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Death call'd aside the jocund groom .. . With him into another room And looking grave— You must,” says he, " Quit your sweet bride, and come with me." “ With you! and quit my Susan's side! .. With you!" the hapless husband cried ; “ Young as I am, 'tis monstrous hard ! i Beside, in truth, I'm not prepar'd: My thoughts on other matters go ; This is my wedding-day you know." What more he urg'd, I have not heard,
His reasons could not well be stronger, So death the poor delinquent spar'd,
And left to live a little longer. Yet calling up a serious look, His hour-glass trembled while he spoke “ Neighbour," he said “ Farewell. No more Shall Death disturb your mirthful hour ; And farther, to avoid all blame Of cruelty upon my name, To give you time for preparation, - And fit you for your future station, Three several Warnings you shall have, Before you're summond to the grave. Willing for once I'll quit my prey,
. And grant a kind reprieve ; . In hopes you'll have no more to say ; But, when I call again this way,
Well pleas'd the world will leave."
To these conditions both consented,
And parted perfectly contented.
What next the hero of our tale befell,
How long he liv'd, how wise, how well,
How roundly he pursu'd his course,
And smok'd his pipe, and strok'd his horse,
The willing muse shall tell :
- He chaffer'd then, he bought, he sold,
Nor once perceiv'd his growing old,
Nor thought of Death as near :
His friends not false, his wife no shrew,
Many his gains, his children few,
He pass'd his hours in peace.
But while he view'd his wealth increase,
While thus along Life's dusty road
The beaten track content he trod,
Old Time, whose haste no mortal spares,".
Uncall’d, unheeded, unawares,
Brought on his eightieth year. .
And now, one night, in musing mood
As all alone he sat,
Th' unwelcome messenger of Fate
Once more before him stood.
Half kill'd with anger and surprise, .
" So soon return'd!" old Dodson cries,
“ So soon, d’ye call it ?" Death replies : " Surely, my friend, you're but in jest !
Since I was here before 'Tis six-and-thirty years at least,
And you now are fourscore.”
“ So much the worse," the clown rejoin'd, : '
“ To spare the aged would be kind :
However, see your search be legal;
And your authorityis't regal ?
Else you are come on a fool's errand,
With but a secretary's warrant.
Beside, you promis'd me Three Warnings,
Which I have look’d for nights and mornings !
But for that. loss of time and ease, .
I can recover damages." -
" I know," cries Death, “ that, at the best,)
I seldom am a welcome guest
But don't be captious, friend, at least :
I little thought you'd still be able
To stump about your farm and stable;
Your years have run to a great length;..
I wish you joy, tho', of your strength !".
* Hold,” says the farmer, “not so fast ! I have been lame these four years past."
" And no great wonder,” Death replies : • However, you still keep your eyes; And sure, to see one's loves and friends, For legs and arms would make amends."
“ Perhaps,” says Dodson, “ so it might, But latterly I've lost my sight.”
“ This is a shocking tale, 'tis true ;
But still there's comfort left for you :
Each strives your sadness to amuse,
I warrant you hear all the news.”
- There's none,” cries he ; " and if there were: l'am grown so deaf, I could not hear."
“ Nay, ther," the spectre stern rejoin'd,
“ These are unjustifiable yearnings ;
“ If you are Lame, and Deaf, and Blind,
You've had vour Three sufficient Warnings..!
So, come along, no more we'll part;
He said, and touch'd him with his dart.
And now, old Dodson turning pale,
Vields to his fate-50 ends my tale. .THRALÉ
! FAR in a wild, unknown to public view,
From youth to age a rev'rend hermit grew;
The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell,
His food the fruits, his drink the crystal wells
Remote from man, with God he pass'd his days,
Pray’r all his business, all his pleasure praise.
A life so sacred, such serene repose,
Seem'd heav'n itself, till one suggestion rose
That vice should triumph, virtue vice obey ;.
This sprung some doubt of Providence's sway:
His hopes no more a certain prospect boast,
And all the tenour of his soul is lost..
So when a smooth expanse receives imprest
Calm nature's image on its wat'ry breast,
Down bend the banks, the trees depending grow,
And skies beneath with answering colours glow .
But if a stone the gentle sea divide,
Swift ruffling circles curl on ev'ry side,
And glimm’ring fragments of a broken sun;
Banks, trees, and skies, in thick disorder run.
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
To find if books or swains report it right,
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wandering o'er the nightly dew,)
He quits his cell ; the pilgrim-staff he bore,
And fix'd the scallop in his hat before ;
Then with the sun a rising journey went,
Sedate to think, and watching each event.
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass,
And long and lonesome was the wild to pass :
But when the southern sun had warm'd the day,
A youth came posting o’er a crossing way :
His raiment decent, his complexion fair,
And soft in graceful ringlets way'd his hair :
Then near approaching, " Father, hail !” he cried,
And “Hail, my son !” the rev’rend sire replied.
Words follow'd words, from question answer flow'd,
And talk of variuus kind deceiv'd the road :
Till each with other pleas'd, and loath to part,
While in their age they differ, join in heart.
Thus stands an aged elm in ivy bound,
Thus youthful ivy clasps an elm around.
Now sunk the sun ; the closing hour of day
Came onward, mantled o'er with sober gray;
Nature in silence bid the world repose :
When near the road a stately palace rose.
There, by the moon, through ranks of trees they pass Whose verdure crown'd the sloping sides of grass. It chanc'd the noble master of the dome Still made his house the wand'ring stranger's home; Yet still the kindness, from a thirst of praise, Prov'd the vain flourish of expensive ease. The pair arrive : the liv'ried servants wait; Their lord receives them at the pompous gate. The table groans with costly piles of food, And all is more than hospitably good.' Then, led to rest, the day's long toil they drown, Deep sunk in sleep, and silk, and heaps of down.
At length 'tis morn, and at the dawn of day
Along the wide canals the zephyrs play ;
Fresh o'er the gay parterres the breezes creepy
And shake the neighb'ring wood to banish sleep.
Up rise the guests, obedient to the call :
An early banquet deck'd the splendid hall;
Rich luscious wine a golden goblet grac'd,
Which the kind master forc'd the guests to taste.
Then, pleas'd and thankful, from the porch they go;
And, but the landlord, none had cause of wo;
His cup was vanish'd; for in secret guise
The younger guest purloin'd the glittering prize.
As one who spies a serpent in his way,
Glistning and basking in the summer ray,
Disorder'd stops to shyn 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 stopp'd 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 bis glory shrouds,
The changing skies hang out their sable cluuds ;
A sound in air presag'd approaching rain,
And beasts to covert scud across the plain.
Warn’d by the signs, the wand'ring pair retreat, i
To seek for shelter at 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,
Onkind 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 show'rs began, .
And o'er their heads loud rolling thunder ran.
Here long they knock, but knock or call in vain,
Driv'n 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 ;)
Šlow creaking turns the door with jealous care,
And half he welcomes in the shiv'ring pair
One frugal fagot 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 cried)
Lock the lost wealth a thousand want beside ?
But what new marks of wonder soon take 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 tumult fly;
The sun emerging opes an azure sky;