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The Soldier's Story
The Old Man and the Carrion Crow .... 177 Newcastle-upon-Tyne .......
The Seven Temptations.
What's done we partly may compute,
ALARIC A. WATTS, ESQ. THIS VOLUME IS INSCRIBED, BY HIS SINCERE FRIEND,
degree, at the shapes of atrocity into which some of them are transformed; and learn to bear with others
as brethren, who have been tried tenfold beyond our The idea of this poem originated in a strong impres
own experience, or perhaps our strength. sion of the immense value of the human soul, and of
The evil agent whom I have employed for tho all the varied modes of its trials, according to its own working out of this moral process, in this poem, may infinitely varied modifications, as existing in different either be regarded literally, as he is represented, individuals. We see the awful mass of sorrow and according to the popular creed; or simply, as a perof crime in the world, but we know only in part-in sonification of the principle of temptation, as each a very small degree, the fearful weight of solicitations individual reader's own bias of sentiment may lead and impulses of passion, and the vast constraint of him to prefer: for my own part, I regard him in the circumstances, that are brought into play against latter point of view. suffering humanity. In the luminous words of my
There may be some who may not approve of the motto,
extent of crime which I have brought into action in What's done we partly may compute,
the course of these dramas. They may deem the But know not what's resisted.'
experiment especially dubious in a female writer. Thus, without sufficient reflection, we are furnished But let such reflect, that without high temptation with data on which to condemn our fellow-creatures, there could be no high crime; without high crime but without sufficient grounds for their palliation and there could be no actual and adequate representation commiseration. It is necessary for the acquisition of human nature, as we know it to exist. And of that charity, which is the soul of Christianity, for therefore to have flinched in this respect, would have us to descend into the depths of our own nature; to been to defeat the whole object of my work. Let put ourselves into many imaginary and untried situa- those reflect also, that it has not been my plan to tions, that we may enable ourselves to form some rende the description of crin alluring. In that tolerable notion how we might be affected by them; case ) should have deserved, not only all the blame how far we might be tempted – how far deceived the timid or the rigidly righteous could heap upon how far we might have occasion to lament the evil me, but also that of the philosophical observer of our power of circumstances, to weep over our own weak. nature ; for my view of it then would have been ness, and pray for the pardon of our crimes ; that, false and injust. But I have painted the career of having raised up this vivid perception of what we crime such as it is-one uniform downward tendency might do, suffer and become, we may apply the rule to degradation and ruinous misery; and have thereby to our fellows, and cease to be astonished in some held up to young and old, to strong and weak, io
THE POOR SCHOLAR.
the high and the lowly of earth, the most important ours thou murmurest against: it is for less than this moral lesson that the light and darkness of this that he obtained them !" strange life can teach to tried, allured, rational yet You shall see,” said Achzib exultingly, “what I corruptible, intellectual yet sense-involved beings, will do. I will select seven human beings, and tempt the most important we are capable of giving or them according to their several natures; and if I receiving
prove not beyond dispute the superior power of evil, The scenes, characters, and events in these dramas let me be called tenfold, Achzib the liar!" are, as in human life, exceedingly various, and ex- “Be it so!" replied the other two. ceedingly diversified in their degrees of moral purity or turpitude; but if they are allowed only to be such Achzib was upon earth. He took up his abode in as fall really within the scope of our nature, they a famous city, and assuming the character of a phineed no defence, for they must be full of lessons of losopher, inquired out their most learned men. All wisdom and of stimulus to good.
told him of a poor scholar. Achzib saw him and conversed with him. He found him young, worn out with study, and as simple, unpractised and inexperienced in the ways of men as a child. This shall
be my first essay, said Achzib; and accordingly, acTHE SEVEN TEMPTATIONS.
cumulating learned treatises and immeasurably long parchments of puzzling but unsound philosophy, he made his attempt.
Whether Achzib or the Poor
Scholar triumphed, shall be seen. In a gloomy chaotic region of universal space inhabited by the Spirits of Evil, who, enraged at their expulsion from heaven, still endeavoured to revenge themselves upon the justice of God, by over
THE POOR SCHOLAR. turning or defacing the beauty of his moral creation in the spirit of man, sate three of the lower order of
PERSONS. Spirits. Among them was, Achzib the liar, or the runner to and fro,--a restless, ambitious spirit, who,
ACHZIB, THE PHILOSOPHER. hating good, coveted distinction among the bad.
For a long time they had sate in silence, each occupied by his own cogitations; and there is no telling how much longer they might have remained so, had not the attention of the youngest been diverted by a
The Scholar's Room. — Evening. gloomily magnificent procession, which was dimly seen passing in the distance.
