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With blindness linked, did on my vitals fall ; Ah ! how unlike those late terrific sleeps,
And, after many interruptions short of racking famine spoke ;
Of hideous sense, I sank, nor step could crawl : The unburied dead that lay in festering heaps,
Unsought for was the help that did my life recal. The breathing pestilence that rose like smoke, The shriek that from the distant battle broke,
Borne to a hospital, I lay with brain
Drowsy and weak, and shattered memory ;
I heard my neighbours in their beds complain tossed,
Of feet still bustling round with busy glee, Hope died, and fear itself in agony was lost !
Of looks where common kindness had no part,
Of service done with cold formality, Some mighty gulf of separation past,
Fretting the fever round the languid heart, I seemed transported to another world ;
And groans which, as they said, might make a dead
man start. A thought resigned with pain, when from the
mast The impatient mariner the sail unfurled,
These things just served to stir the slumbering And, whistling, called the wind that hardly curled sense, The silent sea. From the sweet thoughts of home Nor pain nor pity in my bosom raised. And from all hope I was for ever hurled.
With strength did memory return ; and, thence For me-farthest from earthly port to roam
Dismissed, again on open day I gazed,
The lanes I sought, and, as the sun retired,
The travellers saw me weep, my fate inquired, And oft I thought (my fancy was so strong)
And gave me food-and rest, more welcome, more That I, at last, a resting-place had found ;
desired. Here will I dwell,' said 1,‘my whole life long, Roaming the illimitable waters round; Here will I live, of all but heaven disowned, Rough potters seemed they, trading soberly And end my days upon the peaceful flood.?-- With panniered asses driven from door to door ; To break my dream the vessel reached its bound ;
But life of happier sort set forth to me, And homeless near a thousand homes I stood,
And other joys my fancy to allureAnd near a thousand tables pined and wanted The bag-pipe dinning on the the midnight moor food.
In barn uplighted ; and companions boon,
Among the forest glades, while jocund June
Rolled fast along the sky his warm and genial Was hopeless, as if cast on some bare rock ; Nor morsel to my mouth that day did lift, Nor raised my hand at any door to knock.
But ill they suited me—those journeys dark I lay where, with his drowsy mates, the cock
O’er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch! From the cross-timber of an out-house hung :
To charm the surly house-dog's faithful bark, Dismally tolled, that night, the city clock ! At morn my sick heart hunger scarcely stung,
Or hang on tip-toe at the lifted latch. Nor to the beggar's language could I fit my The black disguise, the warning whistle shrill,
The gloomy lantern, and the dim blue match, tongue.
And ear still busy on its nightly watch,
Were not for me, brought up in nothing ill : So passed a second day ; and, when the third Besides, on griefs so fresh my thoughts were broodWas come, I tried in vain the crowd's resort.
ing still. ---In deep despair, by frightful wishes stirred,
And kindred of dead husband are at best
A woman stood with quivering lips and pale, With little kindness would to me incline.
And, pointing to a little child that lay Nor was I then for toil or service fit;
Stretched on the ground, began a piteous tale ; My deep-drawn sighs no effort could confine ;
How in a simple freak of thoughtless play air forgetful would I sit
He had provoked his father, who straightway, Whole hours, with idle arms in moping sorrow As if each blow were deadlier than the last, knit.
Struck the poor innocent. Pallid with dismay XLIX.
The Soldier's Widow heard and stood aghast ;
His voice with indignation rising high
Such further deed in manhood's name forbade ; But what afflicts my peace with keenest ruth, Is that I have my inner self abused,
The peasant, wild in passion, made reply Foregone the home delight of constant truth,
With bitter insult and revilings sad ; And clear and open soul, so prized in fearless
Asked him in scorn what business there he had ;
What kind of plunder he was hunting now; youth.
