear-
LINES WRITTEN IN WILFORD CHURCHYARD,
ON RECOVERY FROM SICKNESS.
HERE would I wish to sleep. This is the spot
Which I have long mark'd out to lay my bones in.
Tired out and wearied with the riotous world,
Beneath this yew I would be sepulchred.
It is a lovely spot! The sultry sun,
From his meridian height, endeavours vainly
To pierce the shadowy foliage, while the zephyr
Comes wafting gently o'er the rippling Trent,
And plays about my wan cheek. 'Tis a nook
Most pleasant. Such a one perchance did Gray
Frequent, as with a vagrant muse he wanton'd.
Come, I will sit me down and meditate,
For I am wearied with my summer's walk; .
And here I may repose in silent ease;
And thus, perchance, when life's sad journey's o'er,
My harass'd soul, in this same spot, may find
The haven of its rest—beneath this sod
Perchance may sleep it sweetly, sound as death.
I would not have my corpse cemented down With brick and stone, defrauding the poor earthOf its predestined dues; no, I would lie (worm Beneath a little hillock, grass o'ergrown, Swath'd down with oziers, just as sleep the cotters. Yet may not undistinguish'd be my grave; But there at eve may some congenial soul Duly resort, and shed a pious tear, The good man's benison—no more I ask. And, oh! (if heavenly beings may look down From where, with cherubim, inspired they sit, Upon this little dim-discover'd spot, The earth,) then will I cast a glance below On him who thus my ashes shall embalm ; And I will weep too, and will bless the wanderer, Wishing he may not long be doom'd to pine In this low-thoughted world of darkling woe, But that, ere long, he reach his kindred skies.
Yet 'twas a silly thought, as if the body, Mouldering beneath the surface of the earth, Could taste the sweets of summer scenery, And feel the freshness of the balmy breeze! Yet nature speaks within the human bosom, And, spite of reason, bids it look beyond His narrow verge of being, and provide A decent residence for its clayey shell, Endear'd to it by time. And who would lay His body in the city burial place, To be thrown up again by some rude Sexton, And yield its narrow house another tenant, Ere the moist flesh had mingled with the dust,
Ere the tenacious hair had left the scalp,
Exposed to insult lewd, and wantonness?
No, I will lay me in the village ground;
There are the dead respected. The poor hind,
Unletter'd as he is, would scorn to invade
The silent resting place of death. I've seen
The labourer, returning from his toil,
Here stay his steps, and call his children round,
And slowly spell the rudely sculptured rhymes,
And, in his rustic manner, moralize.
I've mark'd with what a silent awe he'd spoken,
With head uncover'd, his respectful manner,
And all the honours which he paid the grave,
And thought on cities, where e'en cemeteries,
Bestrew'd with all the emblems of mortality,
Are not protected from the drunken insolence
Of wassailers profane, and wanton havoc.
Grant, Heaven, that here my pilgrimage may close!
Yet, if this be denied, where'er my bones
May lie-or in the city's crowded bounds,
Or scatter'd wide o'er the huge sweep of waters,
Or left a prey on some deserted shore
To the rapacious cormorant,—yet still,
(For why should sober reason cast away [spirit
A thought which soothes the soul ?) yet still my
Shall wing its way to these my native regions,
And hover o'er this spot. Oh, then I'll think
Of times when I was seated ’neath this yew
In solemn rumination; and will smile
With joy that I have got my long'd release.