Two Poems by Susanna Blamire
O Donald! Ye Are Just the Man
O Donald! ye are just the man
Who, when he’s got a wife,
Begins to fratch— nae notice ta’en—
They’re strangers a’ their life.
The fan may drop— she takes it up,
The husband keeps his chair;
She hands the kettle— gives his cup—
Without e’en— thank ye, dear.”
Now, truly, these slights are but toys;
But frae neglects like these,
The wife may soon a slattern grow,
And strive nae mair to please.
For wooers ay do all they can
To trifle wi’ the mind;
They hold the blaze of beauty up,
And keep the poor things blind.
But wedlock tears away the veil,
The goddess is nae mair;
He thinks his wife a silly thing,
She thinks her man a bear.
Let then the lover be the friend—
The loving friend for life;
Think but thysel the happiest spouse,
She’ll be the happiest wife.
Stocklewath; or, The Cumbrian Village
From where dark clouds of curling smoke arise,
And the tall column mounts into the skies;
Where the grim arches of the forge appear,
Whose fluted pillars prop the thickening air;
Where domes of peers and humble roofs are found
Alike to spread their mingled vapours round;
From denser air and busy towns I run,
To catch a glimpse of the unclouded sun;
Foe to the toils which wealth and pomp create,
And all the hard–wrought tinsel of the great.
Aurora now had left her crimson bed,
And the sky glowed with pure reflected red;
The moving stars withdrew their timorous light,
As her gilt chariot burst upon the sight;
The glittering pearls that gentle Eve had born,
Were all adorning the sweet brow of Morn;
And every shrub, and every opening flower,
Unlock’d some jewel for the rising hour.
Meanwhile unseen the fragrant zephyr flew,
And gather’d essence from the balmy dew;
I wander’d on, till Fancy bade me stay,
And spend with Health and her one holiday.
Where the clear stream its useful tenor holds,
And the shorn flocks come whiten’d from the folds;
Where on each side the cottages are seen,
Which orchards shelter, and which poplars screen;
There many an apple, in autumnal pride,
Glows with red cheek, and blushes side by side;
Which with nice care is lock’d in oaken chest,
Till Christmas comes, and tarts draw out the feast.
Nor does the garden useful herbs deny,
Fenc’d round with thorns that point their spears on high;
There the thyme blows, from which brown bees distil
The sweets that all their waxen storehouse fill.
The parsley next extends its useful row,
And marjorum sweet is ever taught to grow;
Next balm, and sage, and hyssop, physic yield,
With cordial mint, the doctor of the field.
There spreading cabbage all their strength produce,
And take firm root to stand for winter’s use.
Carrots and turnips Sunday–feasts supply,
Till blest potatoes meet the thankful eye.
There the tall pea in stately grandeur stalks,
And humbler bean midst her own fragrance walks.
The ripening currant many a warbler brings,
‘Mongst whom the blackbird spreads his sooty wings.
But O! forbear with lure or artful snare
To trap this sweetest songster of the air,
Nor quench in darkness his quick visual ray,
Shut out from liberty and glorious day.
Enough, enough! while to the cage confin’d,
Through all the house his wilding wood–notes wind;
Let him at least the gift of light retain,
Nor hear his whistling pipe with conscious pain!
And, look, where ornament her care bestows!
Above the lily nods the blushing rose,
The fringing poppy and the peony vie
Which shall look gayest in the village eye.
Nor think not these unmeet for Sunday’s pride,
When with a woollen thread the nosegay’s tied!
There southernwood, and thyme, like broom, behold
Spreading their shade o’er the dark marigold.
Sweetwilliam next, in wig of early pride,
Smiles on himself as if his bob he eyed;
The rose and lily round the posy stray,
And in the church waft faintness far away,
When tir’d with walking many a sultry morn
Through new cut hay, or fields of standing corn;
E’en while at prayers a sudden chillness steals,
And all the heart the creeping sickness feels;
No salts are there,–yet thyme and mint renew
The wasting sense, and cheer from pew to pew.
But now the sun sends forth his scorching rays,
And the hot cattle startling cease to graze;
While to the pool, or darkest shade they hie,
And with the scourging tail whip off th’ offending fly.
Along the path that winds around the hill
You lose the milkmaid–though you hear her still.
At the last fair she caught yon thrilling lay,
And now the woods repeat “Auld Robin Gray.”
The waving pail swims lightly on her head,
For equal steps to measur’d music tread.
Adown the stream where woods begin to throw
Their verdant arms around the rocks below,
A rustic bridge across the tide is thrown,
Where briars and woodbine hide the hoary stone,
A simple arch salutes th’ admiring eye,
And the mill’s clack the tumbling waves supply.
But lest society some loss should share,
And nearest neighbours lack their neighbour’s fare,
The tottering step–stones cross the stream are laid,
O’er which trips lightly many a busy maid,
And many a matron, when one failing cow
Bids no big cheese within the cheese–vat grow,
Their wealthier neighbour then, her bowls to swell,
Will gladly take what they as gladly sell.
The morning toils are now completely o’er,
The bowls well scalded, and well swept the floor.
The daughter at the needle plies the seam,
While the good mother hastens to the stream:
There the long webs, that wintry moons began,
Lie stretch’d and beaming in the summer’s sun;
And lest he scorch them in his fervid hours,
She scoops along the nice conducted showers;
Till like the snow, that tips the mountain’s height,
The brown’s dull shade gives place to purest white;
While her sweet child knee–deep is wading seen,
Picking bright stones, or tumbling on the green.
But now the sun’s bright whirling wheels appear
On the broad front of noon, in full career,
A sign more welcome hangs not in the air,
For now the sister’s call the brothers hear;
Dinner’s the word, and every cave around
Devours the voice, and feasts upon the sound.
‘Tis dinner, father! all the brothers cry,
Throw down the spade, and heave the pickaxe by;
‘Tis dinner, father! home they panting go,
While the tired parent still pants on more slow.
Now the fried rasher meets them on the way,
And savoury pancakes welcome steams convey.
Their pace they mend, till at the pump they stand,
Deluge the face, and purify the hand,
And then to dinner. There the women wait,
And the tired father fills his chair of state;
Smoking potatoes meet their thankful eyes,
And Hunger wafts the grateful sacrifice;
To her libations of sweet milk are pour’d,
And Peace and Plenty watch around the board.
