« PreviousContinue »
Or if, absorb’d by their peculiar cares,
The vacant eye on viewless matter glares,
Our feelings still upon our views attend,
And their own natures to the objects lend ;
Sorrow and joy are in their influence sure,
Long as the passion reigns th' effects endure :
But Love in minds his various changes makes,
And clothes each object with the change he takes ;
His light and shade o'er every view he throws,
And on each object what he feels bestows.
Fair was the morning, and the month was June,
When rose a lover-love awakens soon;
Brief his repose, yet much he dreamt the while
Of that day's meeting, and his Laura's smile;
Fancy and love, that name assign’d to ber,
Callid Susan in the parish register ;
And he no more was John,-his Laura gave
The name Orlando to her faithful slave.
Bright shone the glory of the rising day,
When the fond trav’ller took his favourite way ;
He mounted gaily, felt his bosom light,
And all he saw was pleasing to his sight.
- Ye hours of expectation, quickly fly,
And bring on hours of blest reality,
When I shall Laura see, beside her stand,
Hear her sweet voice, and press her yielded hand.'
First o'er a barren heath beside the coast,
Orlando rode, and joy began to boast.
“This neat low gorse,' said he,' with golden bloom,
Delights each sense, is beauty, is perfume ;
And this gay ling, with all its purple flowers,
A man at leisure might admire for hours;
This green-fringed cup-moss bas a scarlet tip,
That yields to nothing but my Laura's lip;
And then how fine this herbage !--men may say
A heath is barren—nothing is so gay :
Barren or bare to call such charming scene,
Argues a mind possess’d by care and spleen.'
Onward he went, and fiercer grew the heat,
Dust rose in clouds before the horse's feet ;
-For now he pass'd through lanes of burning sand,
Bounds to thin crops, or yet uncultured land,
Where the dark poppy flourish'd on the dry
And sterile soil, and mock’d the thin-set rye.
• How lovely this !' the rapt Orlando said, -
* With what delight is labouring man repaid !
The very lane has sweets that all admire,
The rambling suckling and the vigorous briar;
See wholesome wormwood grows beside the way,
Where, dew-press’d yet, the dog-rose bends the spray;
Fresh herbs the fields, fair shrubs the banks adorn,
And snow-white bloom falls flaky from the thorn :
No fostering hand they need, no sheltering wall,-
They spring uncultured, and they bloom for all.'
The lover rode as hasty lovers ride,
And reach'd a common pasture wild and wide :
Small black-legg'd sheep devour with hunger keen
The meagre herbage, fleshless, lank, and lean ;-
Such o'er thy level turf, Newmarket, stray,
And there, with other black-legs, find their prey.
He saw some scatter'd hovels ; turf was piled
In square brown stacks, a prospect bleak and wild !
A mill, indeed, was in the centre found,
With short sear herbage withering all around ;
A smith's black shed opposed a wright's long shop,
And joiu'd an inn where humble travellers stop.
Ay, this is Nature,' said the gentle squire ;
• This ease, peace, pleasure—who would not admire ?
With what delight these sturdy children play,
And joyful rustics at the close of day!
Sport follows labour, on this even space
Will soon commence the wrestling and the race:
Then will the village maidens leave their home,
And to the dance with buoyant spirits come ;
No affectation in their looks is seen,
Nor know they what disguise or flattery mean;
Nor aught to move an envious pang they see,
Easy their service, and their love is free.
Thence early springs that love--it long endures,
And life's first comfort, while they live, ensures :
They the low roof and rustic comforts prize,
Nor cast on prouder mansions envying eyes.
Sometimes the news at yonder town they hear,
And learn what busier mortals feel and fear,
Secure themselves, although by tales amazed,
Of towns bombarded and of cities razed ;
As if they doubted in their still retreat
The very news that makes their quiet sweet,
And their days happy. Happier only knows
He on whom Laura her regard bestows.'
