Page images
PDF

But roused, as if through every limb
Had passed a sudden shock of dread,
The mother o'er the threshold flies,
And up the cottage stairs she hies,
And to the pillow gives her burning head.

And Peter turns his steps aside
Into a shade of darksome trees,
Where he sits down, he knows not how,
With his hands pressed against his brow,
His elbows on his tremulous knees.

There, self-involved, does Peter sit
Until no sign of life he makes,
As if his mind were sinking deep
Through years that have been long asleep!
The trance is passed away–he wakes-

He lifts his head-and sees the ass
Yet standing in the clear moonshine.
“When shall I be as good as thou?
Oh! would, poor beast, that I had now
A heart but half as good as thine!”

But he-who deviously hath sought
His father through the lonesome woods,
Hath sought, proclaiming to the ear
Of night his inward grief and fear-
He comes-escaped from fields and floods :-

With weary pace is drawing nigh-
He sees the ass--and nothing living
Had ever such a fit of joy
As hath this little orphan boy,
For he has no misgiving !

Towards the gentle ass he springs, And up about his neck he climbs; In loving words he talks to him, He kisses, kisses face and limb,He kisses him a thousand times !

This Peter sees, while in the shade
He stood beside the cottage door:
And Peter Bell, the ruffian wild,
Sobs loud, he sobs even like a child,
“Oh! God, I can endure no more!"

Here ends my tale :--for in a trice Arrived a neighbour with his horse : Peter went forth with him straightway; And, with due care, ere break of day Together they brought back the corse.

And many years did this poor ass,
Whom once it was my luck to see
Cropping the shrubs of Leming Lane,
Help by his labour to maintain
The widow and her family.

And Peter Bell, who, till that night, Has been the wildest of his clan, Forsook his crimes, repressed his folly, And after ten months' melancholy, Became a good and honest man.

MEMORIALS OF TOURS IN

SCOTLAND.

TO THE SONS OF BURNS, AFTER VISITING THE GRAVE OF THEIR FATHER,

crowded obelisks and urns,
- I sought the untimely grave of Burns;
Sons of the bard, my heart still mourns

With sorrow true;
And more would grieve, but that it turns

Trembling to you!

Through twilight shades of good and ill
Ye now are panting up life's hill,
And more than common strength and skill

Must ye display,
If ye would give the better will

Its lawful sway.

Hath Nature strung your nerves to bear
Intemperance with less harm, beware!
But if the poet's wit ye share,

Like him can speed
The social hour-for tenfold care

There will be need.

Beside the woman Peter stands :
His heart is opening more and more;
A holy sense pervades his mind;
He feels what he for human kind
Had never felt before.

At length, by Peter's arm sustained,
The woman rises from the ground-
“Oh, mercy! something must be done,
My little Rachel, you must run,
Some willing neighbour must be found.

“Make haste-my little Rachel-do,
The first you meet with-bid him come-
Ask him to lend his horse to night-
And this good man, whom heaven requite,
Will help to bring the body home."

Away goes Rachel, weeping loud;
An infant, waked by her distress,
Makes in the house a piteous cry,
And Peter hears the mother sigh,
“Seven are they, and all fatherless !"

And now is Peter taught to feel
That man's heart is a holy thing;
And Nature, through a world of death,
Breathes into him a second breath,
More searching than the breath of spring.

Upon a stone the woman sits
In agony of silent grief-
From his own thoughts did Peter start;
He longs to press her to his heart,
From love that cannot find relief.

But roused, as if through every limb
Had passed a sudden shock of dread,
The mother o'er the threshold flies,
And up the cottage stairs she hies,
And to the pillow gives her burning head.

And Peter turns his steps aside
Into a shade of darksome trees,
Where he sits down, he knows not how,
With his hands pressed against his brow,
His elbows on his tremulous knees.

There, self-involved, does Peter sit
Until no sign of life he makes,
As if his mind were sinking deep
Through years that have been long asleep!
The trance is passed away—he wakes-

[ocr errors]

But hewho deviously hath sought
His father through the lonesome woods,
Hath sought, proclaiming to the ear
Of night his inward grief and fear-
He comes-escaped from fields and floods:

With weary pace is drawing nigh--
He sees the ass—and nothing living
Had ever such a fit of joy
As hath this little orphan boy,
For he has no misgiving !

« PreviousContinue »