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IV.

FREDERIC.

TIME, Night. SCENE, The Woods.

WHERE shall I turn me? whither shall I bend
My weary way ? thus worn with toil and faint,
How through the thorny mazes of this wood
Attain my distant dwelling? That deep cry
That echoes through the forest, seems to sound
My parting knell : it is the midnight howl
Of hungry monsters prowling for their prey !
Again! O save me -save me, gracious Heaven !
I am not fit to die !

Thou coward wretch,
Why palpitates thy heart? why shake thy limbs
Beneath their palsied burthen ? Is there aught
So lovely in existence ? wouldst thou drain
Even to its dregs the bitter draught of life?
Stamp'd with the brand of Vice and Infamy,
Why should the felon Frederic shrink from Death?

Death! Where the magic in that empty name That chills my inmost heart? Why at the thought Starts the cold dew of fear on every

limb ? There are no terrors to surround the Grave, When the calm Mind collected in itself Surveys that narrow house: the ghastly train

That haunt the midnight of delirious Guilt
Then vanish; in that home of endless rest
All sorrows cease!.. Would I might slumber there !

Why then this panting of the fearful heart?
This miser love of life, that dreads to lose
Its cherish'd torment? Shall a man diseased
Yield

up his members to the surgeon's knife,
Doubtful of succour, but to rid his frame
Of fleshly anguish ; and the coward wretch,
Whose ulcerated soul can know no help,
Shrink from the best Physician's certain aid ?
Oh, it were better far to lie me down
Here on this cold damp earth, till some wild beast
Seize on his willing victim.

If to die Were all, 'twere sweet indeed to rest my head On the cold clod, and sleep the sleep of Death. But if the Archangel's trump at the last hour Startle the ear of Death, and wake the soul To frenzy ? .. Dreams of infancy; fit tales For garrulous beldames to affrighten babes! What if I warr’d upon the world ? the world Had wrong'd me first: I had endured the ills Of hard injustice; all this goodly earth Was but to me one wide waste wilderness; I had no share in Nature's patrimony; Blasted were all my morning hopes of youth, Dark Disappointment followed on my ways, Care was my bosom inmate, Penury Gnaw'd at my heart. Eternal One, thou know'st How that poor heart, even in the bitter hour

Of lewdest revelry has inly yearn'd

For peace.

My Father! I will call on thee, Pour to thy mercy-seat my carnest prayer, And wait thy righteous will, resign'd of soul. O thought of comfort ! how the afflicted heart, Tired with the tempest of its passions, rests On you with holy hope! The hollow howl Of yonder harmless tenant of the woods Comes with no terror to the sober'd sense. If I have sinn'd against mankind, on them Be that past sin; they made me what I was. In these extremest climes Want can no more Urge me to deeds of darkness, and at length Here I may rest. What though my hut be poorThe rains descend not through its humble roof:... Would I were there again! The night is cold; And what if in my wanderings I should rouse The savage from his thicket!

Hark! the gun! And lo, the fire of safety! I shall reach My little hut again ! again by toil Force from the stubborn earth my sustenance, And quick-ear'd guilt will never start alarm’d Amid the well-earn'd meal. This felon's garb.. Will it not shield me from the winds of Heaven? And what could purple more? O strengthen ine, Eternal One, in this serener state! Cleanse thou mine heart, so Penitence and Faith Shall heal my soul, and my last days be peace.

Oxford, 1794.

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Go, Valentine, and tell that lovely maid
Whom fancy still will pourtray to my sight,
How here I linger in this sullen shade,
This dreary gloom of dull monastic night;
Say, that from every joy of life remote
At evening's closing hour I quit the throng,
Listening in solitude the ring-dove's note,
Who
pours

like me her solitary song ;
Say, that her absence calls the sorrowing sigh;
Say, that of all her charms I love to speak,
In fancy feel the magic of her eye,
In fancy view the smile illume her cheek,
Court the lone hour when silence stills the grove,
And heave the sigh of memory and of love.

1794.

II. Think, Valentine, as speeding on thy way Homeward thou hastest light of heart along, If heavily creep on one little day The medley crew of travellers among, Think on thine absent friend; reflect that here On life's sad journey comfortless he roves, Remote from every scene his heart holds dear, From him he values, and from her he loves. And when, disgusted with the vain and dull Whom chance companions of thy way may doom, Thy mind, of each domestic comfort full, Turns to itself and meditates on home, Ah think what cares must ache within his breast Who loathes the road, yet sees no home of rest.

1794.

III.
Not to thee, Bedford, mournful is the tale
Of days departed. Tinie in his career
Arraigns not thee that the neglected year
Hath past unheeded onward. To the vale
Of

years thou journeyest; may the future road
Be pleasant as the past; and on my friend
Friendship and Love, best blessings, still attend,
Till full of days he reach the calm abode
Where Nature slumbers. Lovely is the age
Of virtue: with such reverence we behold
The silver hairs, as some gray

oak
grown

old
That whilome mock'd the rushing tempest's rage,
Now like a monument of strength decay'd,
With rarely-sprinkled leaves casting a trembling shade

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