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With curious eye had view'd him o'er,
Had mark'd the tatter'd garb he wore,
And through the yawning frieze had seen
No traces of a shirt within.
And now her hands with pious care
A fhirt of home-spun cloth prepare :
'Twas coarse, but would the longer hold,
And serve to fence him from the cold.
The toil employ'd her all the night,
And ended with the rifing light.
The priest arose at break of day,
And haften'd to pursue his way ;
With thanks he took the finish'd veft,
The hospitable dame he blefs’d,
“ And that thy charity, he faid,
“ May fall with int'reft on thy head,
“ May thy first work, when I am gone,
" Continue 'till the setting fun.”
She heard; but foon her houshold care
Had banish'd from her thoughts the pray'r ;
The remnant of her cloth the took,
And measur'd out her little stock.
Beneath her hands the length’ning piece
Surpriz'd her with a vast increase ;
Astonish'd at a fight so new,
She measur'd still and still it grew.
As when in sleep, with winged pace
O’er hills and plains we urge the race,
With eager hopes we onward bend,
And think our labour near its end ;
But mimick Fancy foon supplies
New scenes to cheat our wond'ring eyes :
Before our feet new plains extend,
New vallies fink, new hills ascend,
And still the goal, when these are o'er,
Appears as distant as before.
In such a dream with such furprize,
From morn to eve the woman plies
Her task; but when the setting ray
Had clos'd her labour with the day,
With joy the wond'rous heap survey'd,
And saw her bounty well repay'd.
A neighb'ring dame, the story known,
Much wish'd to make the case her own ;
For tho’ fhe ne'er was seen before
To lodge the stranger or the poor,
She wisely thought on one so good
Her charity were well bestow'd.
As by her door his journey lay,
She stop'd the trav'ler his
Beg'd him to enter and receive
Such welcome as her house could give :
The priest comply'd, and ent’ring found
The board with various plenty crown'd;
On heaps of down he past the night,
And slumber'd 'till the morning light.
At break of day the dame address'd
In friendly guife her rev'rend guest : 1691)
Linen fo coarse, she said, was ne'er
Design'd for Christian backs to wear;
And as it griev'd her to furvey
Such virtue in so mean array,
Herself had toild with sleepless eyes
To furnish him with fresh supplies':
Fine was the texture, such as comes
From wealthy Holland's skilful looms.
The priest accepts the proffer'd boon,
He thanks her for her kindness fhown,
And grateful as he leaves her door,
Repeats the pray’r he made before.
Just parted from the holy man,
With eager hafte the matron ran
To reach her cloth, and had design'd
To measure what was left behind ;
But thinking first, that as the pray'r
For the whole day had fix'd her care,
One labour would employ it all,
And leave no time for Nature's call,
Ere to the destin'd work she goes,
She deems it best to pluck a rose.
The hissing geese, as forth the went,
Gave omens of the dire event;
The herds, that graz'd the neighb’ring plain,
Look'd up, and snuff’d the coming rain;
The bird that screams at midnight hours,
(Diviner of approaching Show'rs)
Full on the left, with hideous croak,
Stood flutt'ring on a blasted oak.,
Amazement seiz'd the trembling dame,
When first she faw the plenteous stream:
She wonder'd much, and much fhe fear'd;
And think how Niobe appear'd,
When chang'd into a rock she stood,
And at her feet the headlong flood,
With downward force impetuous ran,
High foaming, o'er the delug'd plain ;
So look'd the dame, when all around
The torrent smoak'd
Still spreading wider than before,
It seem'd a sea without a fhore.
Your bards that wrote in heathen days,
Had such a theme employ'd their lays,
Had tortur'd their inventive brain,
With dire portents to fill the ftrain;
Had bid the neighb'ring river mourn
His alter'd stream and tainted urn;
Or made the Naiads lift their heads,
Aftonish'd from their wat’ry beds,
And, feated on the river's side,
Squeeze from their locks the briny tide.
But little skill'd in Pagan lore;
I pass fach idle fancies o’er:
Truth is my care, whose lovely face
Shines brightest in the plainest dress.
At eve the torrent stopt its course;
Stung with vexation and remorfe ;
The dame laments her fruitless cost,
Her hopes deceiv'd, her labour loft.
Nor think that here her fuff'rings end,
Reproach and infamy attend;
Surrounding boys, where-e'er the came,
With insults loud divulge her Thame;
And farmers stop her with demands
Of recompence for damag'd lands.
H°Alas? How quickly done!
ow short is life's uncertain space!
How swift the wild precarious chace !
how difficult the race !
hard to run!
Youth stops at first its wilful ears
To Wisdom's prudent voice;
'Till now arriv'd to riper years,
Experienc'd age worn out with cares
Repents its earlier choice.