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Never was there a lovelier sight
Than that Grey Squirrels' fleet;
And with anxious eyes I watched to see
What fortune it would meet.
Soon had they reached the rough mid-stream, And ever and anon,
I grieved to behold some small bark wrecked, And its little steersman gone.
But the main fleet stoutly held across;
I saw them leap to shore;
They entered the woods with a cry of joy,
For their perilous march was o'er.
Ur in the north if thou sail with me,
A wonderful creature I'll show to thee:
As gentle and mild as a Lamb at play,
Skipping about in the month of May;
Yet wise as any old learned sage
Who sits turning over a musty page!
Come down to this lonely river's bank,
See, driven-in stake and riven plank;
"Tis a mighty work before thee stands
That would do no shame to human hands.
A well-built dam to stem the tide
Of this northern river so strong and wide;
Look! the woven bough of many a tree,
And a wall of fairest masonry;
The waters cannot o'erpass this bound,
For a hundred keen eyes watch it round;
And the skill that raised can keep it good
Against the peril of storm and flood.
And yonder, the peaceable creatures dwell
Secure in their watery citadel!
They know no sorrow, have done no sin;
Happy they live 'mong kith and kin-
As happy as living things can be,
Each in the midst of his family!
Ay, there they live, and the hunter wild
Seeing their social natures mild,
Seeing how they were kind and good,
Hath felt his stubborn soul subdued;
And the very sight of their young at play
Hath put his hunter's heart away;
And a mood of pity hath o'er him crept,
As he thought of his own dear babes and wept.*
I know ye are but the Beavers small,
Living at peace in your own mud-wall;
I know that ye have no books to teach
The lore that lies within your reach.
But what? Five thousand years ago
Ye knew as much as now ye know;
And on the banks of streams that sprung
Forth when the earth itself was young,
Your wondrous works were formed as true;
For the All-Wise instructed you!
But man! how hath he pondered on,
Through the long term of ages gone;
And many a cunning book hath writ,
Of learning deep, and subtle wit;
Hath compassed sea, hath compassed land,
Hath built up towers and temples grand,
Hath travelled far for hidden lore,
And known what was not known of yore,
Yet after all, though wise he be,
He hath no better skill than ye!
THE TRUE STORY OF WEB-SPINNER.
WEB-SPINNER was a miser old,
Who came of low degree;
His body was large, his legs were thin,
And he kept bad company;
And his visage had the evil look
Of a black felon grim;
To all the country he was known,
But none spoke well of him.
His house was seven stories high,
In a corner of the street,
And it always had a dirty look,
When other homes were neat;
Up in his garret dark he lived,
And from the windows high Looked out in the dusky evening Upon the passers by.
Most people thought he lived alone; Yet many have averred,
That dismal cries from out his house
Were often loudly heard;
And that none living left his gate,
Although a few went in,
For he seized the very beggar old,
And stripped him to the skin; And though he prayed for mercy,
Yet mercy ne'er was shown The miser cut his body up,
And picked him bone from bone. Thus people said, and all believed The dismal story true;
As it was told to me, in truth,
I tell it so to you.
There was an ancient widow-
One Madgy de la Moth,
A stranger to the man, or she
Had not gone there, in troth;
But she was poor, and wandered out
At nightfall in the street,
To beg from rich men's tables
Dry scraps of broken meat.
So she knocked at old Web-Spinner's door, With a modest tap, and low,
She thought for such a gentleman,
That he was wondrous kind;
But ere the midnight clock had tolled,
Like a tiger of the wood,
He had eaten the flesh from off her bones,
And drank of her heart's blood!
Now after this fell deed was done,
A little season's space,
The burly Baron of Bluebottle
Was riding from the chase:
The sport was dull, the day was hot,
The sun was sinking down,
When wearily the Baron rode
Into the dusty town.
Says he, "I'll ask a lodging
At the first house I come to;"
With that the gate of Web-Spinner
Came suddenly in view:
Loud was the knock the Baron gave-
Down came the churl with glee.
Says Bluebottle, "Good sir, to-night
I ask your courtesy ;
I'm wearied with a long day's chase
My friends are far behind."
"You may need them all," said Web-Spinner, "It runneth in my mind."
"A Baron am I," says Bluebottle;
From a foreign land I come."
"I thought as much," said Web-Spinner, "Fools never stay at home!" Says the Baron, "Churl, what meaneth this? I defy ye, villain base!"
And he wished the while in his inmost heart He was safely from the place.
Web-Spinner ran and locked the door,
And a loud laugh, laughed he;
With that each one on the other sprang,
And they wrestled furiously.
The Baron was a man of might,
A swordsman of renown; But the Miser had the stronger arm, And kept the Baron down: Then out he took a little cord,
From a pocket at his side,
And with many a crafty, cruel knot His hands and feet he tied;
And bound him down unto the floor,
And said in savage jest,
"There 's heavy work in store for you; So, Baron, take your rest!"
