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Cottage Poems
by Patrick Bronte
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Transcribed from the 1893 J. M. Dent edition of "Poems of Charlotte, Emily & Anne Bronte with Cottage Poems by Patrick Bronte" by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk



COTTAGE POEMS.

EPISTLE TO THE REV. J—- B—-, WHILST JOURNEYING FOR THE RECOVERY OF HIS HEALTH.

When warm'd with zeal, my rustic Muse Feels fluttering fain to tell her news, And paint her simple, lowly views With all her art, And, though in genius but obtuse, May touch the heart.

Of palaces and courts of kings She thinks but little, never sings, But wildly strikes her uncouth strings In some pool cot, Spreads o'er the poor hen fostering wings, And soothes their lot.

Well pleased is she to see them smile, And uses every honest wile To mend then hearts, their cares beguile, With rhyming story, And lend them to then God the while, And endless glory.

Perchance, my poor neglected Muse Unfit to harass or amuse, Escaping praise and loud abuse, Unheard, unknown, May feed the moths and wasting dews, As some have done.

Her aims are good, howe'er they end— Here comes a foe, and there a friend, These point the dart and those defend, Whilst some deride her; But God will sweetest comforts blend, Whate'er betide her.

Thus heaven-supported, forth she goes Midst flatterers, critics, friends, and foes; Secure, since He who all things knows Approves her aim, And kindly fans, or fostering blows Her sinking flame.

Hence, when she shows her honest face, And tells her tale with awkward grace, Importunate to gain a place Amongst your friends, To ruthless critics leave her case, And hail her ends.

To all my heart is kind and true, But glows with ardent love for you; Though absent, still you rise in view, And talk and smile, Whilst heavenly themes, for ever new, Our cares beguile.

The happy seasons oft return, When love our melting hearts did burn, As we through heavenly themes were borne With heavenward eyes, And Faith this empty globe would spurn, And sail the skies.

Or, when the rising sun shines bright, Or, setting, leaves the world in night, Or, dazzling, sheds his noon-day light, Or, cloudy, hides, My fancy, in her airy flight, With you resides.

Where far you wander down the vale, When balmy scents perfume the gale, And purling rills and linnets hail The King of kings, To muse with you I never fail, On heavenly things.

Where dashing cataracts astound, And foaming shake the neighbouring ground, And spread a hoary mist around, With you I gaze!— And think, amid'st the deaf'ning sound, On wisdom's ways.

Where rocky mountains prop the skies, And round the smiling landscape lies, Whilst you look down with tearful eyes On grovelling man, My sympathetic fancy flies, The scene to scan.

From Pisgah's top we then survey The blissful realms of endless day, And all the short but narrow way That lies between, Whilst Faith emits a heavenly ray, And cheers the scene.

With you I wander on the shore To hear the angry surges roar, Whilst foaming through the sands they pour With constant roll, And meditations heavenward soar, And charm the soul.

On life's rough sea we're tempest-driven In crazy barks, our canvas riven! Such is the lot to mortals given Where sins resort: But he whose anchor's fixed in heaven Shall gain the port.

Though swelling waves oft beat him back, And tempests make him half a wreck, And passions strong, with dangerous tack, Retard his course, Yet Christ the pilot all will check, And quell their force.

So talk we as we thoughtful stray Along the coast, where dashing spray With rising mist o'erhangs the day, And wets the shore, And thick the vivid flashes play And thunders roar!

Whilst passing o'er this giddy stage, A pious and a learned sage Resolved eternal war to wage With passions fell; How oft you view with holy rage These imps of hell!

See! with what madd'ning force they sway The human breast and lead astray, Down the steep, broad, destructive way, The giddy throng; Till grisly death sweeps all away The fiends among!

As when the mad tornado flies, And sounding mingles earth and skies, And wild confusion 'fore the eyes In terrors dressed. So passions fell in whirlwinds rise, And rend the breast!

But whilst this direful tempest raves, And many barks are dashed to staves, I see you tower above the waves Like some tall rock, Whose base the harmless ocean laves Without a shock!

'Tis He who calmed the raging sea, Who bids the waves be still in thee, And keeps you from all dangers free Amidst the wreck; All sin, and care, and dangers flee E'en at His beck.

And on that great and dreadful day When heaven and earth shall pass away, Each soul to bliss He will convey, That knows His name; And give the giddy world a prey To quenchless flame.

So oft when Sabbaths bade us rest, And heavenly zeal inspired your breast, Obedient to the high behest You preached to all, Whilst God your zealous efforts blessed, And owned your call.

The very thought my soul inspires, And kindles bright her latent fires; My Muse feels heart-warm fond desires, And spreads her wing, And aims to join th' angelic choirs, And sweetly sing.

May rosy Health with speed return, And all your wonted ardour burn, And sickness buried in his urn, Sleep many years! So, countless friends who loudly mourn, Shall dry their tears!

Your wailing flock will all rejoice To hear their much-loved shepherd's voice, And long will bless the happy choice Their hearts have made, And tuneful mirth will swell the noise Through grove and glade.

Your dearer half will join with me To celebrate the jubilee, And praise the Great Eternal Three With throbbing joy, And taste those pleasures pure and free Which never cloy.



THE HAPPY COTTAGERS.

One sunny morn of May, When dressed in flowery green The dewy landscape, charmed With Nature's fairest scene, In thoughtful mood I slowly strayed O'er hill and dale, Through bush and glade.

