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66 PROVERBIAL PHILOSOPHY;" BEFORE PUBLICATION.
My soul's own son, dear image of my mind,
I would not without blessing send thee forth
Into the bleak wide world, whose voice unkind
Perchance will mock at thee as nothing worth;
For the cold critic's jealous eye may find
In all thy purposed good little but ill,
May taunt thy simple garb as qnaintly wrought,
And praise thee for no more than the small skill Of masqueing as thine own another's thought:
What then? count envious sneers as less than nought: Fair is thine aim, and having done thy best,
Lo, thus I bless thee; yea, thou shalt be blest!
THAT they have praised thee well, and cheered thee on
With kinder tones than critics deign to few,
Child of my thoughts, my fancy's favorite son,
Our courteous thanks, our heartfelt thanks are due.
Despise not thou thine equal's honest praise;
Yet feast not of such dainties; thou shalt rue
Their sweetness else; let rather generous pride
Those golden apples straightly spurn aside,
And gird thee all unshackled to the race:
On to the goal of honor, fair beginner,
A thousand ducats thou shalt yet be winner!
ON THE PUBLICATION OF THE SECOND EDITION OF MY
66 PROVERBIAL PHILOSOPHY."
YET once again, not after many days
Since first I dared this voyage in the dark,
Borne on the prosperous gale of good men's praise,
To the wide waters I commit mine ark,
And bid God speed thy venture, gallant bark!
For I have launched thee on a thousand prayers,
Freighted thee well with all my mind and heart,
And if some contraband error unawares,
Like Achan's wedge, lie hid in any part,
Stand it condemned, as it most justly ought;
Yet be the thinker spared, if not his thought;
For he that with an honest purpose errs,
Merits more kind excuse than the shrewd world confers
AN INCIDENT FOUNDED ON FACT.
POOR Monsieur D'Alvernon! I well remember
The day I visited his ruinous cot,
And heard the story of his fallen fortunes.
It was a fine May morning, and the flowers
Spread their fair faces to the laughing sun,
And look'd like small terrestrial stars, that eam'd
With life and joy; the merry lark was high
Careering in the heavens, and now and then
A throstle from the neighboring thicket pour'd
His musical and hearty orisons.
The cot too truly told that poverty
Found it a home with misery and scorn
No clambering jessamine, no well-train'd roses
There linger'd, like sweet charity, to hide
The rents unseemly of the plaster'd wall:
No tight-trimm'd rows of box, or daisy prim,
Mark'd a clean pathway through the miry clay,
But all around was want and cold neglect.
With curious hand (and heart that beat with warm
Benevolence) I knock'd, lifted the latch,
And in the language of his mother-land
Besought a welcome; quick with courteous phrase,
And joy unfeign'd to hear his native tongue,
He bade me enter.-'Twas a ruined hovel;
Disease and penury had done their worst
To load a wretched exile with despair,
But still with spirit unbroken he lived on,
And, with a Frenchman's national levity,
Bounded elastic from his weight of woes.
I listed long his fond garrulity,
For sympathy and confidence are aye
Each other echoes, and I won his heart
By pitying his sorrows; long he told
Of friends, and wife, and darling little ones,
Fortunes, and titles, and long-cherish'd hopes
By frenzied Revolution marr'd and crush'd ;
But oft my patience flicker'd, and my eye
Wander'd inquisitive round the murky room,
To see wherein I best might mitigate
The misery my bosom bled to view.
I sat upon his crazy couch, and there,
With many sordid rags, a roebuck's skin
Show'd sleek and mottled; swift the clear gray eye
Of the poor sufferer had mark'd my wonder,
And as in simple guise this touching tale
He told me, in the tongue my youth had lov'd,
Many a tear stole down his wrinkled cheek.
"Yon glossy skin is all that now remains To tell me that the past is not a dream!
Oft up my Château's avenue of limes,
To be caress'd in mine ancestral hall,
Poor Louis' bounded-(I had call'd him Louis
Because I lov'd my King);- my little ones
Have on his forked antlers often hung
Their garlands of spring flowers, and fed him with
Sweet heads of clover from their tiny hands.
But on a sorrowful day a random shot
Of some bold thief, or well-skill'd forester,
Struck him to death, and many a tear and sob
Were the unwritten epitaph upon him;
For children would not lose him utterly,
But prayed to have his mottled beautiful skin
A rug to their new pony-chaise, that they
Might oftener think of their lost favorite.
Aye, there it is! —that precious treasury
Of fond remembrances that glossy skin!
O thou chief solace in the wintry nights,
That warms my poor old heart, and thaws my breast
With tears of, — Mais, Monsieur, asseyez vous!"
But I had started up, and turn'd aside
To weep in solitude. -
Ан, might I but escape to some sweet spot,
Oasis of my hopes, to fancy dear,
Where rural virtues are not yet forgot,
And good old customs crown the circling year;
Where still contented peasants love their lot,
And trade's vile din offends not nature's ear,
But hospitable hearths, and welcomes warm,
To country quiet add their social charın:
Some smiling bay of Cambria's happy shore,
A wooded dingle on a mountain side,
Within the distant sound of ocean's roar,
And looking down on valley fair and wide, Nigh to the village church, to please me more Than vast cathedrals in their Gothic pride, And blest with pious pastor, who has trod Himself the way, and leads his flock to God;
"There would I dwell, for I delight therein!”
Far from the evil ways of evil men,
Untainted by the soil of others' sin,
My own repented of, and clean again:
With health and plenty crown'd, and peace within,
Choice books, and guiltless pleasures of the pen,
And mountain rambles with a welcome friend,
And dear domestic joys that never end.
There, from the flowery mead, or shingled shore,
To cull the gems that bounteous nature gave, From the rent mountain pick the brilliant ore,
Or seek the curious crystal in its cave;
And learning nature's Master to adore,
Know more of Him who came the lost to save;
Drink deep the pleasures contemplation gives,
And learn to love the meanest thing that lives.
No envious wish my fellows to excel,
No sordid money-getting cares be mine; No low ambition in high state to dwell,
Nor meanly grand among the poor to shine: But, sweet benevolence, regale me well
With those cheap pleasures and light cares of thine,
And meek-eyed piety, be always near,
With calm content, and gratitude sincere.
Rescued from cities, and forensic strife,
And walking well with God in nature's eye, Blest with fair children, and a faithful wife,
Love at my board, and friendship dwelling nigh,