Lillle Boy, reading. “These things I have spoken “ Another of the favoured ones," said he, “is this unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the day crowned !"
world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, " Ay," replied Achzib, “it is an easy thing for I have overcome the world." Here endeth the 16th some to obtain distinction! I have desired it for long; chapter of the Gospel according to St. John. I have done services to merit it; but my merits, like Poor Scholar. Most precious words! Now go your my desires, are fruitless."
way; “ Hast thou," inquired the eldest of the three, The summer fields are green and bright; "proved the supremacy of evil? bast thou shown Your tasks are done. - Why do you stay? that we are stronger than God?"
Christ give his peace to you: Good night! “I have done much," said Achzib, “as ye all Boy. You look so pale, sir! you are worse ; know!"
Let me remain, and be your nurse! “ But, if thou have failed to do this,' rejoined the Sir, when my mother has been ill, other, “thou canst not have deserved the distinction I've kept her chamber neat and still, thou desirest!"
And waited on her all the day! “But that is soon done!" answered Achzib.
Schol. Thank you! but yet you must not stay; “Not so soon!" interrupted the youngest spirit. Still, still my boy, before we part “ I have tried to prove it till I am weary; and now Receive my blessing — 'tis my last! I unreluctantly make the confession, that though we I feel Death's hand is on my heart, are mighty, God is mightier than we-his mercy is And my life's sun is sinking fast; stronger than our hate, his integrity than our craft!" Yet mark me, child, I have no fear,
“I deny all this,” said Achzib, “and I will prove 'Tis thus the Christian meets his end : it beyond controversy! I will directly ascend to the I know my work is finished here, earth: and of the human spirits whom I will tempt, And God — thy God too - is my friend ! I will win the greater number, if not all of them, to The joyful course has just began; their ruin!"
Life is in thee a fountain strong ; “ If thou do this," said the eldest spirit, “ thou wilt Yet look upon a dying man, indeed deserve to be crowned like him whose hon- Receive his words and keep them long!
TIIE POOR SCHOLAR AND LITTLE BOY.
Fear God, all-wise, omnipotent,
Life cannot comprehend thee, though thou showest In him we live and have our being;
Thyself by all the functions of our life — He hath all love, all blessing sent
| 'Tis death — death only, which is the great teacher! Creator — Father — All-decreeing !
Awful instructor! he doth enter in Fear him, and love, and praise, and trust:
The golden rooms of state, and all perforce Yet have of man no slavish fear;
Teach there its proud, reluctant occupant; Remember kings, like thee, are dust,
He doth inform in miserable dens And at one judgment must appear.
The locked-up soul of sordid ignorance But virtue, and its holy fruits,
With his sublimest knowledge! he hath stolen The poet's soul, the sage's sense,
Gently, not unawares, into the chamber These are exalted auributes;
of the Poor Scholar, like a sober friend And these demand thy reverence.
Who doth give time for ample preparation! But, boy, remember this, e'en then
He hath dealt kindly with me, giving first Revere the gifts, but not the men!
Yearnings for unimaginable good, Obey thy parents; they are given
Which the world's pleasure could not satisfy; To guide our inexperienced youth;
And lofty aspiration, that lured on Types are they of the One in heaven,
The ardent soul as the sun lures the eagle; Chastising but in love and truth!
Next came a drooping of the outward frame, Keep thyself pure — sin doth efface
Paleness and feebleness, and wasted limbs, The beauty of our spiritual life:
Which said, “ prepare! thy days are numbered !" Do good to all men - live in peace
And thus for months had this poor frame declined, And charity, abhorring strife!
Wasting and wasting ; yet the spirit intense The mental power which God has given,
Growing more clear, more hourly confident, As I have taught thee, cultivate ;
As if its disenthralment had begun! Thou canst not be too wise for heaven,
Oh, I should long to die! If thou dost humbly consecrate
To be among the stars, the glorious stars; Thy soul to God! and ever take
To have no bounds to knowledge; to drink deep In his good book delight; there lies
of living fountains — to behold the wise, The highest knowledge, which will make
The good, the glorified ! to be with God, Thy soul unto salvation wise !
And Christ, who passed through death that I might My little boy, thou canst not know
live! How strives my spirit fervently,
Oh I should long for death, but for one tie, How my heart's fountains overflow
One lingering tie that binds me to the earth! With yearning tenderness for thee!
My mother! dearest, kindest, best of mothers! God kecp and strengthen thee from sin!
What do I owe hier not? all that is great, God crown thy life with peace and joy,
All that is pure — all that I have enjoyed And give at last to enter in
Of outward pleasure, or of spiritual life, The city of his rest!
I have derived from her! has she not laboured My boy
Early and late for me? first through the years Farewell -- I have had joy in thee;
Of sickly infancy — then by her toil I go to higher joy - oh, follow me!