Now, till the sun has somewhat sunk in height,
Yet long before he dips his wheels in night,
The nut–brown labourers their senses steep
In the soft dews of renovating sleep;
The worthy sire to the soft bed repairs,
The sons beneath the shade forget their cares.
The clock strikes two, it beats upon the ear,
And soon the parent’s anxious voice they hear;
Come, come, my lads, you must not sleep all day!
They rub their eyes, start up, then stalk away.
But let me not at twelve forget to eye
The learned school–dame’s jumping, shrill–ton’d fry.
Some near at home to dinner dancing run,
Eager for play when the repast is done;
Others more distant, bring their satchel’d fare
Safely infolded by a mother’s care.
On a wood trencher stands the tower–like pie,
While bread and cheese form battlements on high;
A crust for ‘tween–meals in a corner stows,
And guarded butter oaten–cakes enclose;
And shining tin–flasks of new milk, which seem
Best to demand the name of good thick cream!
The dinner done; the happy train so gay,
In various groups disperse to various play;
Some to the hounded–hare the sinews strain,
And fleet as greyhounds scour along the plain.
At last the hare through all her windings caught
Gets leave to breathe, and breath brings change of thought;
For races some, but more for foot–ball cry,
Mark out their ground, and toss the globe on high;
The well fought field deals many a galling stroke,
And many a chief’s o’erthrown, and many a shin is broke.
These active feats, while manly imps essay,
The gentler sex choose out a gentler play;
They form a smiling circle on the green,
Where chuckstones, dolls, and totums, all are seen;
A nest of linnets, a few happy elves,
Run home to see if yet they pick themselves,
Though but an hour ago their throats they cramm’d,
And chirp’d, and cheep’d, and well the mother shamm’d.
Escap’d in happy hour from rod–taught lore,
Their books forgot, nor work remember’d more;
All share the joy, but one imprison’d slave,
Who from offended worth no boon would save.
The dame he said was like a clocking hen,
Who ne’er would let them out when it did rain;
And if again his hands she dar’d to switch,
He’d call her to her face a wrinkl’d witch.
This told a wheedler, much dislik’d by all,
Whom in abhorrence they tale–pyet call,
Who for a raisin or a fig would tell
Faults of a brother he lov’d ne’er so well;
Th’ offender’s soul no threaten’d pain unbends,
Nor with the dame will his proud heart be friends,
He loves her not; for this the hour of play,
And much–wish’d dinner, both are snatch’d away.
And now the dame in neat white mob is seen,
Her russet gown, silk kerchief, apron clean,
At the school door her tremulous voice is heard,
And the blithe game’s unwillingly deferr’d.
From noon till morn rests female toil; save come
The evening hours when lowing cows draw home.
Now the good neighbour walks her friend to see,
And knit an hour, and drink a dish of tea.
She comes unlook’d for,–wheat–bread is to seek,
The baker has none, got no yeast last week;
And little Peggy thinks herself ill sped,
Though she has got a great piece gingerbread.
Home she returns, but disappointment’s trace
Darkens her eye, and lengthens all her face;
She whispers lowly in her sister’s ear,
Scarce can restrain the glistening, swelling tear.
The mother marks, and to the milk–house goes,
Blythe Peggy smiles, she well the errand knows;
There from the bowl where cream so coolly swims,
The future butter generously skims,
And, flour commixing, forms a rural bread
That for the wheaten loaf oft stands in stead;
Cup after cup sends steaming circles round,
And oft the weak tea’s in the full pot drown’d;
It matters not, for while their news they tell
The mind’s content, and all things move on well.
The sun has now his saffron robe put on,
Stept from his chariot that with rubies shone,
The glittering monarch gains the western gate,
And for a moment shines in regal state;
His streaming mantle floats along the sky,
While he glides softly from the gazing eye;
From saffron tinge to yellow soon it flew,
Sea–green the next, and then to darkest blue.
Now different cares employ the village train,
The rich in cattle press the milky vein;
When, lo! a voice sends direful notes around,
And sharp vexation mingles in the sound;
‘Tis little Peggy, she the pail would fill,
And on old Hawky try her early skill.
She strok’d and clapp’d her, but she’d not allow;
The well known hand best pleased the knowing cow;
Tho’ cabbage leaves before her band was cast,
Hawky refus’d the coaxing rich repast;
And when the little hand unapt she found,
She kick’d, and whelm’d her on the slippery ground.
Along yon hedge now mouldering and decay’d,
In gather’d heaps you see the fragments laid;
Piled up with care to swell the nightly blaze,
And in the widow’s hut a fire to raise.
See where she comes with her blue apron full,
Crown’d with some scatter’d locks of dingy wool.
In years she seems, and on her well patch’d clothes
Want much has added to her other woes.
There is a poor–house; but some little pride
Forbids her there her humbled head to hide;
O’er former scenes of better days she runs,
And every thing like degradation shuns!
Now hooded Eve slow gliding comes in view,
Busied in threading pearls of diamond dew;
Waking the flowers that early close the eye,
And giving drops to those that else would die.
And what is man but such a tender flower,
That buds, blooms, fades, and dies within the hour?
Where round yon cottage the rosemary grows,
And turncap lilies flaunt beside the rose,
Two aged females turn the weary wheel,
And, as they turn, their slumbering thoughts reveal:
“How long is’t, think ye, since th’ old style was lost?
Poor England may remember’t to her cost!
E’er since that time the weather has grown cold,
(For Jane forgets that she is now grown old).
I knew when I liv’d servant at Woodmile,
So scorching hot the weather was in April,
The cows would startle, and by ten o’clock
My master us’d his horses to unyoke;
‘Tis not so now; the sun has lost its power;
The very apples now–a–days are sour!
Could not the Parson tell the reason why
There are such changes both in earth and sky?”
“’Tis not these only,” Margaret replied,
“For many a change besides have I espied.
Look at the girls!–they all dress now–a–days
Like them fine folk who act them nonsense plays!
No more the decent mob surrounds the face,
Border’d with edging, or bit good bone–lace;
Gauze flappets soon–that will not last a day–
We’ll see them flaunting whilst they’re making hay!
