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Now, ere sweet Summer bids its long adieu,
And winds blow keen where late the blossom grew,
The bustling day and jovial night must come,
The long-accustom'd feast of HarvEST-HOME.
No blood-stain'd victory, in story bright,
Can give the philosophic mind delight;
No triumph please while rage and death destroy:
Reflection sickens at the monstrous joy.
And where the joy, if rightly understood,
Like cheerful praise for universal good?
The soul nor check nor doubtful anguish knows,
But free and pure the grateful current flows.
Behold the sound oak table's massy frame
Bestride the kitchen tloor! the careful dame
And generous host invite their friends around,
While all that clear'd the crop, or till’d the ground,
Are guests by right of custom:--old and young;
And many a neighbouring yeoman join the throng,
With artisans that lent their dextrous aid,
When o'er each field the flaming sun-beams play'd.
Yet Plenty reigns, and from her boundless hoard,
Though not one jelly trembles on the board,
Supplies the feast with all that sense can crave;
With all that made our great forefathers brave,
Ere the cloy'd palate countless flavours tried,
And cooks had Nature's judgment set aside.
With thanks to Heaven, and tales of rustic lore,
The mansion echoes when the banquet 's o’er;
A wider circle spreads, and smiles abound
As quick the frothing horn performs its round;
Care's mortal foe; that sprightly joys imparts
To cheer the frame and elevate their hearts.
Here, fresh and brown, the hazel's produce lies
In tempting heaps, and peals of laughter rise,
And crackling Music, with the frequent Song,
Unheeded bear the midnight hour along.
Here once a year Distinction lowers its crest,
The master, servant, and the merry guest,
Are equal all; and round the happy ring
The reaper's eyes exulting glances fling,
And, warmd with gratitude, he quits his place,
With sun-burnt hands and ale-enliven'd face,
Refills the jug his honour'd host to tend,
To serve at once the master and the friend;
Proud thus to meet his smiles, to share his tale,
Ilis nuts, his conversation, and his ale.
From The Farmer's Boy : Sumner.
MISERIES OF THE POST-HORSE.
E'en sober Dobbin lifts his clumsy heels
And kicks, disdainful of the dirty wheels.
Short-sighted Dobbin !—thou canst only see
The trivial hardships that encompass thee:
Thy chains were freedom, and thy toils repose,
Could the poor post-horse tell thee all his woes;
Show thee his bleeding shoulders, and unfold
The dreadful anguish he endures for gold;
Hired at each call of business, lust, or rage,
That prompt the traveller on from stage to stage:
Still on his strength depends their boasted speed ;
For them his limbs grow weak, his bare ribs bleed;
And though he groaning quickens at command,
Their extra shilling in the rider's hand
Becomes his bitter scourge :-'tis he must feel
The double efforts of the lash and steel;
Till when, up hill, the destined inn he gains,
And trembling under complicated pains,
Prone from his nostrils, darting on the ground,
His breath emitted floats in clouds around:
Drops chase each other down his chest and sides,
And spatter'd mud his native colour hides:
Through his swoln veins the boiling torrent low,
And every nerve a separate torture knows.
His harness loosed, he welcomes eager-eyed
The pail's full draught that quivers by his side;
And joys to see the well-known stable door,
As the starved mariner the friendly shore.
Ah, well for him if here his sufferings ceased,
And ample hours of rest his pains appeased!
But roused again, and sternly bade to rise,
And shake refreshing slumber from his eyes,
Ere his exhausted spirits can return,
Or through his frame reviving ardour burn,
Come forth he must, though limping, maim’d, and
He hears the whip; the chaise is at the door :-
The collar tightens, and again he feels
His half-heal'd wounds inflamed; again the wheels
With tiresome sameness in his ears resound,
O'er blinding dust, or miles of flinty ground.
Thus nightly robb'd, and injured day by day,
His piece-meal murderers wear his life away.
From The Farmer's Boy : Winler,
THE SHEPHERD AND THE SPECTRE.