Maintained the ambitious scholar -overpaid
By what men said of him! Oh thou untired,
True heart of love, for thee I hoped to live;
To fill my father's place, and make thine age
meditation, then rising and putting away Alas! it may not be! thou hast to weep-
Which bows it to the dust, when some unlooked-for, Scho. Now, now I need them not, I've done with some irremediable woe befals! them.
-Surely ere long thou wilt be at my side, I need not blind philosophy, nor dreams
For I did summon thee, and thy strong love Of speculating men, entangling truth
Brooks not delay! Alas, thou knowest not In cobweb sophistry, away with them
It was to die within thy holy arms One word read by that child is worth them all! That I have asked thy presence! Oh! come, come, — The business of my life is finished now
Thou most beloved being, bless thy son, With this day's work. I have dismissed the class And lake one comfort in his peaceful death! For the last timeI am alone with death!
[A slight knocking is heard at the door Tomorrow morn, they will inquire for me,
and the Philosopher enters. And learn that I have solved the last, great problem. Philos. Well, my young friend, I've looked in to This pale, attenuate frame they may behold,
inquire But that which loves, and hopes, and speculates, After your health. I saw your class depart, They will perceive no more. Mysterious being! And would have conference with you once again.
Schol. To-night I must decline your friendship, sir. Just tottering on eternity! Delusion, I am so weak I cannot talk with
'Tis all delusion! while my soul abhorred, On controversial points ever again.
My heart was wounded at the traitorous act! Besides, my faith brings such a holy joy,
Philos. Come, come, my friend, this is mere do Such large reward of peace, why would you shake it?
clamation; Or is it now a time for doubts and fears,
You have misunderstood both them and me! When my soul's energy should be concentred
Point out the errors — you shall find me ever For one great trial ? See you not, e'en now,
Open unto conviction. The spectre death is with me?
See my state Philos.
Cheer up, friend. A few short hours, and I must be with God; It is the nature of all sickness thus
And yet you ask me to evolve that long To bring death near to the imagination,
Entanglement of subtlest sophistry! Even as a telescope doth show the moon
This is no friendly part: but I conjure you,
Give not your soul to vain philosophy :
Needs other, mightier wisdom than it yields.
Oh, though I am but young, and you are old, Have you perused the books I left with you ? Grant me the privilege of a dying man, Schol. I have, and like them not!
To counsel you in love!
I see that you are spent. I have too long And burning eloquence? For a strong soul,
Trespassed upon your time. But is there nought Baptized in the immortal wells of thought,
That I can serve you in? Aspire you not They must be glorious food!
To win esteem by study? I will speak
Pardon me, sir, Unto the primest scholars throughout Europe
Will heap upon you honours at my asking.
Schol. There was a time these things had been a They will mislead, and baffle and confound : Besides, among the sages whom you boast of,
But the near prospect of eternity With their proud heathen virtues, can ye find
Takes from the gauds of earth their tempting'st lure; A purer, loftier, nobler character;
No, no- it was a poor unmeet ambition More innocent, and yet more filled with wisdom,
Which then was hot within me, and, thank God, Fuller of high devotion — more heroic
Affecteth me no more! Than the Lord Jesus — dignified yet humble;
Nay, but my friend, Warring 'gainst sin, and yet for sinners dying ?
For your dear mother's sake would you not leave Philos. Well; pass the men, what say you to the
A noble name emblazoned on your tomb? morals? Schol. And where is the Utopian code of morals
Schol. Can such poor, empty honours compensate Equal to that which a few words set forth
Unto a childless mother for her son ? Unto the Christian, “ do ye so to others
You know her not, and me you know not either! As ye would they should do unto yourselves.”
Philos. But think you, my young friend, learning And where, among the fables of their poets,
is honoured Which you pretend veil the divinest truths,
By every honour paid to its disciples : Find you the penitent prodigal coming back
Your tomb would be a shrine, to learning sacred. Unto his father's bosom ; thus to show
Schol. There is more comfort, sir, unto my soul God's love, and our relationship to him ?
To feel the smallest duty not neglected, Where do they teach us in our many needs
And my day's work fulfilled, than if I knew To lift up our bowed, broken hearts to God,
This perishable dust would be interred And call him “ Father?”—Leave me as I am!
In kingly marble, and my name set forth I am not ignorant, though my learning lie
In pompous blazonry. In this small book-nor do I ask for more!
Not to be great Philos. But have you read the parchments?
You do mistake my drift - but greatly useful; Schol.
All of them. Surely you call not this unmeet ambition! Philos. And what impression might they make Schol. Sir, had the will of God ordained a wider, upon you ?
A nobler sphere of usefulness on earth, For knowing as I do your graceful mind,
He would have given me strength, and health, and And your profound research beyond your years,
power I am solicitous of your approval.
For its accomplishment. I murmur not
Who has permitted me to do that little;
And die content in his sufficient mercy, To hold these gorgeous baits before a soul
Which has vouchsafed reward beyond my merit.