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Soon to be left alone in this bad world,—
One summer, Charles, when at the holidays
I pass this ruin'd dwelling oftentimes,
THE LAST OF THE FAMILY.
JAMEs. What, Gregory! you are come, I see, to join us On this sad business. GR-EGORY. Aye, James, I am come, But with a heavy heart, God knows it, man! Where shall we meet the corpse? JAMES. Some hour from hence; By noon, and near about the elms, I take it. This is not as it should be, Gregory, Old men to follow young ones to the grave! This morning when I heard the bell strike out, I thought that I had never heard it toll So dismally before. Gregory. Well, well! my friend, 'T is what we all must come to, soon or late. But when a young man dies, in the prime of life, One born so well, who might have blest us all Many long years!— JAMEs. And then the family Extinguish'd in him, and the good old name Only to be remember d on a tomb-stone! A name that has gone down from sire to son So many generations!—Many a time Poor Master Edward, who is now a corpse, When but a child, would come to me and lead me To the great family-tree, and beg of me To tell him stories of his ancestors, Of Eustace, he that went to the Holy Land with Richard Lion-heart, and that Sir Henry Who fought at Cressy in King Edward's wars; And then his little eyes would kindle so To hear of their brave deeds! I used to think The bravest of them all would not out-do My darling boy.
GREGORY. This comes of your great schools And college-breeding. Plague upon his guardians, That would have made him wiser than his fathers! JAMEs. If his poor father, Gregory, had but lived, Things would not have been so. He, poor good man, Had little of book-learning, but there lived not A kinder, nobler-hearted gentleman, One better to his tenants. When he died There was not a dry eye for miles around. Gregory, I thought that I could never know A sadder day than that : but what was that, Compared with this day's sorrow? GReg of Y. I remember, Eight months ago, when the young Squire began To alter the old mansion, they destroy'd The martin's nests, that had stood undisturb’d Under that roof-aye! long before my memory. I shook my head at seeing it, and thought No good could follow. JAMEs. Poor young man! I loved him Like my own child. I loved the family: Come Candlemas, and I have been their servant For five-and-forty years. I lived with them When his good father brought my Lady home: And when the young Squire was born, it did me good To hear the bells so merrily announce An heir. This is indeed a heavy blow— I feel it, Gregory, heavier than the weight Of threescore years. He was a noble lad, I loved him dearly. GREGony. Every body loved him. Such a fine, generous, open-hearted Youth ! When he came home from school at holidays, How I rejoiced to see him he was sure To come and ask of me what birds there were About my fields; and when I found a covey, There 's not a testy Squire preserves his game More charily, than I have kept them safe For Master Edward. And he look d so well Upon a fine sharp morning after them, His brown hair frosted, and his cheek so flush'd With such a wholesome ruddiness, Lah, James, But he was sadly changed when he came down To keep his birth-day. JAMEs. Changed! why, Gregory, T was like a palsy to me, when he stepp'd Out of the carriage. He was grown so thin, His check so delicate sallow, and his eyes Had such a dim and rakish hollowness; And when he came to shake me by the hand, And spoke as kindly to me as he used, I hardly knew the voice. Graeco-RY. It struck a damp On all our merriment. T was a noble Ox That smoked before us, and the old October Went merrily in evertlowing cans; But 't was a skin-deep merriment. My heart Seem'd as it took no share. And when we drank Ilis health, the thought came over me what cause
we had for wishing that, and spoilt the draught.
When the Doctor sent him
But little, And that not well. But be he what he may Matters not much to me. The love I bore To the old family will not casily fix Upon a stranger. What's on the opposite hill? Is it not the funeral? Grego RY.
'T is, I think, some horsemen. Aye! they are the black cloaks; and now I see The white plumes on the hearse.
Between the trees;–
And there's the coaches following, we shall meet
God above knows!
When youth is summon'd, what must age expect!
A lazy idler,-one who better likes
You look upon the world with jaundiced eyes!
' A farmer once told the author of Maltern Hills, a that he almost constantly remarked a gradation of changes in those men he had been in the habit of employing. Young men, he said, were generally neat in their appearance, active and cheerful, till they became married and had a family, when he had observed that their silver buttons, buckles, and watches gradually disappeared, and their Sunday's clothes became common without any other to supply their place,—but, said he, some good comes from this, for they will then work for whatever they can get. --Note to Cottle's Malvern Hills.
| For wilfully, like this new-married pair,
The ALDERMAN'S FUNERAL.
stra N.Grit. Whom are they ushering from the world, with all This pageantry and long parade of death? Towns M.A.N. A long parade, indeed, Sir, and yet here You see but half; round yonder bend it reaches A furlong farther, carriage behind carriage. st RAN Gert. 'T is but a mournful sight, and yet the pomp Tempts me to stand a gazer. Towns:MAN. Yonder schoolboy Who plays the truant, says the proclamation Of peace was nothing to the show; and even The chairing of the members at election Would not have been a finer sight than this; Only that red and green are prettier colours Than all this mourning. There, Sir, you behold One of the red-gown'd worthies of the city, The envy and the boast of our exchange;— Aye, what was worth, last week, a good half-million, Screw'd down in yonder hearse! sta ANGER. Then he was born Under a lucky planet, who to-day Puts mourning on for his inheritance. towns M.A.N. when first I heard his death, that very wish Leapt to my lips; but now the closing scene Of the comedy hath waken'd wiser thoughts; And I bless God, that, when I go to the grave, There will not be the weight of wealth like his To sink me down. 5th Angen. The camel and the needle, Is that then in your mind?