On rode Orlando, counting all the while
The miles he pass'd, and every coming mile ;
Like all attracted things, he quicker flies,
The place approaching where the attraction lies ;
When next appear'd a dam—so call’d the place
Where lies a road confined in narrow space,
A work of labour, for on either side
Is level fen, a prospect wild and wide,
With dykes on either hand, by Ocean's self supplied :
Far on the right the distant sea is seen,
And salt the springs that feed the marsh between ;
Beneath an ancient bridge, the straiten’d flood
Rolls through its sloping banks of slimy mud;
Near it a sunken boat resists the tide,
That frets and hurries to th’ opposing side;
The rushes sharp that on the borders grow,
Bend their brown flow'rets to the streams below,
Impure in all its course, in all its progress slow :
Here a grave Flora scarcely deigns to bloom,
Nor wears a rosy blush, nor sheds perfume ;
The few dull flowers that o'er the place are spread,
Partake the nature of their fenny bed ;
Here on its wiry stem, in rigid bloom,
Grows the salt lavender that lacks perfume ;
Here the dwarf sallows creep, the septfoil harsh,
And the soft slimy mallow of the marsh ;
Low on the ear the distant billows sound,
And just in view appears their stony bound;
No hedge nor tree conceals the glowing sun ;
Birds, save a watery tribe, the district shun,
Nor chirp among the reeds, where bitter waters run.
• Various as beauteous, Nature, is thy face !' Exclaim'd Orlando ; all that grows has
grace; All are appropriate,-bog, and marsh, and fen, Are only poor to undiscerning men ;
Here may the nice and curious eye explore
How Nature's hand adorns the rushy moor ;
Here the rare moss in secret shade is found,
Here the sweet myrtle of the shaking ground:
Beauties are these that from the view retire,
But well repay th' attention they require ;
For these, my Laura will her home forsake,
And all the pleasures they afford partake.'
Again the country was enclosed ; a wide
And sandy road has banks on either side,
Where, lo! a hollow on the left appear’d,
And there a gipsy tribe their tent had rear'd.
'Twas open spread to catch the morning sun,
And they had now their early meal begun,
When two brown boys just left their grassy seat,
The early trav’ller with their prayers to greet.
While yet Orlando held his pence in hand,
He saw their sister on her duty stand ;
Some twelve years old, demure, affected, sly,
Prepared the force of early powers to try:
Sudden a look of languor he descries,
And well-feign'd apprehension in her eyes ;
Train’d, but yet savage, in her speaking face,
He mark'd the features of her vagrant race;
When a light laugh and roguish leer express'd
The vice implanted in her youthful breast.
Forth from the tent her elder brother came,
Who seem'd offended, yet forbore to blame
The young designer, but could only trace
The looks of pity in the trav’ller's face :
Within, the father, who, from fences nigh,
Had brought the fuel for the fire's supply,
Watch'd now the feeble blaze, and stood dejected by :
On ragged rug, just borrow'd from the bed,
And by the hand of coarse indulgence fed,
In dirty patchwork negligently dress’d,
Reclined the wife, an infant at her breast ;-
In her wild face some touch of grace remain'd,
Of vigour palsied, and of beauty stain'd;
Her bloodshot eyes on her unheeding mate
Were wrathful turn'd, and seem'd her wants to state,
Cursing his tardy aid. Her mother, there,
With gipsy state, engross'd the only chair :
Solemn and dull her look; with such she stands,
And reads the milkmaid's fortune in her hands,
Tracing the lines of life : assumed through years,
Each feature now the steady falsehood wears ;
With hard and savage eye she views the food,
And, grudging, pinches their intruding brood.
Last in the group, the worn-out grandsire sits
Neglected, lost, and living but by fits;
Useless, despised, his worthless labours done,
And half protected by the vicious son,
Who half supports him. He, with heavy glance,
Views the young ruffians who around him dance;
And by the sadness of his face, appears
To trace the progress of their future years ;
Through what strange course of misery, vice, deceit,
Must wildly wander each unpractised cheat ;
What shame and grief, what punishment and pain,
Sport of fierce passions, must each child sustain
Ere they, like him, approach their latter end,
Without a hope, a comfort, or a friend !
But this Orlando felt not. • Rogues,' said he,
• Doubtless they are, but merry rogues they be:
They wander round the land, and, be it true,
They break the laws, then let the laws pursue
The wanton idlers ; for the life they live,
Acquit I cannot, but I can forgive.'
This said, a portion from his purse was thrown,
And every heart seem'd happy like his own.
He burried forth, for now the town was nigh, • The happiest man of mortal men am I !' Thou art! but change in every state is near, (So while the wretched hope, the bless'd may fear ;) · Say, where is Laura ?'—' That her words must show,' A lass replied : • Read this and thou shalt know !' • What, gone !'— Her friends insisted, forced to go; Is x'd—was teazed-could not refuse her !'-'No?' ‘But you can follow.'-'Yes !'~*The miles are few, The way is pleasant—will you come ?- Adieu !'
Thy Laura !-No; 1 feel I must resign