All things are chang’d, the world’s turned upside down,
And every servant wears a cotton gown,
Bit flimsy things, that have no strength to wear,
And will like any blotting–paper tear!
I made my Nelly a half–worsted gown,
She slighting told me ‘t would not do in town!
This pride! this pride! it sure must have a fall,
And bring some heavy judgment on us all!
They’re grown so bold too, and their lads allow,
When courting them, to skulk behind a cow,
Till all’s in bed. My John, when courting me,
Us’d after supper to come manfully;
For oft he us’d to say he knew no place
Where honesty need fear to shew its face.
No more it need! My master us’d to cry,–
He fear’d but two things–to turn thief, and lie.”
The leading crow her colony brings home,
And two by two they seek their leafy dome.
Of all the branches that invite to rest,
Each loves the one that hangs above its nest;
What though of rudest architecture made,
Nor thorns surrounding nor with clay inlaid,
Yet ’tis the spot where infant days began,
That thus attaches both the crow and man!
Now on the green the youth their gambols keep,
Stretching their sinews in the bounding leap;
Others the wrestler’s glory would maintain,
Twist the strong nerve and fill the swelling vein;
One youth his pipe blows from the rocky hill,
Seated like Pan above the clacking mill;
Another strikes the violin’s cheerful string,
Light to the dance the bounding virgins spring:
‘Tis most part nature, yet some art is found
When one–two–three lies heavy on the ground;
For ’tis not airy feet which seem to fly,
Then come descended quivering from the sky,
Nor form that every Grace was known to bend,
Nor foot that every feathered Hour would lend,
Has any merit here;–but feet of sound,
Which tabour–like re–echo on the ground;
Or as the drum a certain sound repeats,
Flutters now low, and then in thunder beats;
From Nature and from Art how wide the sphere!
Courts unimprov’d would be what you see here.
Now Eve had sprinkled every flower with dew,
And her gauze hood was wet and dripping through;
A light grey cloak to the warm fleece allied,
Her chilly fingers close and closer tied,
That, with a fur–lined cap, the ears’ delight,
Was given her by her elder sister Night.
From walks retired, that shun the inquiring view,
A faithful couple to the shades withdrew.
The maid had every blush that bloom can give,
Where youth fresh glowing bids the blossom live,
And the fair cheek, with lilies all bespread,
Shades the full rose, and hides its bolder red,
Pure as the drop that in the early morn
Hangs with such sweetness smiling on the thorn,
Artless as youth before the cranky wile
Shadows the frown, or plays within the smile;
She moves, the wonder of the rural plain,
And many a sigh steals to her ear in vain.
A youth there was like her, of better mould,
Whose soul deem’d lightly of the weight of gold.
Around his birth some favouring fortune shone,
Which some call merit, though no way their own;
The Church was laid out as his rising line,
Himself delighting in the text divine;
That text, at home by country masters taught,
Might stint the learning but keep back the fault,
For sure great knowledge we should all despise,
Unless the man be virtuous as he’s wise.
The mother’s eye had long o’er all her son
With many a fear, and much observance run,
Seen where beneath the elms a path was worn,–
Mark’d him at pensive eve, and laughing morn
Still seek the shade,–now with sad step, and slow,
With folded arms, and head declining low;
Then livelier thoughts awake a quicker pace,
And hope breaks out and glows along his face.
Thus to the partner of her thirty years
She soft began:–Thou calmer of my fears,
Oft has thy firmer mind my sorrows stilled,
As from thy lips thy better sense distilled,
Hast thou observ’d our dearest hope of late?
Whose spirits flag with some uncommon weight,–
Some secret anguish sickens o’er his soul,
And silent night has seen the torrent roll,
The wandering stream has from his eyelids crept,
And his moist pillow shewn he has not slept.
My life, rejoin’d the father, in thy mind
The mist of tenderness the optics blind,
Imagin’d ills from feeling ever flow,
All things look big when seen through clouds of woe;
I’ve mark’d no difference save what study brings,
They all turn grave who search the source of things.
This not believing, ceas’d she to reply,
But still sent forth her keen inquiring eye,
Mark’d when sweet Anna’s name breath’d in the sound,
How quick his eye sprung from the thoughtful ground;
And when just praise the beauteous maid would grace,
Joy smooth’d his brow, and blushes dyed his face.
This wak’d suspicion–rumour told the whole,
And now she knew what sicken’d o’er his soul.
The father skill’d in all the ways of man,
Thus, to his mate affectionate, began:
In all distempers of the feverish mind,
The greatest good from change of scene we find.
Tho’ one dear object, touchstone of our woe,
Seems to go with us wheresoe’er we go,
Yet gay variety divides the view,–
Spite of ourselves we gaze at what is new;
Back–turning thought will far–past scenes survey,
That fainter grow, worn out by length of way;
A softer mist o’er every object spreads,
Figures grow dim, and towers scarce shew their heads:
Back–turning thought strains his sunk hollow eye,
But scenes retire, and dearest objects fly;
He lags no more–by soft degrees is stole
The keenest anguish that inwraps the soul.
To college, then, our sorrowing son shall go,
New loves, or friends, shall wear out all his woe;
Ideas changing as new views arise
Let in new light, and almost change the eyes;
Objects adored, that matchless seem’d before,
Excite no wonder, and delight no more.
The mother sigh’d, the starting tear withheld,
To her fond partner ever fond to yield;
Nor ever felt she what is call’d command,
His wish grew hers in magic quickness bland.
And now Pretence had whisper’d to the maid
Thro’ all the wood her new wash’d flock had stray’d;
The youth too sought the shade in hopes to clear
Her pearl–set eye that hung with many a tear.
Far from the uproar of the loud cascade,
Where the slow stream crept softly to the shade,
Beneath a rock with venturous trees o’erhung,
That seem by some enchantment to have sprung,
For the scant soil nor moss nor grass bestows,
But yawning cliffs the sinewy roots expose;
There on her cheek the roses felt the dew,
Which drop by drop extracts their softest hue:
“Why weeps my Anna? Sure she knows this heart,
And knows in absence we but seem to part;
Though mountains rise, and the slow weary day
Draws out the journey a long length of way,
Yet trust me, Anna, still my soul shall be
Chain’d to thy soul, and never part from thee!”
Sweet Anna shook her head–sad sighs oppose
The labouring words that to the threshold rose;
The lip kept moving, but no accent fell,
Yet the round tear perhaps can speak as well.
“O cease, my Anna, or declare thy fears,
I cannot, cannot bear these softening tears!
What have I done to tempt thy generous mind
To form a thought that I can grow unkind?”
“Nothing”–she sobb’d,–“but–but it cannot be–
But every eye must take delight in thee!
Some maid whom education softens o’er,
To whose rich mind each day keeps adding more;
Whose winning manners mixed with every grace,
Invite the eye, and keep it from the face,–
And, when she speaks, Persuasion’s lyre is strung,
And the sweet words come warbling from her tongue;
If such a one thy heart in fetters hold,–
For I have not one fear from sordid gold,
I shall not blame my William,–still may he
Taste every bless, whate’er becomes of me.”
“Dearest of women,” William thus rejoined,
“How can such fears e’er cloud so bright a mind!
In finer arts I know some may excel,
Some have more grace, and some few speak as well
Yet the sweet accent will but thrill my ear,
Trust me, my Anna, ‘t will not reach me here.
This heart is thine, and every faithful chord
Will only vibrate to thy well known word:
From infant years thy growing worth I’ve known,
Our wish the same, and our delights but one;
Believest thou this? The winged hours shall press
One after one, to crown my happiness;
The day shall come when I shall claim my own,
And freely to the world my love make known.”
So saying, to their homes they separate go,
He more at ease–she something less in woe.
In this gay village hangs a wonderous sign,
The Hounds and Hare are the immense design.
There hunters crack their whips, and seem to bound
O’er every hedge, nor touch the mimic ground;
The huntsman winds his horn, his big cheeks swell,
And whippers–in make lagging terriers yell;
The sportive scene tempts many a wight to stay,
As to the school he drags th’ unwilling way.
Around the front inviting benches wait,
Conscious of many a glass and sage debate;
The great man of the village cracks his joke,
Reads o’er the news, and whiffs the curling smoke;
Tells tales of old, and nods, and heaves the can,
Makes fixed decrees, and seems much more than man.
“Come, Jack, sit down. Thy father, man, and me,
Broke many a glass, and many a freak had we.
‘Twas when he sought thy mother, at Carel Fair
(I mind the corn was very bad that year)
We met thy mother and my wife i’ the street,
And took them into Beck’s to get a treat;
Blind Joseph played, and I took out thy mother,
Thy father, he was shy, he got another;
And when I took her back, as you may see,
I whipp’d her blushing on thy father’s knee.
Then in came Robin Bell, who lik’d her too,
And bit his lip, and turn’d both red and blue,
Teas’d her to dance, as you may see, and then
Kept her himself, nor brought her back again.
I fir’d at this, while up thy father rose,
Gave him a kick, and tweak’d him by the nose.
They stripped to fight, as you may see, and I
In seeing fair play got a blacken’d eye;
I durst not shew my face at home next day,
But bade my mother say I went away,
But kept my bed, i’ fegs, as you may see;
Who is it now fights for their lasses? eh!”
The blacksmith laugh’d, the cobbler gave a smile,
And the pleas’d tailor scratch’d his head the while.
But hark! what sounds of mingl’d joy and woe
From yon poor cottage bursting seem to flow.
‘Tis honest Sarah. Sixpence–Harry’s come,
And, after all his toils, got safely home.
“Welcome, old soldier, welcome from the wars!
Honour the man, my lads, seam’d o’er with scars!
Come give’s thy hand, and bring the t’other can,
And tell us all thou’st done, and seen, my man.”
Now expectation stares in every eye,
The jaw falls down, and every soul draws nigh,
With ear turn’d up, and head held all awry.
“Why, sir, the papers tell you all that’s done,
What battle’s lost, and what is hardly won.
But when the eye looks into private woes,
And sees the grief that from one battle flows,
Small cause of triumph can the bravest feel,
For never yet were brave hearts made of steel.
It happen’d once, in storming of a town,
When our bold men had push’d the ramparts down,
We found them starving, the last loaf was gone,
Beef was exhausted, and they flour had none;
Their springs we drain, to ditches yet they fly–
The stagnant ditch lent treacherous supply;
For soon the putrid source their blood distains,
And the quick fever hastens through their veins.
In the same room the dying and the dead–
Nay, sometimes, even in the self–same bed,–
You saw the mother with her children lie,
None but the father left to close the sunken eye.
In a dark corner, once myself I found
A youth whose blood was pouring through the wound;
No sister’s hand, no tender mother’s eye
To stanch that wound was fondly watching by;
Famine had done her work, and low were laid
The loving mother and the blooming maid.
He rais’d his eyes, and bade me strike the blow,
I’ve nought to lose, he cried, so fear no foe;
No foe is near, I softly made reply,
A soldier, friend, would save and not destroy.
A drop of cordial in my flask I found;
(And I myself am sovereign for a wound;
I’ll bleed you all, lads! if you should be ill,
And in the toothache I’ve no little skill.
Our drummer too, poor man, dealt much in horns,
And I’ve his very knack of cutting corns.)
Well; as I dress’d the youth, I found ’twas he
That oft had charm’d the sentinels and me;
From post to post like lightning he would fly,
And pour down thunder from his red–hot sky;
We prais’d him for’t,–so I my captain told,
For well I knew he lik’d the foe that’s bold;
So then the surgeon took him in his charge,
And the captain made him prisoner at large.”
“Was he a Spanishman, or Frenchman, whether?
But it’s no matter; they’re all rogues together!”
“You’re much mistaken: Goodness I have found
Spring like the grass that clothes the common ground;
Some more, some less, you know, grows every where;
Some soils are fertile, and some are but bare.
Nay, ‘mongst the Indians I’ve found kindly cheer,
And as much pity as I could do here!
Once in their woods I stray’d a length of way,
And thought I’d known the path that homeward lay;
We’d gone to forage, but I lost the rest,
Which, till quite out of hearing, never guess’d.
I hollow’d loud, some voices made reply,
But not my comrades; not one friend was nigh.
Some men appear’d, their faces painted o’er,
The wampum–belt, and tomahawk they bore;
Their ears were hung with beads, that largely spread
A breadth of wing, and cover’d half the head.
I kiss’d the ground; one older than the rest
Stepp’d forth, and laid his hand upon my breast,
Then seiz’d my arms, and sign’d that I should go,
And learn with them to bend the sturdy bow:
I bow’d and follow’d; sadly did I mourn,
And never more expected to return.”
Here Sarah sobb’d, and stepp’d behind the door,
And with her tears bedew’d the dusty floor.
“We travell’d on some days through woods alone,
At length we reach’d their happy silent home.
A few green acres the whole plot compose,
Which woods surround, and fencing rocks enclose,
Skirting whose banks, a river fond of play
Sometimes stood still, and sometimes ran away;
The branching deer would drink the dimpl’d tide,
And crop the wild herbs on its flowery side,–
Around the silent hut would sometimes stray,
Then, at the sight of man, bound swift away;
But all in vain; the hunter’s flying dart
Springs from the bow, and quivers in the heart.
A mother and four daughters here we found,
With shells encircled, and with feathers crown’d,
Bright pebbles shone amidst the plaited hair,
While lesser shells surround the moon–like ear.
With screams at sight of me away they flew
(For fear or pleasure springs from what is new);
Then, to their brothers, screaming still they ran,
Thinking my clothes and me the self–same man;
When bolder grown, they ventur’d something near,
Light touch’d my coat, but started back with fear.
When time and use had chas’d their fears away,
And I had learned some few short words to say,
They oft would tell me, would I but allow
The rampant lion to o’erhang my brow,
And on my cheek the spotted leopard wear,
Stretch out my ears, and let my arms go bare.”
“O mercy on us!” cried the listeners round,
Their gaping wonder bursting into sound.
“Tho’ different in their manners, yet their heart
Was equal mine in every better part.
Brave to a fault, if courage fault can be;
Kind to their fellows, doubly kind to me.
Some little arts my travell’d judgment taught,
Which, tho’ a prize to them, seem’d greater than they ought.
“Needless with bows for me the woods to roam,
I therefore tried to do some good at home.
The birds, or deer, or boars, were all their food,
Save the swift salmon of the silver flood;
And when long storms the winter–stores would drain,
Hunger might ask the stinted meal in vain.
Some goats I saw that brows’d the rocks among,
And oft I thought to trap their playful young;
But not till first a fencing hedge surrounds
Their future fields, and the enclosure bounds;
For many a father owns a hatchet here,
Which falls descending to his wealthy heir.
The playful kid we from the pitfall bring,
O’erspread with earth, and many a tempting thing;
Light lay the branches o’er the treacherous deep,
And favourite herbs among the long grass creep.
The little prisoner soon is taught to stand,
And crop the food from the betrayer’s hand.
A winter–store now rose up to their view,
And in another field the clover grew;
But, without scythes or hooks, how could we lay
The ridgy swathe and turn it into hay;
At last, of stone we form’d a sort of spade,
Broad at the end, and sharp, for cutting made;
We push’d along, the tender grass gave way,
And soon the sun turn’d every pile to hay.
It was not long before the flocks increased,
And I first gave the unknown milky feast.
Some clay I found, and useful bowls I made,
Tho’, I must own, I marr’d the potter’s trade;
Yet use is every thing–they did the same
As if from China the rude vessels came.
The curdling cheese I taught them next to press;
And twirl’d on strings the roasting meat to dress.
In all the woods the Indian corn was found,
Whose grains I scatter’d in the faithful ground;
The willing soil leaves little here to do,
Or asks the furrows of the searching plough;
Yet something like one with delight I made,
For tedious are the labours of the spade,
The coulter and the sock were pointed stone,
The eager brothers drew the traces on,
I stalk’d behind, and threw the faithful grain,
And wooden harrows closed the earth again:
Soon sprung the seed, and soon ’twas in the ear,
Nor wait the golden sheaves the falling year;
In this vast clime two harvests load the field,
And fifty crops th’ exhaustless soil can yield.
“Some bricks I burnt, and now a house arose,
Finer than aught the Indian chieftain knows;
A wicker door, with clay–like plaster lin’d,
Serv’d to exclude the piercing wintry wind;
A horn–glaz’d window gave a scanty light,
But lamps cheer’d up the gloom of lengthen’d night;
The cotton shrub through all the woods had run,
And plenteous wicks our rocks and spindles spun.
Around their fields the yam I taught to grow,
With all the fruits they either love or know.
The bed I rais’d from the damp earth, and now
Some little comfort walk’d our dwelling through.
My fame was spread: the neighbouring Indians came,
View’d all our works, and strove to do the same.
The wampum–belt my growing fame records,
That tells great actions without help of words.
I gain’d much honour, and each friend would bring
‘Mong various presents many a high–priz’d thing.
And when, with many a prayer, I ask once more
To seek my friends, and wander to the shore,
They all consent,–but drop a sorrowing tear,
While many a friend his load of skins would bear.
Riches were mine; but fate will’d it not so,–
They grew the treasure of the Spanish foe;
My Indian friends threw down their fleecy load,
And, like the bounding elk, leap’d back into the wood.
“What though a prisoner! countrymen I found,
Heard my own tongue, and bless’d the cheerful sound;
It seem’d to me as if my home was there,
And every dearest friend would soon appear.
At length a cartel gave us back to share
The wounds and dangers of a bloody war.
Peace dawn’d at last, and now the sails were spread,
Some climb the ship unhurt, some few half dead.
Not this afflicts the gallant soldier’s mind,
What is’t to him tho’ limbs are left behind!
Chelsea a crutch and bench will yet supply,
And be the veteran’s dear lost limb and eye!
“When English ground first struck the sailor’s view,
Huzza! for England, roar’d the jovial crew.
The waving crutch leaped up in every hand,
While one poor leg was left alone to stand;
The very name another limb bestows,
And through the artery the blood now flows.
We reach’d the shore, and kiss’d the much–lov’d ground,
And fondly fancied friends would crowd around;
But few with wretchedness acquaintance claim,
And little pride is every where the same.
“In coming down, the seeing eye of day
Darken’d around me, and I lost my way.
Where’er a light shot glimmering through the trees,
I thither urg’d my weary trembling knees,
Tapp’d at the door, and begg’d, in piteous tone,
They’d let a wandering soldier find his home;
They barr’d the door, and bade me beg elsewhere,
They’d no spare beds for vagabonds to share.
This was the tale where’er I made a halt,
And greater houses grew upon the fault;
The dog was loos’d to keep me far at bay,
And saucy footmen bade me walk away,
Or else a constable should find a home
For wandering captains from the wars new come.
Alas! thought I, is this the soldier’s praise
For loss of health, of limb, and length of days?
And is this England?–England, my delight!
For whom I thought it glory but to fight–
That has no covert for the soldier’s night!
I turn’d half fainting, led through all the gloom
By the faint glimmerings of the clouded moon.
One path I kept, that seem’d at times to end,
And oft refus’d the guiding clew to lend;
The thread unhop’d as oft again I found,
Till it forsook the open fields around;
By slow degrees, to towering woods it crept,
As if beneath their shade it nightly slept.
I here had halted, lest some beasts of prey,
In midnight theft, had pac’d the treacherous way,
But that a twinkling light sometimes appear’d,
Sometimes grew dim, and sometimes brightly clear’d;
This could not be the lure of beasts of prey;
They know no art of imitating day,
Much pleas’d I thought. The mazy path yet led
Through shrubby copse, by taller trees o’erspread;
A wimpling rill ran on, and wreath’d its way
Through tufts of flowers, that made its borders gay;
And now a rock the parting leaves unfold,
On which a withering oak had long grown old,
The curling ivy oft attempts to hide
Its sad decay, with robes of verdant pride,
Yet through her leafy garb the eye can peer,
And see it buys the youthful dress too dear.
A hollow cavern now methought I spied,
Where clustering grapes came wandering down its side,
Between whose leaves a ray of light would dart,
That both rejoic’d and terrified my heart.
I ventur’d in,–my breath I scarcely drew,
Nought save a taper met my wondering view;
An inner cavern beamed with fuller light,
And gave a holy hermit to my sight;
Himself and Piety seem’d but the same,
And Wisdom for grey hairs another name;
Some traces yet of sorrow might be found,
That o’er his features walk’d their pensive round;
Devotion seem’d to bid them not to stray,
But human feelings gave the wanderers way.
His eye he rais’d from the instructive page,
An eye more sunk by wearing grief than age;
Surprise a moment o’er his features spread,
And gave them back their once accustom’d red.”
“Welcome my son–a hermit’s welcome share,
And let the welcome mend the scanty fare.
A soldier’s toils the softest couch requires,
The strengthening food, and renovating fires;
Not such the hermit’s needy cell bestows,
Pamper’d alone by luxury of woes,
The falling tears bedew the crusty bread,
And the moss pillow props the weary head;
The limpid brook the heats of thirst allay,
And gather’d fruits the toilsome search repay;
When hunger calls, these are a feastful store,
And languid Sorrow asks for nothing more;
Sufficient that her eye unseen can weep,
Stream while awake, and flow yet more in sleep.
‘Tis now twelve years since Solitude first drew
Her closing curtain round my opening view,
Since first I left my once delightful home,
Along with Grief and Solitude to roam.”
Much I express’d my wonder, how a mind
So stor’d as his could herd from all mankind.
“You speak,” he said, “like one whose soul is free,
Slave to no wish, nor chain’d to misery.
When ceaseless anguish clouds the summer’s sky,
And fairest prospects tarnish in the eye;
When cheerful scenes spread every lure in vain,
And sweet Society but adds to pain;
When weeping Memory incessant brings
The sad reversion of all former things,
And show–like Fancy all her colouring lends,
To gild those views that opened with our friends:
When joyful days through the whole year would run,
And Mirth set out and travel with the sun;
When Youth and Pleasure hand in hand would stray,
And every month was little less than May;
When changing Fortune shifts th’ incessant scene,
And only points to where our joys have been,
Is it a wonder from the world we run,
And all its fleeting empty pageants shun?
“There is a something in a well known view,
That seems to shew our long past pleasures through;
Sure in the eye a fairy land is found,
When former scenes bring former friends around.
Let but the woods, the rocks, the streams appear,
And every friend you see and think you hear;
Their words, their dress, their every look, you find
Swell to the sight, and burst upon the mind;
Though many a spring has lent the blossom gay,
And many an autumn blown the leaf away,
Unchang’d the lasting images remain,
Of which Remembrance ever holds the chain.
E’en the mind’s eye a glassy mirror shews,
And far too deeply her bold pencil draws;
The life–like pictures rise before the sight,
Glow through the day, and sparkle through the night.
Ah! sure e’en now my Ethelind appears,
Though dimly seen through this sad vale of tears.
That winning form, where elegance has wove
The thousand softnesses of gentlest love;
That meaning eye, that artless blushing cheek,
Which leaves so little for the tongue to speak;
The nameless graces of her polish’d mind;
That laughing wit, and serious sense refined;
That altogether which no art can reach,
And which ’tis nature’s very rare to teach;
That nameless something which pervades the soul,
Wins not by halves, but captivates the whole;
Yet, if one feature shone before the rest,
‘Twas surely Pity by Religion drest.
Have I not seen the softly stealing tear,
Hung in her eye, like gem in Ethiop’s ear!
Whilst the dark orb the glittering diamond shed,
From her fair cheek the frighten’d roses fled,
Asham’d that, such a gem so sweetly clear,
Aught, save the lily, should presume to wear.
“Sure there’s a pleasure in recounting woes!
And some relief in every tear that flows!
Else why call back those days for ever flown,
And with them every joy this heart can own?
Pleasure and pain is the sad mixture still,
Taste but the good, and you must taste the ill;
Dear Recollection is a sorceress fair
That brings up pleasures livelier than they were;
Delighted Fancy dwells upon the view,
Compares old scenes with what she meets with new;
The present hour grows dull, her charms decay,
And, one by one, drop silently away.
Neglect succeeds–Neglect, the worst of foes,
That married love or single friendship knows,
Whose torpid soul congeal’d in stupor lies,
Nor sees one charm, nor hears the smothering sighs;
Sees not the hourly load of comforts brought
By fond affection, watching every thought,
Nor the heart beating with the wish to please,–
Cold, cold Neglect, nor hears, nor feels, nor sees!
“Thus, in the present hour too, oft slides by
The many a charm that might detain the eye;
But just as if from woes we could not part,
We veil the sight, and close shut up the heart;
So I myself would ne’er forget the day
When Ethelinda vowed her heart away.
Our births were equal, but exalted views
For the fair daughter bade the sire refuse.
O’er seas I roam, in quest of much–priz’d wealth,
Though, after all, the greatest good is health!
Where’er I roam’d, my Ethelind was there,
My soul’s companion join’d me every where;
Whatever scenes entrapped my travelling eye,
My fancied Ethelind stood smiling by,
Her just opinion met my listening ear,
And her remarks on men, and climes, I hear.
This was not absence, or it was a dream,
Which, though unreal, yet would real seem.
Each day the tongue–like pen some story told,
Of growing love, or less increasing gold;
Yet fortune frown’d not; and, in lengthening time,
One day I saw that mark’d her to be mine.
Hail! heaven–taught letters, that through years convey
The deathless thought, as if just breath’d to–day!
That gives the converse of an absent friend,
And, for a moment, makes that absence end;
For, while the eager eyes the lines run o’er,
Distance steps back, and drags the chain no more;
For one short moment the dear friends we see
Close by our side, just as they used to be.
Such sweet delusions are not form’d to last,
And Fancy’s visions far too soon are past.
No such delights my heart–wrote lines attend,
They met the hand of a deceitful friend;
Her brother, anxious for a lord’s success,
Thought it no sin to blast my happiness,
Kept up my letters, and base stories told,
That I had sold myself to age, and gold.
Her good opinion baffled long the tale,
And love for long kept down the struggling scale.
But when, from year to year, Hope pointed on,
And the last hope with the last year was gone,
She tried to think I must be base, and strove
To scorn the man who could give up her love;
Yet her soft heart no other flame confessed,
It lodged the tenant of her faithful breast.
“Home I return’d, much wearied out with woes,
And every fear that fretful silence knows.
Fear for her death was far my greatest dread;
How could I bear to think her with the dead!
Did she but live, methought my griefs might end,
When the warm lover cool’d into the friend.
I reach’d my home, and quick inquiries made,
Found her unmarried–found she was not dead.
And now, to know the cause of all my woe,
With hope and fear, and joy, and grief, I go;
A thousand fears would stop me in my way,
A thousand hopes forbid one moment’s stay.
As nigh the house with anxious step I drew,
Fond recollections crowded all the view;
I felt a tear creep round and round my eye,
That shame of man, and yet I know not why.
While at the door her faithful maid I saw,
The short quick breath I scarce had power to draw;
Where–is–your la–my lips no more would move.”
“She’s in the arbour, sir, you us’d to love.”
“Something like hope a cordial drop bestow’d,
The heart grew warm, and the pale cheek now glow’d.
Near to the arbour silently I drew,
And trembling look’d the leafy lattice through;
The sprightly air which once lit up her face,
To pensive softness long had given place;
Its gentle charms around her features crowd,
And tenderest feeling her fine figure bow’d;
More dear she seem’d, more interesting far,
Than when her eye was call’d the evening star;
On her fair hand she lean’d her drooping head,
And many a tear bedew’d the page she read;
‘Twas Milton’s Paradise–the book I knew,
Once my own profile on the leaf I drew,
And wrote beneath this truth–dictated line–
`With thee conversing I forget all time;’
Her eye I saw ran every feature o’er,
And scann’d the line where truth seem’d writ no more;
She shook her head, its meaning well I knew:
“’Twas even thus, ye once lov’d lines adieu;”
The book she shut–so softly was it clos’d,
As if life’s joys alone were there repos’d.
“I walk’d around, the crimping grass would say,–
Some heavy foot has brush’d our dews away;
She started up, and, shaking off the tear,
Strove hard to make the pearl–set eye more clear;
But when my form the parting leaves betray’d,
And fuller light around my features play’d,
She grows a statue, wrought by Michael’s art,
A marble figure, with a human heart,
More pale, more cold, than Medici can seem,
Or all the forms that from the quarry teem.
I bow’d, but spoke not, injur’d as I thought,
And wishing much to show the sense I ought;
I durst not trust th’ impatient tongue to move,
For, ah! I felt it would but talk of love.
I silent stand.” “What art thou, vision, say,
Why dost thou cross a wretched wanderer’s way?
Sure ’tis the whimsy of a feverish mind
That fancies forms none but itself can find!”
“I bow’d again.” “Oh! speak if thou art he
That once was dear–so very dear to me?”
“Yes, Ethelind, most sure–too sure I’m he
That once was dear, so very dear to thee;
Why has thy heart its fondness all forborne
To swell my sails, and ask my quick return?”
“A married man!–she sharply made reply,”
With much resentment sparkling in her eye,–
“A married man has every right to hear
What thoughts pursue us through the changing year!
Yes, I will tell you: happy was the day
In which you gave your heart and hand away.
I gave not mine, yet free from every vow
That would have tied me to a wretch like you.
I feel as blissful in my single state,
As you, no doubt, feel in your wealthy mate!”
She rose to go: “My Ethelind, forbear!
Some cruel monster has abus’d your ear;
Your faithful lover see before you stand,
Your faithful lover dares to claim your hand;
No other vows that plighted faith could stain,
No other loves melt o’er this heart again!
Let easy fortune nameless comforts spread,
And slope for life the soft descending tread.
No needful cares, to study how the year
Shall rule its squares, and run its circles clear;
The generous hand no close restraint shall know,
But opening bounty from the fingers flow.
The saddest sight the pitying eyes receive,
Is to see wretchedness with nought to give;
The heart–wrung tear, though e’er so fully shed,
Brings no warm clothing, and affords no bread.
On you shall pleasure wait with ready call,
Speed to the play, or hasten to the ball;
Where safest ease her flowery carpet throws,
And gilded domes their rainbow–lights dispose;
Where splendour turns e’en common things to show,
And plain good comforts ornamental grow.
‘Midst scenes like these would Ethelinda blaze,
While wreathing diamonds lend their mingling rays;
Wealth is her own, for it is mine to give,
As it is hers, to bid me how to live.
But should domestic peace her soul allure,
For splendour but hides grief, it cannot cure,–
If in sweet converse hours should steal away,
While we still wander at the close of day;
If every wish preventing love should see,
And all the world we to ourselves should be,
I only wait the soft assenting smile,
To be whate’er her heart would ask the while;
O yes, dear friend! I yet can read the line,
`With thee conversing I forget all time;’
Domestic peace has every charm for me,
How doubly charming when enjoy’d with thee!
“Now honour pleaded that my fame should bleed,
And life is rul’d by her detested creed;
This idol, honour, at whose shrine appears
The heart–broke friend, dissolv’d in endless tears.
He, fiery youth, impatient of control,
And the grey veteran sorry from his soul,
Th’ injuring and the injur’d both repair,
And both expect her laurel wreath to wear;
It matters not where right or wrong began,
The man who fights must be an honest man,
Though every baseness that the heart can know
Should damp his soul, and keep his sword in awe;
Sole proof of excellence such warriors give–
Wretches who die, because they dare not live!
The guilty breast is ever up in arms,
And the least look the conscious soul alarms!
Should your quick eye the shuffling card detect,
Or should the gamester think you but suspect,
His injur’d honour dares you to the fight,
And all the world admits the challenge right!
Not to accept it blasts a virtuous fame,
And links your memory with eternal shame;
It matters not though pure your life appears
On the long record of revolving years;
Though heaven you fear, and heaven’s forbidding law,
That stamps him criminal who dares to draw,
Yet man, vain man, breaks through the laws of heaven,
Dies by the sword, and hopes to be forgiven;
For what we duels from high fashion call,
Is Suicide, or Murder, after all!
“Sometimes the heart almost approves the deed,
When barbarous wounds make reputation bleed;
Of all the crimes of any shape or dye,
That looks the blackest in true feeling’s eye,
If a dear sister’s purity we feel,
Nature cries out–where is th’ avenging steel?
Avenging steel! how impotent the word,
And all the threats and cures that tend the sword!
“Sweet Reputation, like a lily fair,
Scents every breath that winnows through the air;
The colouring sunbeam on its whiteness plays,
And dances round and round with gilding rays;
Anon dark clouds these gilding rays withhold,
And the leaf shrivels with the sudden cold;
A blighting vapour sails along the skies,
And the meek lily droops its head, and dies:
Nor can a sword, or the depending pen,
Clear the lost female character again;
The vindication better never hear,–
That fame is safest that has nought to clear;
And female fame is such a tender flower,
It cannot even bear a pitying shower;
Courage in man is something near as nice,
Which life must buy, and wear at any price.
“Much ‘gainst my conscience, and against heaven’s law,
My destin’d brother to account I draw;
Against his life I meant no hand to rear,–
I meant but with the world to settle clear;
A self–defence, e’en in th’ appointed field,
Was all the sword I ever thought to wield.
Hard was the onset; in the fatal strife
His hand I saw aim’d only at my life;
I wav’d its point, still hoping to disarm,
And guard both lives secure from every harm.
I parried long; he made a lounging stroke,
And my sad weapon in his bosom broke.”
“’Tis past he said–much injur’d man, adieu!
I’ve done you wrong–but you’ll forgive it now.”
“In that sad moment every pang I found
That darts through father’s, brother’s, sister’s, wound!
In what new lights I then saw Honour’s creed,
How sunk in sin seem’d the detested deed;
The world’s applause was stripped of all its charms,
And the whole Conscience met the Man in arms,
Guilt, sorrow, pity, warr’d within the breast,
With sad remorse, that never can have rest.
My weeping Ethelind now, too, I saw,
Lost in the floods of never ending woe!
For, ah! what woes can ever hope an end
That mourn a brother slaughter’d by a friend!
Then from his breast some brief, brief lines he drew,–
The blots were many, though the words were few:”
“Fly me, for ever, it is time we part,
You’ve kill’d a brother, and you’ve broke a heart.”
“Tortur’d in soul from place to place I flew,
But swift–wing’d thought as swiftly would pursue;
Unless from memory our thoughts can run,
How vain to journey round and round the sun.
At last this solitude my sorrow sought,
For cities leave no bar for entering thought;
I here have liv’d, in hopes the time will come,
That makes my cell my wish’d–for silent tomb.”
“His tears fresh flow’d, and mine ran down my cheek,
Our griefs were such as neither tongue could speak;
At last we parted–he to endless woe,
While happy I to wife and children go.”
Now scolding Nancy to the ale–house flies–
“What are you doing–hearing Harry’s lies!
Thomas, get in, and do not sit to drink,
There’s work enough at home, if you would think!”
And now the sisters take their evening walk;
One fam’d for goodness, and one fam’d for joke,
For physic, too, some little is renown’d,
With every salve that loves to heal the wound;
The pulse she feels with true mysterious air,
While Mrs Graham of strengthening broths takes care.
That sickness must be hopeless of all end,
Which her good home–made wine no way can mend;
The brother then his skill of medicine tries,
And rarely in his hands the lingering patient dies.
Now the white owl flits o’er the dusky ground,
Foreruns the night, and makes his trumpet sound.
The winds are lull’d asleep, and now you hear
The murmuring stream hum slumber in your ear.
Sweet Row, flow on, and be thy little vale
The future glory of the happy tale;
Long be thy banks bespread as they are now
With nibbling sheep, or richer feeding cow;
With rock, and scar, and cottage on the hill,
With curling smoke, and busy useful mill;
Long may yon trees afford their leafy screen,
And long from winter save the fading green;
In every season in their speckled pride,
Safe may the trout through all thy windings glide;
Safe may the fowl adown thy waters swim,
Bathe the webb’d foot, or o’er thy mirror skim,
Nor yet the schoolboy cast the deadly stone,
And take that life, no frailer than his own;
For peace and plenty, and the cheerful tale,
For happy wives, for mirth, and honest ale,
For maidens fair, and swains of matchless truth,
And all the openness of artless youth,
Whene’er a Cumbrian Village shall be fam’d,
Let Stoklewath be not the last that’s nam’d!
About the Author:
Susanna Blamire (1747–1794) was a British poet from Cumbria.