Then up and down his house he went,
Arranging dish and platter,
With a dull heavy countenance,
As if nothing were the matter. At length he seized on Bluebottle, That strong and burly man, And with many and many a desperate tug, To hoist him up began:
And step by step, and step by step,
He went with heavy tread;
But ere he reached the garret door, Poor Bluebottle was dead!
Now all this while, a Magistrate,
Who lived the house hard by,
Had watched Web-Spinner's cruelty
Through a window privily:
So in he bursts, through bolts and bars,
With a loud and thundering sound, And vowed to burn the house with fire, And level it with the ground;
But the wicked churl, who all his life Had looked for such a day,
Passed through a trap-door in the wall, And took himself away:
But where he went no man could tell; "T was said that under ground,
He died a miserable death,
But his body ne'er was found.
They pulled his house down stick and stone,"For a caitiff vile as he,"
Said they," within our quiet town Shall not a dweller be!"
THE actions of the Spider above described, were told me by a very intelligent man, who permitted the web to remain for a considerable time in his counting-house window, that he might have the means of closely observing its occupier's way of life. It was, as described above, under the semblance of a dwelling-house, seven stories high, and in each story was a small circular hole by which the spider ascended and descended at pleasure; serving, in fact, all the purposes of a stair-case. His usual abode was in his seventh, or garret story, where he sat in a sullen sort of patience waiting for his prey. The small downyIwinged moth was soon taken; she was weak, and made but little resistance; and was always eaten on the spot. His behaviour towards a heavy and noisy bluebottle fly was exactly as related. The fly seemed bold and insolent; and hurled himself, as if in defiance, against the abode of his enemy. The spider descended in great haste, and stood before him, when an angry parley seemed to take place. The bluebottle appeared highly affronted, and plunged about like a wild horse; but his efforts were generally unsuccessful; the spider, watching an unguarded moment, darted behind him, and falling upon him with all his force, drew a fine thread from his side, with which he so completely entangled his prostrate victim, that it was impossible he could move leg or wing. The spider the set about making preparations for the feast, which, for reasons best known to himself, he chose to enjoy in his upper story. The staircase, which would admit his body, was too strait for that of his victim; he accordingly set about enlarging it, with a delicate pair of shears with which his head was furnished, and then with great adroitness he hoisted the almost exhausted Bluebottle to the top of his dwelling, where he fell upon him with every token of satisfaction.
BRIGHT Creature, lift thy voice and sing,
Like the glad birds, for this is Spring!
Look up the skies above are bright,
And darkly blue as deep midnight;
And piled-up, silvery clouds lie there,
Like radiant slumberers of the air:
And hark! from every bush and tree
Rings forth the wild-wood melody.
The Blackbird and the Thrush sing out;
And small birds warble round about,
As if they were bereft of reason,
In the great gladness of the season;
And though the hedge be leafless yet,
Still many a little nest is set
'Mong the twisted boughs so cunningly,
Where early eggs lie, two or three.
And hark! those Rooks the trees among,
Feeding their never-silent young;
A pleasant din it is, that calls
The fancy to ancestral halls.
But hush! from out that warm wood's side,
I hear a voice that ringeth wide-
O, joyful Spring's sweet minstrel, hail!
It is indeed the Nightingale,
Loud singing in the morning clear,
As poets ever love to hear!
Look now abroad.-All creatures see.
How they are filled with life and glee:
This little Bee among the flowers
Hath laboured since the morning hours,
Making the pleasant air astir,
And with its murmuring, pleasanter.
See there! the wavering Butterfly,
With starting motion fluttering by.
From leaf to leaf, from spray to spray,
A thing whose life is holiday;
The little Rabbits too, are out,
And Leverets skipping all about;
And Squirrels, peeping from their trees,
A-start at every vagrant breeze;
For life, in the glad days of Spring,
Doth gladden each created thing.
Now green is every bank, and full
Of flowers and leaves for all to pull.
The Ficary, in each sunny place,
Doth shine out like a merry face;
The strong green Mercury, and the dear
Fresh Violets of the early year,
Peering their broad green leaves all through,
In odorous thousands, white and blue;
And the broad Dandelion's blaze,
Bright as the sun of summer's days;
And in the woods beneath the green
Of budding trees are brightly seen,
The nodding Blue-bell's graceful flowers,
The Hyacinth of this land of ours-
As fair as any flower that blows;
And here the pale Stellaria grows,
Like Una with her gentle grace,
Shining out in a shady place;
And here, on open slopes we see
The lightly-set Anemone;
Here too the spotted Arum green,
A hooded mystery, is seen;
And in the turfy meadows shine,
White Saxifrage and Cardamine;
And acres of the Crocus make*
A lustre like a purple lake.
And overhead how nobly towers
The Chestnut, with its waxen flowers,
And broad green leaves, which all expand,
Like to a giant's open hand.
