Obrázky stránek




ONCE on a time, a son and sire, we're told,
The stripling tender, and the father old,
Purchased a jack-ass at a country fair,

To ease their limbs, and hawk about their ware

But as the sluggish animal was weak,

They feared, if both should mount, his back would break.

Up gets the boy, the father leads the ass,

And through the gazing crowd attempts to pass.

Forth from the throng the grey-beards hobble out,

And hail the cavalcade with feeble shout,
"This the respect to reverend age you show.
And this the duty you to parents owe?
He beats the hoof, and you are set astride!
Sirrah! get down, and let your father ride."
As Grecian lads were seldom void of grace,
The decent, duteous youth resigned his place.
Then a fresh murmur through the rabble ran;
Boys, girls, wives, widows, all attack the man.
"Sure never was brute beast so void of nature!
Have you no pity for the pretty creature?
To your own baby can you be unkind?
Here Suke, Bill, Betty-put the child behind."
Old Dapple next the clown's compassion claimed:
""Tis wonderment them boobies ben't ashamed!
Two at a time upon the poor dumb beast!
They might as well have carried him, at least."
The pair, still pliant to the partial voice,
Dismount, and bear the ass- then what a noise!
Huzzas, loud laughs, low gibe, and bitter joke,
From the yet silent sire, these words provoke :-
"Proceed, my boy, nor heed their farther call:
Vain his attempts who strives to please them all."



THE lawns were dry in Euston park,
(Here truth inspires my tale),
The lonely footpath, still and dark,
Led over hill and dale.

Benighted was an ancient dame,
And fearful haste she made
To gain the vale of Fakenham,
And hail its willow shade.

Her footsteps knew no idle stops,
But followed faster still:

And echoed to the darksome copse

That whispered on the hill:

Where clamorous rooks, yet scarcely hushed,

Bespoke a peopled shade;

And many a wing the foliage brushed,

And hovering circuits made.

The dappled herd of grazing deer,

That sought the shades by day, Now started from her path with fear, And gave the stranger way.

Darker it grew, and darker fears

Came o'er her troubled mind;

When now, a short quick step she hears
Come patting close behind.

She turned-it stopt-nought could she see Upon the gloomy plain !

But, as she strove the Sprite to flee,

She heard the same again.

Now terror seized her quaking frame :
For, where the path was bare,

The trotting ghost kept on the same!
She muttered many a prayer.

Yet once again, amidst her fright,
She tried what sight could do;
When, through the cheating gloom of night,
A monster stood in view.

Regardless of whate'er she felt,

It followed down the plain !

She owned her sins, and down she knelt,
And said her prayers again.

Then on she sped, and hope grew strong,
The white park-gate in view :
Which pushing hard, so long it swung
That Ghost and all passed through.

Loud fell the gate against the post!
Her heart-strings like to crack :
For much she feared the grisly ghost
Would leap upon her back.

Still on, pat, pat, the Goblin went,
As it had done before-
Her strength and resolution spent,

She fainted at the door.

Out came her husband, much surprised;
Out came her daughter dear:
Good-natured souls! all unadvised

Of what they had to fear.

The candle's gleam pierced through the night,

Some short space o'er the green :

And there the little trotting Sprite

Distinctly might be seen.

An ass's foal had lost its dam
Within the spacious park;
And, simple as the playful lamb,
Had followed in the dark.

No Goblin he; no imp of sin;
No crimes had he e'er known:
They took the shaggy stranger in,
And reared him as their own.

His little hoofs would rattle round
Upon the cottage floor ;

The matron learned to love the sound
That frightened her before.

A favourite the Ghost became,
And 'twas his fate to thrive ;
And long he lived, and spread his fame,
And kept the joke alive.

For many a laugh went through the vale,
And some conviction too:
Each thought some other Goblin tale
Perhaps was just as true.



THE tree of deepest root is found
Least willing still to quit the ground;
Twas therefore said by ancient sages,
That love of life increased with years
So much, that in our latter stages,
When pains grow sharp, and sickness rages,
The greatest love of life appears.

This strong affection to believe
Which all confess, but few perceive,
If old assertions can't prevail,

Be pleased to hear a modern tale.

When sports went round, and all were gay, On neighbour Dobson's wedding-day, Death called aside the jocund groom,

With him into another room,

[ocr errors]

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!
Besides, in truth, I'm not prepared:
My thoughts on other matters go;
This is my wedding-night, you know."
What more he urged I have not heard;
His reasons could not well be stronger;
So Death the poor delinquent spared,
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 summoned 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 pleased the world will leave."

« PředchozíPokračovat »