The gallows would one day of him be glad ;
Though inward anguish damped the Sailor's brow, Through tears the rising sun I oft have viewed,
Yet calm he seemed as thoughts so poignant would Through tears have seen him towards that world
allow. descend Where my poor heart lost all its fortitude : Three years a wanderer now my course I bend-- Softly he stroked the child, who lay outstretched Oh ! tell me whither—for no earthly friend With face to earth ; and, as the boy turned round Have I.”—She ceased, and weeping turned away ; His battered head, a groan the Sailor fetched As if because her tale was at an end,
As if he saw—there and upon that groundShe wept ; because she had no more to say Strange repetition of the deadly wound Of that perpetual weight which on her spirit lay. He had himself inflicted. Through his brain
At once the griding iron passage found ;
Deluge of tender thoughts then rushed amain, True sympathy the Sailor's looks expressed,
Nor could his sunken eyes the starting tear restrain. His looks—for pondering he was mute the while. Of social Order's care for wretchedness, Of Time's sure help to calm and reconcile,
Within himself he said-What hearts have we ! Joy's second spring and Hope's long-treasured The blessing this a father gives his child ! smile,
Yet happy thou, poor boy ! compared with me, 'Twas not for him to speak—a man so tried. Suffering not doing ill—fate far more mild. Yet, to relieve her heart, in friendly style
The stranger's looks and tears of wrath beguiled Proverbial words of comfort he applied,
The father, and relenting thoughts awoke ; And not in vain, while they went pacing side by He kissed his son-so all was reconciled. side.
Then, with a voice which inward trouble broke
Ere to his lips it came, the Sailor them bespoke. Ere long, from heaps of turf, before their sight, Together smoking in the sun's slant beam, Rise various wreaths that into one unite
“ Bad is the world, and hard is the world's law Which high and higher mounts with silver gleam : Even for the man who wears the warmest fleece ; Fair spectacle,- but instantly a scream
Much need have ye that time more closely draw Thence bursting shrill did all remark prevent ; The bond of nature, all unkindness cease, They paused, and heard a hoarser voice blaspheme, And that among so few there still be peace : And female cries. Their course they thither bent, Else can ye hope but with such numerous foes And met a man who foamed with anger vehement.
Your pains shall ever with your years increase ?”
While from his heart the appropriate lesson flows, Why thus that worn-out wretch must there sustain A correspondent calm stole gently o'er his woes. The jolting road and morning air severe.
The wain pursued its way; and following near
In pure compassion she her steps retraced Forthwith the pair passed on ; and down they look Far as the cottage. “A sad sight is here,” Into a narrow valley's pleasant scene
She cried aloud ; and forth ran out in haste Where wreaths of vapour tracked a winding brook, The friends whom she had left but a few minutes That babbled on through groves and meadows past.
green ; A low-roofed house peeped out the trees between ; While to the door with eager speed they ran,
LXII. The dripping groves resound with cheerful lays,
From her bare straw the Woman half upraised And melancholy lowings intervene Of scattered herds, that in the meadow graze,
Her bony visage-gaunt and deadly wan ;
With a dim eye, distracted and amazed ;
Fervently cried the housewife_“God be praised,
So in they bear her to the chimney seat, Erelong they reached that cottage in the dale :
And busily, though yet with fear, untie It was a rustic inn ;-the board was spread, Her garments, and, to warm her icy feet The milk-maid followed with her brimming pail,
And chafe her temples, careful hands apply. And lustily the master carved the bread, Nature reviving, with a deep-drawn sigh Kindly the housewife pressed, and they in comfort She strove, and not in vain, her head to rear ; fed.
Then said—“ I thank you all; if I must die,
The God in heaven my prayers for you will hear; Their breakfast done, the pair, though loth, must Till now I did not think my end had been so near.
part; Wanderers whose course no longer now agrees.
Lxv. She rose and bade farewell ! and, while her heart “ Barred every comfort labour could procure, Struggled with tears nor could its sorrow ease, Suffering what no endurance could assuage, She left him there ; for, clustering round his knees, I was compelled to seek my father's door, With his oak-staff the cottage children played ; Though loth to be a burthen on his age. And soon she reached a spot o'erhung with trees But sickness stopped me in an early stage And banks of ragged earth ; beneath the shade Of my sad journey ; and within the wain Across the pebbly road a little runnel strayed. They placed me—there to end life's pilgrimage,
Unless beneath your roof I may remain :
For I shall never see my father's door again.
