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Various and strange was the long-winded tale;
And halls, and knights, and feats of arms, display'd;
Or merry swains, who quaff the nut-brown ale,
And sing enamour'd of the nut-brown maid;
The moonlight revel of the fairy glade ;
Or hags, that suckle an infernal brood,
And ply in caves th’ unutterable trade,
'Midst fiends and spectres, quench the moon in blood,
Yell in the midnight storm, or ride th' infuriate flood.
But when to horror his amazement rose,
A gentler strain the beldame would rehearse,
A tale of rural life, a tale of woes,
The orphan-babes, and guardian uncle fierce.
O cruel ! will no pang of pity pierce
That heart, by lust of lucre sear'd to stone ?
For sure, if aught of virtue last, or verse,
To latest times shall tender souls bemoan
Those hopeless orphan babes by thy fell arts undone.
Behold, with berries smear'd, with brambles torn,
The babes now famish'd lay them down to die:
Amidst the howl of darksome woods forlorn,
Folded in one another's arms they lie;
Nor friend, nor stranger, hears their dying cry:
« For from the town the man returns no more."
But thou, who Heaven's just vengeance dar'st defy,
This deed with fruitless tears shalt soon deplore,
When Death lays waste thy house, and flames con-
sume thy store.
A stifled smile of stern vindictive joy
Brighten'd one moment Edwin's starting tear,
“ But why should gold man's feeble mind decoy,'
And innocence thus die by doom severe?”
O Edwin! while thy heart is yet sincere,
Th' assaults of discontent and doubt repel:
Dark even at noontide is our mortal sphere;
But let us hope; to doubt is to rebel;
Let us exult in hope, that-all shall yet be well. .
Nor be thy generous indignation check’d,
Nor check'd the tender tear to Misery given;
From Guilt's contagious power shall that protect,
This soften and refine the soul for Heaven.
But dreadful is their doom, whom doubt has driven
To censure Fate, and pious Hope forego;
Like yonder blasted boughs by lightning riven,
Perfection, beauty, life, they never know,
But frown on all that pass, a monument of woe.
Shall he, whose birth, maturity, and age, ...
Scarce fill the circle of one summer day,
Shall the poor gnat, with discontent and rage,
Exclaim that Nature hastens to decay,
If but a cloud obstruct the solar ray,
If but a momentary shower descend !
Or shall frail man Heaven's dread decree gainsay,
Which bade the series of events extend
Wide through unnumber'd worlds, and ages without
One part, one little part, we dimly scan
Through the dark medium of life's feverish dream;
Yet dare arraign the whole stupendous plan,
If but that little part incongruous seem.
Nor is.that part perhaps what mortals deem;
Oft from apparent ilt our blessings rise.
O then renounce that impious self-esteem,
That aims to trace the secrets of the skies:
For thou art but of dust; be humble, and be wise.
Thus Heaven enlarg'd his soul in riper years.
For Nature gave bim strength, and fire, to soar
On Fancy's wing above this vale of tears; ; ;
Where dark cold-hearted sceptics, creeping, pore:
Through microscope of metaphysic lore:
And much they grope for truth, but never hit.
For why? Their powers, inadequate before,
This idle art makes more and more unfit;
Yet deem they darkness light, and their vain blunders
Nor was this ancient dame a foe to mirth:
Her ballad, jest, and riddle's quaint device
Oft cheer'd the shepherds round their social hearth;
Whom levity or spleen could ne'er entice
To purchase chat, or laughter, at the price
Of decency. Nor let it faith exceed,
That Nature forms 'a rustic taste so nice
Ah! had they been of court or city breed,
Such delicacy were right marvellous indeed.
Oft when the winter storm had ceas'd to rave,
He roam'd the snowy waste at even, to view
The cloud stupendous, from th’ Atlantic wave .
High-towering, sail along th’ horizon blue:
Where, 'midst the changeful scenery, ever new,
Fancy a thousand wondrous forms descries,
More wildly great than ever pencil drew,
Rocks, torrents, gulfs, and shapes of giant size,
And glitt'ring cliffs on cliffs, and fiery ramparts rise.
Thence musing onward to the sounding shore,
The lone enthusiast oft would take his way,
Listening, with pleasing dread, to the deep roar,
Of the wide-weltering waves. In black array
When sulphurous clouds rolld on th’autumnal day,
Even then he hasten’d from the haunt of man,'
Along the trembling wilderness to stray, .
What time the lightning's fierce career began,
And o’er Heav'n's rending arch the rattling thunder
Responsive to the sprightly pipe, when all
In sprightly dance the village youth were join'd,
Edwin, of melody aye held in thrall,
From the rude gambol far remote reclin’d,
Sooth'd with the soft notes warbling in the wind.
Ah then, all jollity seem'd noise and folly,
To the pure soul by Fancy's fire refin'd, ...,
Ah, what is mirth but turbulence unholy, si,
When with the charm compar'd of heavenly melan-
Is there a heart that music cannot melt?
Alas ! how is that rugged heart forlorn;
Is there, who ne'er those mystic transports felt
Of solitude and melancholy born ?
He needs not woo the Muse; he is her scorn.
The sophist's rope of cobweb he shall twine; '
Mope o'er the schoolman's peevish page; or mourn,
And delve for life in Mammon's dirty mine; ..
Sneak with the scoundrel fox, or grunt with glutton
For Edwin Fate a nobler doom had plann'd;
Song was his favourite and first pursuit.
The wild harp rang to his advent'rous hand, ;
And languish'd to his breath the plaintive Aute.
His infant Muse, though artless, was not mute:
Of elegance as yet he took no care ; :
For this of time and culture is the fruit;
And Edwin gain'd at last this fruit so rare:
As in some future verse I purpose to declare..
Meanwhile, whate'er of beautiful, or new,
Sublime, or dreadful, in earth, sea, or sky,
By chance, or search, was offer'd to his view,
He scann'd with curious and romantic eye.
Whate'er of lore tradition could supply
From gothic tale, or song, or fable old,
Roused him, still keen to listen and to pry.
At last, though long by penury controll’d,
And solitude, her soul his graces 'gan unfold.