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PORTRAIT OF ISAAC ASHFORD, PEASANT

181

I feel his absence in the hours of prayer,
And view his seat, and sigh for Isaac there;
I see no more those white locks thinly spread
Round the bald polish of that honoured head;
No more that awful glance on playful wight,
Compelled to kneel and tremble at the sight,
To fold his fingers, all in dread the while,
Till Mister Ashford softened to a smile;
No more that meek and suppliant look in prayer,
Nor the

faith (to give it force), are there :
But he is blest, and I lament no more,
A wise, good man, contented to be poor.

pure

CRABBE.

[Though they fail to exhibit the attributes of the highest genius, the poems of GEORGE CRABBE will always be welcome and valued, from the plenitude of human interest with which they abound. A truly benevolent man, and a warm sympathiser in the happiness and sorrows of the lowly, among whom, as a clergyman, it was his lot to labour, Crabbe was eminently fitted to chronicle “their homely joys and destiny obscure ;” and thus written by one whose heart may truly be said to have been in his work, the “ Village Tales” and “ Tales of the Hall” spread a contagious sympathy to their readers. Crabbe was fortunate enough to secure the friendship and patronage of Edmund Burke. He died at the age of seventy-eight, honoured and respected, in 1832.

The Village Clergyman.

NE

EAR yonder copse, where

once the garden smild, And still where many a gar

den flower grows wild ; There, where a few torn shrubs

the place disclose, The village preacher's modest

mansion rose. A man he was to all the coun

try dear, And passing rich with forty

pounds a-year. Remote from towns he ran his godly race, Nor e'er had changed, nor wish'd to change his place; Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power, , By doctrines fashion’d to the varying hour ; Far other aims his heart had learn’d to prize, More bent to raise the wretched than to rise. His house was known to all the vagrant train, He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain : The long-remember'd beggar was his guest, Whose beard, descending, swept his aged breast; The ruin'd spendthrift, now no longer proud, Claim'd kindred there, and had his claims allow’d; The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay, Sat by his fire, and talk'd the night awayWept o'er his wounds, or, tales of sorrow done, Shoulder'd his crutch, and show'd how fields were won.

[graphic]

THE VILLAGE CLERGYMAN.

183

Pleas'd with his guests, the good man learn'd to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.

Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And e'en his failings lean'd to virtue's side;
But in his duty prompt at every call,
He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all ;
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries
To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
Allured to brighter worlds—and led the way.

Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismay'd,
The reverend champion stood. At his control
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
Comfort came down, the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last faltering accents whisper'd praise.

At church, with meek and unaffected grace, His looks adorn’d the venerable place; Truth from his lips prevail'd with double sway, And fools, who came to scoff, remain'd to pray. The service past, around the pious man, With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran; E'en children follow'd, with endearing wile, And pluck'd his gown to share the good man's smile.

184

SONNET ON HIS BLINDNESS.

His ready smile a parent's warmth express’d,
Their welfare pleas'd him, and their care distress'd;
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm ;
Tho'round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.

Oliver GOLDSMITH.

Sonnet on his Blindness.

THEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and

wide,

And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide :
“ Doth God exact day-labour, light denied ?"
I fondly ask : But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best : his state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

MILTON.

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EASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness !

Close-bosom friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves

runs,
To bend with apples the mossed-cottage trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

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