Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

To give the denizens of wood and wild,
Nature's free race, to each her free-born child.
Hence hast thou marked, with grief, fair London's race
Mocked with the boon of one poor Easter chase,
And longed to send them forth as free as when
Poured o'er Chantilly the Parisian train,
When musket, pistol, blunderbuss, combined,
And scarce the field-pieces were left behind !
A squadron's charge each leveret's heart dismayed,
On every covey fired a bold brigade-
La Douce Humanité approved the sport,
For great the alarm indeed, yet small the hurt.
Shouts patriotic solemnized the day,
And Seine re-echoed Vive la Liberté !
But mad Citoyen, meek Monsieur again,
With some few added links resumes his chain;
Then, since such scenes to France no more are known,
Come, view with me a hero of thine own!
One, whose free actions vindicate the cause
Of sylvan liberty o'er feudal laws.

Seek we yon glades, where the proud oak o'ertops Wide-waving seas of birch and hazel copse, Leaving between deserted isles of land, Where stunted heath is patched with ruddy sand; And lonely on the waste the yew is seen, Or straggling hollies spread a brighter green. Here, little worn, and winding dark and steep, Our scarce-marked path descends yon dingle deep: Follow—but heedful, cautious of a trip, In earthly mire philosophy may slip. Step slow and wary o'er that swampy stream, Till, guided by the charcoal's smothering steam, We reach the frail yet barricaded door Of hovel formed for poorest of the poor; No hearth the fire, no vent the smoke receives, The walls are wattles, and the covering leaves; For, if such hut, our forest statutes say, Rise in the progress of one night and day; Though placed where still the Conqueror's hests o'erawe, And his son's stirrup shines the badge of law; The builder claims the unenviable boon, To tenant dwelling, framed as slight and soon As wigwam wild, that shrouds the native frore On the bleak coast of frost-barred Labrador.

? Such is the law in the New Forest, Hampshire, tending greatly to increase the various settlements of thieves, smugglers, and deerstealers, who infest it. In the forest courts the presiding judge wears as a badge of office an antique stirrup, said to have been that of Wil. liam Rufus. See Mr. William Rose's spirited poem, entitled “ The Red

Approach, and through the unlatticed window peep-
Nay, shrink not back, the inmate is asleep;
Sunk ’mid yon sordid blankets, till the sun
Stoop to the west, the plunderer's toils are done.
Loaded and primed, and prompt for desperate hand,
Rifle and fowling-piece beside him stand;
While round the hut are in disorder laid
The tools and booty of his lawless trade;
For force or fraud, resistance or escape,
The crow, the saw, the bludgeon, and the crape.
His pilfered powder in yon nook he hoards,
And the filched lead the church's roof affords-
(Hence shall the rector's congregation fret,
That, while his sermon 's dry, his walls are wet.)
The fish-spear barbed, the sweeping net are there,
Doe-hides, and pheasant plumes, and skins of hare,
Cordage for toils, and wiring for the snare ;
Bartered for game from chase or warren won,
Yon cask holds moonlight,s run when moon was none;
And late-snatched spoils lie stowed in hutch apart,
To wait the associate higgler's evening cart.

Look on his pallet foul, and mark his rest :
What scenes perturbed are acting in his breast !
His sable brow is wet and wrung with pain,
And his dilated nostril toils in vain;
For short and scant the breath each effort draws,
And 'twixt each effort Nature claims a pause.
Beyond the loose and sable neckcloth stretched,
His sinewy throat seems by convulsions twitched,
While the tongue falters, as to utterance loth,
Sounds of dire import-watch word, threat, and oath.
Though, stupefied by toil, and drugged with gin,
The body sleep, the restless guest within
Now plies on wood and wold his lawless trade,
Now in the fangs of justice wakes dismayed.-

“ Was that wild start of terror and despair,
Those bursting eyeballs, and that wildered air,
Signs of compunction for a murdered hare ?
Do the locks bristle and the eyebrows arch,
For grouse or partridge massacred in March ?”_

No, scoffer, no! Attend, and mark with awe,
There is no wicket in the gate of law !
He, that would e'er so lightly set ajar
That awful portal, must undo each bar;
Tempting occasion, habit, passion, pride,
Will join to storm the breach, and force the barrier wide.