“ My life, Heaven knows, hath long been burthenAs the wain fronted her,-wherein lay one,
some ; A pale-faced Woman, in disease far gone.
But, if I have not meekly suffered, meek The carman wet her lips as well behoved ;
May my end be ! Soon will this voice be dumb : Bed under her lean body there was none, Should child of mine e'er wander hither, speak Though even to die near one she most had loved
Of me, say that the worm is on my cheek.She could not of herself those wasted limbs have Torn from our hut, that stood beside the sea moved.
Near Portland lighthouse in a lonesome creek, Lan.
My husband served in sad captivity The Soldier's Widow learned with honest pain On shipboard, bound till peace or death should set And homefelt force of sympathy sincere,
“ A sailor's wife I knew a widow's cares,
She slept in peace,—his pulses throbbed and stopped, Yet two sweet little ones partook my bed ; Breathless he gazed upon her face,-then took Hope cheered my dreams, and to my daily prayers Her hand in his, and raised it, but both dropped, Our heavenly Father granted each day's bread ;
When on his own he cast a rueful look. Till one was found by stroke of violence dead, His ears were never silent; sleep forsook Whose body near our cottage chanced to lie ; His burning eyelids stretched and stiff as lead; A dire suspicion drove us from our shed; All night from time to time under him shook In vain to find a friendly face we try,
The floor as he lay shuddering on his bed ; Nor could we live together those poor boys and I ; And oft he groaned aloud, "O God, that I were
dead !" LXVI. “For evil tongues made oath how on that day The Soldier's Widow lingered in the cot; My husband lurked about the neighbourhood ;
And, when he rose, he thanked her pious care Now he had fled, and whither none could say, Through which his Wife, to that kind shelter And he had done the deed in the dark wood
brought, Near his own home !-but he was mild and good ; Died in his arms; and with those thanks a prayer Never on earth was gentler creature seen ; He breathed for her, and for that merciful pair. He'd not have robbed the raven of its food.
The corse interred, not one hour he remained My husband's loving kindness stood between Beneath their roof, but to the open air Me and all worldly harms and wrongs however A burthen, now with fortitude sustained, keen.”
He bore within a breast where dreadful quiet
reigned. Alas ! the thing she told with labouring breath The Sailor knew too well. That wickedness Confirmed of purpose, fearlessly prepared His hand had wrought ; and when, in the hour of For act and suffering, to the city straight death,
He journeyed, and forthwith his crime declared : He saw his Wife's lips move his name to bless “ And from your doom,” he added, “ now I wait, With her last words, unable to suppress
Nor let it linger long, the murderer's fate.” His anguish, with his heart he ceased to strive; Not ineffectual was that piteous claim : And, weeping loud in this extreme distress, “ () welcome sentence which will end though late," He cried—“Do pity me! That thou shouldst live He said, “ the pangs that to my conscience came I neither ask nor wish—forgive me, but forgive !” Out of that deed. My trust, Saviour ! is in thy
To tell the change that Voice within her wrought
His fate was pitied. Him in iron case
ELDRED, a Peasant.
Peasant, Pilgrims, &c.
ELEANOR, Wife to ELDRED.
SCENE, Borders of England and Scotland.
TIME, the Reign of Henry III. READERs already acquainted with my Poems will recognise, in the following composition, some eight or ten lines, which I have not scrupled to retain in the places where they originally stood. It is proper however to add, that they would not have been used elsewhere, if I had foreseen the time when I might be induced to publish this Tragedy.
February 28, 1842.
SCENE, road in a Wood.
WALLACE and LACY.
Rather let us grieve
I have heard
Lacy. Where he despised alike
Enter MARMADUKE and WILFRED.
Your busy fancies, Wilfred,
Wil. You know that you have saved his life.
I know it.
Fy! no more of it.
I do more,