Obrázky stránek

Mrs. Piozzi.



HE 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
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,

And, looking grave, "You must," says he,

[ocr errors]

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."
To these conditions both consented,
And parted perfectly contented.

What next the hero of our tale befell,
How long he lived, how wisely well;
How roundly he pursued his course,
And smoked his pipe, and stroked his horse,
The willing muse shall tell :

He chaffered, then he bought, he sold,
Nor once perceived his growing old,

Nor thought of Death as near;
His friends not false, his wife no shrew,
Many his gains, his children few,
He passed his smiling hours in peace;
And still he viewed his wealth increase.
While thus along life's dusty road
The beaten track content he trod,

Old Time, whose haste no mortal spares,
Uncalled, unheeded, unawares,

Brought on his eightieth year.

When lo! one night, in musing mood,

As all alone he sate,

The unwelcome messenger of fate

Once more before him stood.

Half-killed with anger and surprise,
"So soon returned ?" old Dobson cries.
"So soon, d'ye call it ?" Death replies :
"Surely, my friend, you're but in jest ;
Since I was here before,

"Tis six-and-thirty years at least,

And you are now fourscore."

"So much the worse," the clown rejoined; "To spare the aged would be kind:

Besides, you promised me Three Warnings, Which I have looked for nights and mornings: And for that loss of time and ease,

I can recover damages.'


[ocr errors]

I know," says Death, "that, at the best,
I seldom am a welcome guest;

But don't be captious, friend, at least;
I little thought you'd still be able
To stump about your farm and stable;
Your years have run to a great length—
I wish you joy, though, of your strength."


"Hold," says the farmer;


not so fast; I have been lame these four years past."

"And no great wonder," Death replies; 66 However, you still keep your eyes; And sure to see one's loves and friends, For legs and arms may make amends."

Dobson," so it might,

"Perhaps," says Dobson,

But latterly I've lost my sight."

"This is a shocking tale, in truth;

Yet there's some comfort still," says Death;
"Each strives your sadness to amuse;

I warrant you hear all the news."
"There's none," he cries;
I'm grown so deaf I could not hear.”

“and, if there were,

"Nay then," the spectre stern rejoined,

“These are unjustifiable yearnings;
If you are lame, and deaf, and blind,
You've had your three sufficient warnings;
So come along, no more we'll part :"
He said, and touched him with his dart.
And now old Dobson, turning pale,
Yields to his fate-so ends my tale.

William Wordsworth.



[blocks in formation]

Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired;
And from th' infernal gods, 'mid shades forlorn
Of night, my slaughtered lord have I required:
Celestial pity I again implore ;-

Restore him to my sight-great Jove, restore!"

So speaking, and by fervent love endowed

With faith, the suppliant heavenward lifts her hands; While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,

Her count'nance brightens and her eye expands; Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows; And she expects the issue in repose.


O terror! what hath she perceived?—O joy!
What doth she look on ?-whom doth she behold?
Her hero slain upon the beach of Troy?

His vital presence? his corporeal mould?

It is if sense deceive her not 'tis he!

And a god leads him-winged Mercury!

Mild Hermes spake—and touched her with his wand
That calms all fear: "Such grace hath crowned thy


Laodamia! that at Jove's command

Thy husband walks the paths of upper air;

He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space;

Accept the gift, behold him face to face!"

« PředchozíPokračovat »