townsm An. Even so. The text Is Gospel-wisdom. I would ride the camel,Yea leap him flying, through the needle's eye, As easily as such a pampered soul Could pass the narrow gate. stria NGER. Your pardon, Sir, But sure this lack of Christian charity Looks not like Christian truth. Townsman. Your pardon too, Sir, If, with this text before me, I should feel In the preaching mood! But for these barren fig-trees, With all their flourish and their leafiness, We have been told their destiny and use, When the axe is laid unto the root and they Cumber the earth no longer. sta Ang ER. Was his wealth Stored fraudfully,–the spoil of orphans wrong’d, And widows who had none to plead their right? towns M.A.N. All honest, open, honourable gains, Fair legal interest, bonds and mortgages, Ships to the East and West. strancert. Why judge you then So hardly of the dead? townsman. For what he left Undone;—for sins, not one of which is mentioned In the Ten Commandments. He, I warrant him,
Believed no other Gods than those of the Creed:
Bow'd to no idols, but his money-bags:
sta ANGER. You knew him then, it seems?
As all men know
The virtues of your hundred-thousanders;
Yet even these
Are reservoirs whence public charity
Now, Sir, you touch
r Upon the point. This man of half a million Had all these public virtues which you praise: But the poor man rung never at his door; And the old beggar, at the public gate, Who, all the summer long, stands, hat in hand, He knew how vain it was to lift an eye To that hard face. Yet he was always found | Among your ten and twenty pound subscribers, Your benefactors in the newspapers. His alms were money put to interest In the other world,—donations to keep open A running charity-account with heaven:— Retaining fees against the last assizes, When, for the trusted talents, strict account Shall be required from all, and the old Arch-Lawyer Plead his own cause as plaintiff. stranger. I must needs Iselieve you, Sir:-these are your witnesses, These mourners here, who from their carriages Gape at the gaping crowd. A good March wind Were to be pray'd for now, to lend their eyes Some decent rheum. The very hireling mute Bears not a face blanker of all emotion Than the old servant of the family: How can this man have lived, that thus his death Costs not the soiling one white handkerchief! towns M.A.N. Who should lament for him, Sir, in whose heart Love had no place, nor natural charity? The parlour spaniel, when she heard his step, Rose slowly from the hearth, and stole aside With creeping pace; she never raised her eyes To woo kind words from him, nor laid her head Upraised upon his knee, with fondling whine. How could it be but thus' Arithmetic Was the sole science he was ever taught; The multiplication-table was his Creed, His Pater-noster, and his Decalogue. When yet he was a boy, and should have breathed The open air and sunshine of the fields, To give his blood its natural spring and play, He in a close and dusky counting-house, Smoke-dried and sear'd and shrivell'd up his heart. So, from the way in which he was train'd up, His feet departed not ; he toil'd and moil'd, Poor muck-worm' through his three-score years and ten ; And when the earth shall now be shovell'd on him; If that which served him for a soul were still Within his husk, 't would still be dirt to dirt. stn A N Gen. Yet your next newspapers will blazon him For industry and honourable wealth A bright example.
Towns M.A.N. Even half a million Gets him no other praise. But come this way Some twelve months hence, and you will find his virtues Trimly set forth in lapidary lines, Faith, with her torch beside, and little Cupids Dropping upon his urn their marble tears. 18o3.
BALLADS AND METRICAL TALES.
MARY THE MAID OF THE INN.
The subject of the following Ballad was related to me, when a school-boy, as a fact which had happened in the north of England. Either Furnes or Kirkstall Abbey (I forget which) was named as the scene. It seems, however, to have been founded upon a story related in Dr Plot's History of Staffordshire. - Amongst the unusual accidents," says this amusins; author, a that have attended the female sex in the course of their lives, I think I may also reckon the narrow escapes they have made from death. Whereof I met with one mentioned with admiration by every body at Leek, that happened not far off at the Black Meer of Morridge, which, though famous for nothing for which it is commonly reputed so (as that it is bottomless, no cattle will drink of it, or birds fly over or settle upon it, all which I found false), yet is so, for the signal deliverance of a poor woman, enticed thither in a dismal stormy night, by a bloody ruffian, who had first gotten her with child, and intended in this remote inhospitable place to have dispatched her by drowning. The same night (Providence so ordering it) there were several persons of inferior rank drinking in an alc-house at Leek, whereof one having been out, and observing the darkness and other ill circumstances of the weather, coming in again, said to the rest of his companions, that he were a stout man indeed that would venture to go to the black Meer of Morridge in such a night as that: to which one of them replying, that for a crown or some such sum he would undertake it, the rest joining their purses, said he should have his demand. The bargain being struck, away he went on his journey with a stick in his hand, which he was to leave there as a testimony of his pe formance. At length coming near the Meer, he heard the lamentable cries of this distressed woman, begging for mercy, which at first put him to a stand; but being a man of great resolution and some policy, he went boldly on, however, counterfeiting the presence of divers other persons, calling Jack, Dick, and Tom, and crying Here are the rogues we look'd for, etc.; which being heard by the murderer, he left the woman and fled; whom the other man found by the Meer side almost stript of her clothes, and brought her with him to Leek as an ample testimony of his having been at the Meer, and of God's providence too. --P. 291. The metre is Mr Lewis's invention; and metre is one of the few things concerning which popularity may be admitted as a proof of merit. The Ballad has become popular owing to the metre and the story: as for every thing else, dum relego scripsisse pudet. It has however been made the subject of a fine picture by Mr Barker.
Who is yonder poor Maniac, whose wildly-fix'd eyes
Yet cheerful and happy, nor distant the day,
The Traveller remembers who journey'd this way
No damsel so lovely, no damsel so gay,
Her cheerful address fill'd the guests with delight As she welcomed them in with a smile;
Her heart was a stranger to childish affright,
And Mary would walk by the Abbey at night When the wind whistled down the dark aisle.