Throughout the cloudless sky Of light unsullied blue, The larks their matins raised, Whilst on my dizzy view, Like dusky motes, They winged their way Till vanished in The blaze of day.

The linnets sweetly sang On every fragrant thorn, Whilst from the tangled wood The blackbirds hailed the morn; And through the dew Ran here and there, But half afraid, The startled hare.

The balmy breeze just kissed The countless dewy gems Which decked the yielding blade Or gilt the sturdy stems, And gently o'er The charmed sight A deluge shed Of trembling light.

A sympathetic glow Ran through my melting soul, And calm and sweet delight O'er all my senses stole; And through my heart A grateful flood Of joy rolled on To Nature's God.

Time flew unheeded by, Till wearied and oppressed, Upon a flowery bank I laid me down to rest; Beneath my feet A purling stream Ran glittering in The noontide beam.

I turned me round to view The lovely rural scene; And, just at hand, I spied A cottage on the green; The street was clean, The walls were white, The thatch was neat, The window bright.

Bold chanticleer, arrayed In velvet plumage gay, With many an amorous dame, Fierce strutted o'er the way; And motley ducks Were waddling seen, And drake with neck Of glossy green.

The latch I gently raised, And oped the humble door; An oaken stool was placed On the neat sanded floor; An aged man Said with a smile, "You're welcome, sir: Come rest a while."

His coarse attire was clean, His manner rude yet kind: His air, his words, and looks Showed a contented mind; Though mean and poor, Thrice happy he, As by our tale You soon shall see.

But don't expect to hear Of deeds of martial fame, Or that our peasant mean Was born of rank or name, And soon will strut, As in romance, A knight and all In armour glance.

I sing of real life; All else is empty show— To those who read a source Of much unreal woe: Pollution, too, Through novel-veins, Oft fills the mind With guilty stains.

Our peasant long was bred Affliction's meagre child, Yet gratefully resigned, Loud hymning praises, smiled, And like a tower He stood unmoved, Supported by The God he loved.

His loving wife long since Was numbered with the dead His son, a martial youth, Had for his country bled; And now remained One daughter fair, And only she, To soothe his care.

The aged man with tears Spoke of the lovely maid; How earnestly she strove To lend her father aid, And as he ran Her praises o'er, She gently oped The cottage-door.

With vegetable store The table soon she spread, And pressed me to partake; Whilst blushes rosy-red Suffused her face— The old man smiled, Well pleased to see His darling child.

With venerable air He then looked up to God, A blessing craved on all, And on our daily food; Then kindly begged I would excuse Their humble fair, And not refuse.—

The tablecloth, though coarse, Was of a snowy white, The vessels, spoons, and knives Were clean and dazzling bright; So down we sat Devoid of care, Nor envied kings Their dainty fare.

When nature was refreshed, And we familiar grown; The good old man exclaimed, "Around Jehovah's throne, Come, let us all Our voices raise, And sing our great Redeemer's praise!"

Their artless notes were sweet, Grace ran through every line; Their breasts with rapture swelled, Their looks were all divine: Delight o'er all My senses stole, And heaven's pure joy O'erwhelmed my soul.

When we had praised our God, And knelt around His throne, The aged man began In deep and zealous tone, With hands upraised And heavenward eye, And prayed loud And fervently:

He prayed that for His sake, Whose guiltless blood was shed For guilty ruined man, We might that day be fed With that pure bread Which cheers the soul, And living stream, Where pleasures roll.

He prayed long for all, And for his daughter dear, That she, preserved from ill, Might lead for many a year A spotless life When he's no more; Then follow him To Canaan's shore.

His faltering voice then fell, His tears were dropping fast, And muttering praise to God For all His mercies past, He closed his prayer Midst heavenly joys, And tasted bliss Which never cloys.

In sweet discourse we spent The fast declining day: We spoke of Jesus' love, And of that narrow way Which leads, through care And toil below, To streams where joys Eternal flow.

The wondrous plan of Grace, Adoring, we surveyed, The birth of heavenly skill— In Love Eternal laid— Too deep for clear Angelic ken, And far beyond Dim-sighted men.

To tell you all that passed Would far exceed my power; Suffice it, then, to say, Joy winged the passing hour, Till, ere we knew, The setting day Had clad the world In silver grey.

I kindly took my leave, And blessed the happy lot Of those I left behind Lodged in their humble cot; And pitied some In palace walls, Where pride torments, And pleasure palls.

The silver moon now shed A flood of trembling light On tower, and tree, and stream; The twinkling stars shone bright, Nor misty stain Nor cloud was seen O'er all the deep Celestial green.

Mild was the lovely night, Nor stirred a whispering breeze. Smooth was the glassy lake, And still the leafy trees; No sound in air Was heard afloat, Save Philomel's Sweet warbling note.

My thoughts were on the wing, And back my fancy fled To where contentment dwelt In the neat humble shed; To shining courts From thence it ran, Where restless pride Oppresses man.

In fame some search for bliss, Some seek content in gain, In search of happiness Some give the slackened rein To passions fierce, And down the stream Through giddy life, Of pleasures dream.

These all mistake the way, As many more have done: The narrow path of bliss Through God's Eternal Son Directly tends; And only he Who treads this path Can happy be.

Who anchors all above Has still a happy lot, