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Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee;
Bid them in duty's sphere as meekly move ; And if as fair, from vanity as free;
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love. Tell them, though ’tis an awful thing to die
('Twas ev'n to thee), yet the dread path once trod, Heav'n lifts its everlasting portals high,
And bids “the pure in heart behold their God.”
ERASMUS DARWIN. 1732-1802.
Thus when the Plague, upborne on Belgian air,
Look'd through the mist, and shook his clotted hair;
O’er shrinking nations steer'd malignant clouds,
And raind destruction on the gasping crowds,
The beauteous Ægle felt the venom'd dart,
Slow rollid her eye, and feebly throbb’d her heart ;
Each fervid sigh seem'd shorter than the last,
And starting Friendship shunn'd her as she pass'd.
With weak, unsteady step the fainting maid
Seeks the cold garden's solitary shade,
Sinks on the pillowy moss her drooping head,
And prints with lifeless limbs her leafy bed.
On wings of love her plighted swain pursues,
Shades her from winds, and shelters her from dews,
Extends on tapering poles the canvass roof,
Spreads o'er the straw-wove mat the flaxen woof,
Sweet buds and blossoms on her bolster strows,
And binds his kerchief round her aching brows;
Sooths with soft kiss, with tender accents charms,
And clasps the bright infection in his arms.
With pale and languid smiles, the grateful fair
Applauds his virtues and rewards his care ;
Mourns with wet cheek her fair companions fled .
On timorous step, or number'd with the dead ;
Calls to her bosom all its scatter'd rays,
And pours on Thyrsis the collected blaze;
Braves the chill night, caressing and caress'd,
And folds her hero-lover to her
Less bold, Leander at the dusky hour
Eyed, as he swam, the far love-lighted tower;
Breasted with struggling arms the tossing wave,
And sunk benighted in the watery grave.
Less bold, Tobias claim'd the nuptial bed
Where seven fond lovers by a fiend had bled ;
And drove, instructed by his angel-guide,
The enamour'd demon from the fatal bride.
Sylphs! while your winnowing pinions fann'd the
And shed gay visions o’er the sleeping pair, [air,
Love round their couch effused his rosy breath,
And with his keener arrows conquer'd Death.
On thou, the nymph with placid eye !
Oh seldom found, yet ever nigh!
Receive my temperate vow:
Not all the storms that shake the pole
Can e'er disturb thy halcyon soul,
And smooth unalter'd brow.
Oh come, in simple vest array'd,
With all thy sober cheer display'd,
To bless my longing sight;
Thy mien composed, thy even pace,
Thy meek regard, thy matron grace,
And chaste subdued delight.
No more by varying passions beat,
Oh gently guide my pilgrim feet
To find thy hermit cell ;
Where in some pure and equal sky,
Beneath thy soft indulgent eye,
The modest virtues dwell.
Simplicity in Attic vest,
And Innocence with candid breast,
And clear, undaunted eye;
And Hope, who points to distant years,
Fair opening through this vale of tears
A vişta to the sky.
There Health, through whose calm bosom glide
The temperate joys in even tide,
That rarely ebb or flow;
And Patience there, thy sister meek,
Presents her inild, unvarying cheek
To meet the offer'd blow.
Her influence taught the Phrygian sage
A tyrant master's wanton rage
With settled smiles to meet :
Inured to toil and bitter bread,
He bow'd his meek, submitted head,
And kiss'd thy sainted feet.
But thou, oh nymph retired and coy!
In what brown hamlet dost thou joy
To tell thy tender tale ?
The lowliest children of the ground,
Mossrose and violet blossom round,
And lily of the vale.
Oh say what soft propitious hour
I best may choose to hail thy power,
And court thy gentle sway?
When Autumn, friendly to the Muse,
Shall thy own modest tints diffuse,
And shed thy milder day. When Eve, her dewy star beneath,
Thy baliny spirit loves to breatha, VOL. II.G
And every storm is laid :
If such an hour was e'er thy choice,
Oft let me hear thy soothing voice
Low whispering through the shade.
Sweet daughter of a rough and stormy sire,
Hoar Winter's blooming child, delightful Spring!
Whose unshorn locks with leaves
And swelling buds are crown'd; From the green islands of eternal youth, Crown'd with fresh blooms and ever-springing shade,
Turn, hither turn thy step,
Oh thou, whose powerful voice
More sweet than softest touch of Doric reed,
Or Lydian flute, can sooth the madding wind;
And through the stormy deep
Breathe thine own tender calm.
Thee, best beloved ! the virgin train await
With songs and festal rites, and joy to rove
Thy blooming wilds among,
And vales and dewy lawns,
With untired feet; and cull thy earliest sweets
To weave fresh garlands for the glowing brow
Of him, the favour'd youth
That prompts their whisper'd sigh. Unlock thy copious stores--those tender showers That drop their sweetness on the infant buds ;
And silent dews that swell
The milky ear's green stem,
And feed the flowering osier's early shoots ;
And call those winds which through the whispering
With warm and pleasant breath [boughs,
Salute the blowing flowers.
Now let me sit beneath the whitening thorn, And mark thy spreading tints steal o'er the dale ;
And watch with patient eye
Thy fair unfolding charms. Oh nymph, approach! while yet the temperate sun, With bashful forehead through the cold moist air
Throws his young maiden beams,
And with chaste kisses woos
The earth's fair bosom; while the streaming veil
Of lucid clouds, with kind and frequent shade,
Protects thy modest blooms
From his severer blaze.
Sweet is thy reign, but short: the red dog-star Shall scorch thy tresses, and the mower's scythe
Thy greens, thy flow'rets all,
Remorseless shall destroy.
Reluctant shall I bid thee then farewell ;
For oh, not all that Autumn's lap contains,
Nor Summer's ruddiest fruits
Can aught for thee atone,
Fair Spring! whose simplest promise more delights
Than all their largest wealth, and through the heart
Each joy and newborn hope
With softest influence breathes.
WILLIAM COWPER. 1731-1800.
ON THE RECEIPT OF MY MOTHER'S PICTURE. Oh that those lips had language! Life has pass'd With me but roughly since I heard thee last. Those lips are thine : thy own sweet smile I see, The same that oft in childhood solaced me;