Beside you blooms the Hawthorn tree;
And yonder the wild Cherry-tree,
The fairy-lady of the wood;
And there the Sycamore's bursting bud,
The Spanish-chestnut, and the Lime,
Those trees of flowery summer-time.
Look up, the leaves are fresh and green,
And every branching vein is seen
Through their almost transparent sheen!
Spirit of Beauty, thou dost fling
Such grace o'er each created thing,
That even a little leaf may stir
The heart to be a worshipper;
And joy, which in the soul has birth
From these bright creatures of the earth,-
Good is it thou shouldst have thy way,
Thou art as much of God as they!
Now let us to the garden go,
And dig and delve, and plant and sow;
The fresh dark mould is rich and sweet,
And each flower-plot is trim and neat ;
And Daffodil and Primrose see,
And many-hued Anemone,
As full of flower as they can be;
And here the Hyacinth sweetly pale,
Recalling some old Grecian tale;
And here the mild Narcissus too;
And every flower of every hue,
Which the glad season sends, is here;
The Almond, while its branch is sere,
With myriad blossoms beautified,
As pink as the sea-shell's inside;
And, under the warm cottage-eaves,
Among its clustered, budding leaves,
Shines out the Pear-tree's flowers of snow,
As white as any flowers that grow:
And budding is the southern Vine,
And Apricot and Nectarine;
And Plum-trees in the garden warm,
And Damsons round the cottage-farm,
Like snow-showers shed upon the trees,
And like them shaken by the breeze.
Dear ones! 't is now the time, that ye
Sit down with zeal to botany;
And names which were so hard and tough,
Are easy now, and clear enough;
For from the morn to evening's hours
Your bright instructers are sweet flowers.
As in the Nottingham Meadows.
Go out through pleasant field and lane,
And come back, glad of heart again,
Bringing with you life's best of wealth,
Knowledge, and joy of heart, and health;
Ere long each bank whereon ye look
Will be to you an open book,
And flowers, by the Creator writ,
The characters inscribed on it!
Come let us forth into the fields!
Unceasing joy the season yields-
Why should we tarry within door?
And see, the children of the poor
Are out, all joy, and running races,
With buoyant limbs and laughing faces.
Thank heaven! the sunshine and the air
Are free to these young sons of care!
Come, let us, too, be glad as they,
For soon is gone the merry May!
UP! up! let us a voyage take; Why sit we here at ease? Find us a vessel tight and snug, Bound for the Northern Seas.
I long to see the Northern-Lights, With their rushing splendours fly; Like living things with flaming wings, Wide o'er the wondrous sky.
I long to see those ice-bergs vast,
With heads all crowned with snow; Whose green roots sleep in the awful deep, Two hundred fathoms low.
I long to hear the thundering crash
Of their terrific fall;
And the echoes from a thousand cliffs, Like lonely voices call.
There shall we see the fierce White Bear;
The sleepy Seals a-ground,
And the spouting Whales that to and fro
Sail with a dreary sound.
There may we tread on depths of ice,
That the hairy Mammoth hide; Perfect, as when in times of old, The mighty creature died.
And while the unsetting sun shines on Through the still heaven's deep blue, We'll traverse the azure waves, the herds
Of the dread Sea-horse to view. We'll pass the shores of solemn pine, Where Wolves and Black Bears prowl; And away to the rocky isles of mist, To rouse the northern fowl.
Up there shall start ten thousand wings
With a rushing, whistling din;
Up shall the Auk and Fulmar start,-
All but the fat Penguin.
THE SOUTHERN SEAS.
YES! let us mount this gallant ship;
Spread canvas to the wind-
Up! we will seek the glowing South-
Leave Care and Cold behind.
Let the Shark pursue through the waters blue
Our flying vessel's track;
Let strong winds blow, and rocks below
Threaten, we turn not back.
Trusting in Him who holds the Sea
In his Almighty hand,
We'll pass the awful waters wide-
Tread many a far-off strand.
Right onward as our course we hold,
From day to day, the sky
Above our head its arch shall spread
More glowing, bright, and high.
And from night to night-oh, what delight!
In its azure depths to mark
Stars all unknown come glittering out
Over the ocean dark.
The moon uprising like a sun,
So stately, large, and sheen,
And the very stars like clustered moons
In the crystal ether keen.
While all about the ship below,
Strange fiery billows play,-
The ceaseless keel through liquid fire
Cuts wondrously its way.
But O, the South! the balmy South!
How warm the breezes float!
How warm the amber waters stream
From off our basking boat.
Come down, come down from the tall ship's side!
What a marvellous sight is here!
Look-purple rocks and crimson trees,
Down in the deep so clear.
See! where those shoals of Dolphins go,
A glad and glorious band,
Sporting among the day-bright woods
Of a coral fairy-land.
See! on the violet sands beneath,
How the gorgeous shells do glide! O Sea! old Sea, who yet knows half Of thy wonders and thy pride?