Page images


BORN, 1770; DIED, 1850. Principal Works.—The Wagoner, Peter Bell, The White Doe of Rylstone, Ecclesiastical Sonnets, Yarrow Revisited,

The Excursion.

THE PET LAMB. The dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink; I heard a voice; it said, “Drink, pretty creature, drink!" And looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied A snow-white mountain lamb, with a maiden at its side. No other sheep was near, the lamb was all alone, And by a slender cord was tethered to a stone; With one knee on the grass did the little maiden kneel, While to that mountain lamb she gave its evening meal. The lamb, while from her hand he thus his supper toox, Seemed to feast with head and ears, and his tail with pleasure shooke Now with her empty can the maiden turned away ; But ere ten yards were gone, her footsteps did she stay. “What ails thee, young one, what? why pull so at thy cord ? Is it not well with thee, well both for bed and board ? Thy plot of grass is soft, and green as grass can be ; Rest, little young one, rest, what is't that aileth thee? Rest, little young one, rest; hast thou forgot the day When my

father found thee first in places far away? Many flocks were on the hills, but thou wert owned And thy mother from thy side for evermore was gone. He took thee in his arms, and in pity brought thee home : A blessed day for thee! then whither would'st thou roam ? A faithful nurse thou hast, the dam that did thee yean Upon the mountain tops no kinder could have been. Thou know'st that twice a day I have brought thee in this can, Fresh water from the brook, as clear as ever ran : And twice in the day, when the ground is wet with dew, I bring thee draughts of milk, warm milk it is, and new. Why bleat so after me, why puli so at thy chain ? Sleep-and at break of day I will come to thee again.

[ocr errors]


If the situation of man be considered in all its relations and dependencies, a striking inconsistency will be apparent to a very cursory observer.

We have sure warrant for believing that our abode here is to perform a comparatively insignificant part of our existence, and that on our conduct in this life will depend the happiness of the life to come ; yet, our actions daily give the lie to this proposition, inasmuch as we commonly act like men who have no thought but for the present scene, and to whom the grave is the boundary of anticipation. This too is not the only paradox which humanity furnishes to the eye of a thinking man. It is very generally the case, that we spend our whole lives in the pursuit of objects, which common experience informs us are not capable of conferring that pleasure and satisfaction which we expect. Our prospects are uniformly directed to one point;-happiness, in whatever garb it be clad, and under whatever figure shadowed, is the great aim of the busy multitudes, whom we behold toiling through the vale of life, in such an infinite diversity of occupation, and with such dissimilar views.

The misfortune is, that we seek happiness where it is not to be found; and the cause of wonder is, that the experience of ages should not have guarded us against so fatal, and so universal an error. It is from the mistakes and miscalculations of mankind, that



that flood of misery arises which overwhelms thu whole race, and resounds wherever the footsteps of man have penetrated. It is the lamentable error of placing bliss in vicious indulgences. It is the blind folly of sacrificing the welfare of the future, to the opportunity of immediate guilty gratification, which destroys the harmony of society, and poisons the peace of all who yield to it.

I would therefore exhort you earnestly to beware oy what objects you fix your hopes.

Your fate will probably depend on your early pursuits—it will be these which will give the turn to your character and to your pleasures. I beseech you therefore to read the pages of that book which the wisest and the best of men have acknowledged to be the word of God. You will there find a rule of moral conduct, of which, at one time, the world had not the least idea. If you covet earthly happiness, it is only to be found in the path there laid down; and I confidently promise to you, in a life of simplicity and purity, a life passed in accordance with the divine word, substantial bliss and unruffled peace. All other schemes are fleeting and unsatisfactory. They all entail repentance and bitterness of thought. This alone endureth for ever-this alone embraces equally the present and the future-this alone can arm & man against every calamity, and shed the balm of peace over that period when pleasures have lost their zest, and the mind can no longer look forward to futurity.-Henry Kirke White.


BORN, 1771; DIED, 1832. Principal Works.—The Lay of the Last Minstrel, Marmion, Tlio

Lady of the Lake, Contributions to the Border Blinstitisy, lovels, Plays, and Poems.

WHEN Israel, of the Lord belov'd,

Out from the land of bondage came,
IIer fathers' God before her mov'd,

An awful guide, in smoke and flame.
Py day, along th' astonish'd lands

The cloudy pillar glided slow;
By night, Arabia's crimson'd sanda

Return'd the fiery column’s glow.
Thera rose the choral hymn of praise,

And trump and timbrel answer'd keen,
And Zion's daughters pour'd their lays,

With priests' and warriors' voice betweos.
No portents now our foes amaze,

Forsaken Israel wanders lone;
Our fathers would not know Thy ways,

And Thou hast left them to their own.
But, present still, though now unseen!

When brightly shines the prosp'rous day,
De thoughts of Thee a cloudy screen,

To temper the deceitful ray.
And, oh! when stoops on Judah's path

In shade and storm the frequent night,
Be Thou, long-suffering, slow to wrath,

A burning and a shining light!
Our harps we left by Babel's streams,

The tyrant's jest, the Gentile’s scorn;
No censer round our altar beams,

And mute are timbrel, trump, and kore!
But Thou hast said—the blood of goat,

The flesh of rams, I will not prize ;
A contritc heart, an humble thought,

Are mine accepted sacrifice.


Ir is, indeed, astonishing to what a degree habit and practice, with steady nerves, may remove danger. From the island of the South Stack, boys may be seen frequently scrambling by themselves, or held on by an urchin or two of their own age, letting themselves down the picturesque precipice opposite the island, by a piece of rope so slender, and apparently rotten, that the wonder is that it does not snap at the first strain. Yet, without a particle of fear, heedless of consequences, they will swing themselves to a ledge barely wide enough to admit the foot of a goat, and thence pick their way with or without the rope, to pillage the nest of a Gull, which, if aware of its own powers, might flap them headlong to the bottom.

Here too, as in St. Kilda, accidents are said to be of rare occurrence, though, of course, they do occasionally happen; but escapes, sufficiently appalling to make the blood run cold to hear of, are common enough.

The first we shall mention happened about two miles from the South Stack, on the rocky coast of Rhoscolin. A lady, living near the spot, sent a boy in search of samphire, with a trusty servant to hold the rope at the top. While the boy was dangling midway between sky and water, the servant, who was unused to his situation, whether owing to a sudden dizziness from looking down on the boy's motions, or

« PreviousContinue »