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For me their petted one; or buttered toast,
When butter was forbid ; or thrilling tale
Of ghost, or witch, or murder. So I went
And sheltered me beside the parlour fire;
There my dear grandmother, eldest of all forms,
Tended the little ones, and watched from harm;
Anxiously fond, though oft her spectacles
With elfin cunning hid, and oft the pins
Drawn from her ravelled stocking might have soured
One less indulgent.
At intervals my mother's voice was heard
Urging despatch ; briskly the work went on,
All hands employed to wash, to rinse, to wring.
Or fold, and starch, and clap, and iron, and plait.
Then would I sit me down, and ponder much
Why washings were; sometimes through hollow hole
Of pipe amused we blew, and sent aloft
The floating bubbles; little dreaming then
To see, Montgolfier, thy silken ball
Ride buoyant through the clouds, so near approach
The sports of children and the toils of men.
MRS AMELIA OPIE is chiefly distinguished for her inoral tales, which are written in prose. She has written a few pieces in verse, that are marked by great sweetness and beauty. The following gem is pronounced by the Edinburgh Review one of the finest songs in the language.
Go, youth beloved, in distant glades
New friends, new hopes, new joys to find !
Yet sometimes deign, ʼmidst fairer maids,
To think on her thou leavest behind.
Thy love, thy fate, dear youth, to share,
Must never be my happy lot;
But thou mayst grant this humble prayer
Forget me not! forget me not !
Yet, should the thought of
Too painful to thy feelings be,
Heed not the wish I now express,
Nor ever deign to think on me:
But oh! if grief thy steps attend,
If want, if sickness be thy lot,
And thou require a soothing friend,
Forget me not! forget me not !
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD (1766—1823,) composed his celebrated pastoral poem, the Farmer's Boy, while pursuing his occupation as a shoemaker, in circumstances of poverty that show how little true genius is fettered by mere external condition. The following is one of his minor pieces.
My untried Muse shall no high tone assume,
Nor strut in arms— farewell my cap and plume!
Brief be my verse, a task within my power;
I tell my feelings in one happy hour:
But what an hour was that! when from the main
I reached this lovely valley once again!
A glorious harvest filled my eager sight,
Half shocked, half waving in a flood of light;
On that poor cottage roof where I was born,
The sun looked down as in life's early morn.
I gazed around, but not a soul appeared;
I listened on the threshold, nothing heard;
I called my father thrice, but no one came;
It was not fear or grief that shook my frame,
But an o'erpowering sense of peace and home,
Of toils gone by, perhaps of joys to come.
The door invitingly stood open wide;
I shook my dust, and set my staff aside.
How sweet it was to breathe that cooler air,
And take possession of my father's chair!
Beneath my elbow, on the solid frame,
Appeared the rough initials of my name,
Cut forty years before! The same old clock
Struck the same bell, and gave my heart a shock
I never can forget. A short breeze sprung,
And while a sigh was trembling on my tongue,
Caught the old dangling almanacs behind,
And up they flew like banners in the wind;
Then gently, singly, down, down, down they went,
And told of twenty years that I had spent
Far from my native land. That instant came
A robin on the threshold ; though so tame,
At first he looked distrustful, almost shy,
And cast on me his coal-black steadfast eye,
And seemed to say (past friendship to renew)
" Ah ha! old worn-out soldier, is it you ?"
Through the room ranged the imprisoned humble bee,
And bombed, and bounced, and struggled to be free;
Dashing against the panes with sullen roar,
That threw their diamond sunlight on the floor;
That floor, clean sanded, where my fancy strayed,
O'er undulating waves the broom had made ;
Reminding me of those of hideous forms
That met us as we passed the cape of storms,
Where high and loud they break, and peace comes never,
They roll and foam, and roll and foam for ever.
But here was peace, that peace which home can yield:
The grasshopper, the partridge in the field,
And ticking clock, were all at once become
The substitute for clarion, fife and drum.
While thus I mused, still gazing, gazing still,
On beds of moss that spread the window sill,
I deemed no moss my eyes had ever seen
Had been so lovely, brilliant, fresh and green,
And guessed some infant hand had placed it there,
And prized its hue so exquisite, so rare.
Feelings on feelings mingling, doubling rose;
My heart felt everything but calm repose ;
I could not reckon minutes, hours, nor years,
But rose at once, and bursted into tears;
Then, like a fool, confused, sat down again,
And thought upon the past with shame and pain ;
I raved at war and all its horrid cost,
And glory's quagmire, where the brave are lost.
On carnage, fire, and plunder long I mused,
And cursed the murdering weapons I had used.
Two shadows then I saw, two voices heard,
One bespoke age, and one a child's appeared.
In stepped my father with convulsive start,
And in an instant clasped me to his heart.
Close by him stood a little blue-eyed maid;
And stooping to the child, the old man said,
" Come hither, Nancy, kiss me once again.
This is your uncle Charles, come home from Spain."
The child approached, and with her fingers light,
Stroked my old eyes, almost deprived of sight.
But why thus spin my tale - thus tedious be?
Happy old soldier! what's the world to me!