Whilst thus the loiterer's utmost stretch of soci Climbs the still clouds, or passes those that roll, And loosed Imagination soaring goes High o'er his home, and all his little woes, Time glides away; neglected Duty calls: At once from plains of light to earth he fails, And down a narrow lane, well known by day, With all his speed pursues his sounding way, In thought still half absorb'd, and chill'd with cold; When, lo! an object frightful to behold; A grisly SPECTRE, clothed in silver-grey, Around whose feet the waving shadows play, Stands in his path!—He stops, and not a breath Heaves from his heart, that sinks almost to death. Loud the owl halloos o'er his head unseen; All else is silent, dismally serene: Some prompt ejaculation whisper'd low, Yet bears him up against the threat'ning foe; And thus poor Giles, though half inclined to fly, Mutters his doubts, and strains his steadfast eye. “ 'Tis not my crimes thou com’st here to reprove; No murders stain my soul, no perjured love: If thou 'rt indeed what here thou seem'st to be, Thy dreadful mission cannot reach to me. By parents taught still to mistrust mine eyes, Still to approach each object of surprise, Lest Fancy's formful visions should deceive In moonlight paths, or glooms of falling eve, This then 's the moment when my heart should try To scan thy motionless deformity; But oh, the fearful task! yet well I know An aged ash, with many a spreading bough (Beneath whose leaves I've found a summer's bow'r, Beneath whose trunk I've weather’d many a show'r) Stands singly down this solitary way, But far beyond where now my footsteps stay. "Tis true, thus far I've come with heedless haste; No reck’ning kept, no passing objects traced :And can I then have reach'd that very tree? Or is its reverend form assumed by thee?” The happy thought alleviates his pain : He creeps another step; then stops again; Till slowly, as his noiseless feet draw near, Its perfect lineaments at once appear;
Its crown of shivering ivy whispering peace,
And its white bark that fronts the moon's pale face.
Now, whilst his blood mounts upward, now he knows
The solid gain that from conviction flows;
And strengthen'd Confidence shall hence fulfil
(With conscious Innocence more valued still)
The dreariest task that winter nights can bring,
By churchyard dark, or grove, or fairy ring:
Still buoying up the timid mind of youth,
Till loitering Reason hoists the scale of Truth.
With these blest guardians Giles his course pursues,
Till numbering his heavy-sided ewes,
Surrounding stillness tranquillize his breast,
And shape the dreams that wait his hours of rest.
From The Farmer's Boy: Winter.
Near the high road upon a winding stream
An honest Miller rose to wealth and fame:
The noblest virtues cheer'd his lengthen'd days,
And all the country echoed with his praise.
His wife, the doctress of the neighb'ring poor,
Drew constant prayers and blessings round his door.
One summer's night (the hour of rest was come)
Darkness unusual overspread their home;
A chilling blast was felt: the foremost cloud
Sprinkled the bubbling pool; and thunder loud,
Though distant yet, menaced the country round,
And fill'd the heavens with its solemn sound.
Who can retire to rest when tempests lour-
Nor wait the issue of the coming hour?
Meekly resign'd she sat, in anxious pain;
He fill’d his pipe, and listen'd to the rain
That batter'd furiously their strong abode,
Roar’d in the dam, and lash'd the pebbled road:
When, mingling with the storm, confused and wild,
They heard, or thought they heard, a screaming child:
The voice approach'd; and 'midst the thunder's roar,
Now loudly begg'd for mercy at the door.
Mercy was there: the Miller heard the call;
His door he open'd; when a sudden squall
Drove in a wretched Girl; who weeping stood,
Whilst the cold rain dripp'd from her in a flood.
With kind officiousness the tender Dame
Roused up the dying embers to a flame;
Dry clothes procured, and cheer'd her shivering guest,
And soothed the sorrows of her infant breast.
But as she stript her shoulders, lily-white,
What marks of cruel usage shock'd their sight!
Weals, and blue wounds, most piteous to behold
Upon a child yet scarcely ten years old.
The Miller felt his indignation rise,
Yet, as the weary stranger closed her eyes,
And seem’d fatigued beyond her strength and years,
“Sleep, Child,” he said, “and wipe away your tears."
They watch'd her slumbers till the storm was done;
When thus the generous man again begun:
“See, fluttering sighs that rise against her will,
And agitating dreams disturb her still!
Dame, we should know before we go to rest,
Whence comes this Girl, and how she came distrest.
Wake her, and ask; for she is sorely bruised :
I long to know by whom she's thus misused.”
Child, what's your name? how came you in the
storm? Have you no home to keep you dry and warın ? Who gave you all those wounds your shoulders show? Where are your parents? Whither would you go?"
The stranger, bursting into tears, look'd pale,
And this the purport of her artless tale.
“I have no parents, and no friends beside:
I well remember when my mother died-
My brother cried; and so did I that day;
We had no father-he was gone away.
That night we left our home new clothes to wear;
The Work-house found them; we were carried there.
We loved each other dearly; when we met
We always shared what trifles we could get.
But George was older by a year
He parted from me and was sent to sea.
“Good bye, dear Phæbe,' the poor fellow said !
Perhaps he 'll come again; perhaps he's dead.
When I grew strong enough I went to place,
My mistress had a sour ill-natured face;
And though I've been so often beat and chid,
I strove to please her, Sir; indeed, I did.
Weary and spiritless to bed I crept,
And always cried at night before I slept.
This morning I offended; and I bore
A cruel beating, worse than all before.
Unknown to all the house I ran away,
And thus far travell’d through the sultry day;