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ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS IN PROSE AND VERSE.*
The tree of deepest root is found
Least willing still to quit the ground;
’T was therefore said by ancient sages,
That love of life increased with years,
So much, that in our latter stages,
When pains grow sharp and sickness rages,
The greatest love of life appears.
This greatest affection to believe,
Which all confess, but few perceive,
If old affections can't prevail,
Be pleased to hear a modern tale.
When sports went round, and all were gay,
On neighbor Dobson's wedding-day,
Death called aside the jocund groom,
With him into another room;
And looking grave, you must, says he,
Quit your sweet bride, and come with me.
With you, and quit my Susan's side ?
With you! the hapless husband cried :
Young as I am; 't is monstrous hard;
Besides, in truth, I'm not prepared :
My thoughts on other matters go,
This is my wedding night, you know.
What more he urged I have not heard,
His reasons could not well be stronger,
So Death the poor delinquent spared, * Under this head I have printed only those which were found detached. The majority of her fugitive pieces and occasional verses are contained in the Letters.
And left to live a little longer.
Yet calling up a serious look,
His hour-glass trembled while he spoke,
Neighbor, he said, farewell. No more
Shall Death disturb your mirthful hour,
And further, to avoid all blame
Of cruelty upon my name,
To give you time for preparation,
And fit you for your future station,
Three several warnings you shall have
Before you ’re summoned to the grave:
Willing, for once, I 'll quit my prey,
And grant a kind reprieve;
In hopes you 'll have no more to say
But when I call again this way,
Well pleased the world will leave.
To these conditions both consented,
And parted perfectly contented.
What next the hero of our tale befell,
How long he lived, how wise, how well,
How roundly he pursued his course,
And smoked his pipe, and stroked his horse,
The willing muse shall tell:
He chaffered then, he bought, he sold,
Nor once perceived his growing old,
Nor thought of Death as near;
His friends not false, his wife no shrew,
Many his gains, his children few,
He passed his hours in peace;
But while he viewed his wealth increase,
While thus along life’s dusty road
The beaten track content he trod,
Old time whose haste no mortal spares
Uncalled, unheeded, unawares,
Brought him on his eightieth year.
And now one night in musing mood,
As all alone he sate,
Th’ unwelcome messenger of fate
Once more before him stood.
Half stilled with anger and surprise,
So soon returned ! old Dobson cries.
So soon, d' ye call it ! Death replies :
Surely, my friend, you ’re but in jest ;
Since I was here before
'Tis six-and-thirty years at least,
And you are now fourscore.
So much the worse, the clown rejoined,
To spare the aged would be kind ;
However, see your search be legal
And your authority, — Is 't regal ?
Else you are come on a fool's errand,
With but a secretary's warrant.
Besides, you promised me three warnings,
Which I have looked for nights and mornings;
But for that loss of time and ease
I can recover damages.
I know, cries Death, that at the best,
I seldom am a welcome guest;
But don't be captious, friend, at least;
I little thought you 'd still be able
To stump about your farm and stable ;
Your years have run to a great length,
I wish you joy though of your strength.
Hold, says the farmer, not so fast,
I have been lame these four years past.
And no great wonder, Death replies ;
However, you still keep your eyes,
And sure to see one's loves and friends,
For legs and arms would make amends.
Perhaps, says Dobson, so it might,
But, latterly, I've lost my sight.
This is a shocking story, faith,
Yet there's some comfort still, says Death ;
Each strives your sadness to amuse,
I warrant you have all the news.
There's none, cries he, and if there were,
I'm grown so deaf, I could not hear.
Nay then, the spectre stern rejoined,
These are unjustifiable yearnings ;
If you are lame and deaf and blind,
You've had your three sufficient warnings.
So come along, no more we'll part:
He said, and touched him with his dart;
And now old Dobson, turning pale,
Yields to his fate, — so ends my tale.
Duty and Pleasure – long at strife,
Crossed in the common walks of life;
Pray, don't disturb me, get you gone,
Cries Duty in a serious tone:
Then with a smile, — keep off, my dear,
Nor force me thus to be severe.
Lord, Sir, she cries, you 're grown so grave
You make yourself a perfect slave ;
I can't think why we disagree,
You may turn Methodist for me.
But if you 'll neither laugh nor play,
At least don't stop me on my way;
Yet sure one moment you might steal
To see our lovely Miss O'Neill ;
One hour to relaxation give,
0, lend one hour from life — to live.
And here's a bird and there's a flower,
Dear Duty, walk a little slower.
My youthful task is not half done,
Cries Duty, with an inward groan;
False colors on each object spread,
I scarce see whence or where I'm led;
Your bragged enjoyments mount the wind,
And leave their venomed stings behind.
Where are you flown ? Voices around
Cry — Pleasure long has left this ground:
Old age advances — haste away ;
Nor lose the light of parting day.
See sickness follows, sorrow threats :
Waste no more time in vain regrets.
One moment more to Duty given,
Might reach perhaps the gates of heaven,
Where only — each with each delighted -
Duty and Pleasure live united.