That ruffian, whom true men avoid and dread, Whom bruisers, poachers, smugglers, call Black'Ned, & A cant name for smuggled spirits.

Was Edward Mansell once ;—the lightest heart,
That ever played on holiday his part!
The leader he in every Christmas game,
The harvest-feast grew blither when he came,
And liveliest on the chords the bow did glance,
When Edward named the tune and led the dance.
Kind was his heart, his passions quick and strong,
Hearty his laugh, and jovial was his song;
And if he loved a gun, his father swore,
“ 'Twas but a trick of youth would soon be o'er,
Himself had had the same, some thirty years before.”

But he, whose humours spurn law's awful yoke,
Must herd with those by whom law's bonds are broke.
The common dread of justice soon allies
The clown, who robs the warren, or excise,
With sterner felons trained to act more dread,
Even with the wretch by whom his fellow bled.
Then,-as in plagues the foul contagions pass,
Leavéning and festering the corrupted mass,-
Guilt leagues with guilt, while mutual motives draw,
Their hope impunity, their fear the law;
Their foes, their friends, their rendezvous the same,
Till the revenue balked, or pilsered game,
Flesh the young culprit, and example leads
To darker villany, and direr deeds.

Wild howled the wind the forest glades along, And oft the owl renewed her dismal song; Around the spot where erst he felt the wound, Red William's spectre walked his midnight round. When o'er the swamp he cast his blighting look, From the green marshes of the stagnant brook The bittern's sullen sbout the sedges shook ! The waning moon, with storm-presaging gleam, Now gave and now withheld her doubtful beam; The old Oak stooped his arms, then flung them high, Bellowing and groaning to the troubled sky'Twas then, that, couched amid the brushwood sere, In Malwood-walk young Mansell watched the deer: The fattest buck received his deadly shotThe watchful keeper heard, and sought the spot. Stout were their hearts, and stubborn was their strife, O'erpowered at length the Outlaw drew his knife ! Next morn a corpse was found upon the fellThe rest his waking agony may tell !

SONG.
Published in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1809.
OH, say not, my love, with that mortified air,

That your spring-time of pleasure is flown,
Nor bid me to maids that are younger repair,

For those raptures that still are thine own.
Though April his temples may wreathe with the vine,

Its tendrils in infancy curled,
'Tis the ardour of August matures us the wine,

Whose life-blood enlivens the world.
Though thy form, that was fashioned as light as a fay's,

Has assumed a proportion more round,
And thy glance, that was bright as a falcon's at gaze,

Looks soberly now on the ground,
Enough, after absence to meet me again,

Thy steps still with ecstasy move;
Enough, that those dear sober glances retain

For me the kind language of love.

[blocks in formation]

(The rest was illegible, the fragment being torn across by a racket-stroke.)

EPITAPH.

DESIGNED FOR A MONUMENT TO BE ERECTED IN LICHFIELD CATHE

DRAL, AGREEABLY TO THE BEQUEST OF THE LATE MISS ANNA
SEWARD, TO DESIGNATE THE BURIAL-PLACE OF HER FATHER,
THE REV. THOMAS SEWARD, A CANON OF THAT CATHEDRAL,
IN WHICH SHE IS HERSELF INTERRED.

Published in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1809.
AMID these aisles, where once his precepts showed
The heavenward pathway which in life he trod,
This simple tablet marks a father's bier,
And those he loved in life, in death are near;
For him, for them, a daughter bade it rise,
Memorial of domestic charities.

Still wouldst thou know why o'er the marble spread,
In female grace, the willow droops her head;

Why on her branches, silent and unstrung,
The minstrel harp is emblematic hung;
What poet's voice is smothered here in dust,
Till waked to join the chorus of the just,
Lo! one brief line an answer sad supplies,
Honoured, beloved, and wept, here SEWARD lies!
Her worth, her warmth of heart, let friendship say,
Go seek her genius in her living lay.

COX AND WYMAN, PRINTERS, GREAT QUEEN STREET, LONDON.

« AnteriorContinuar »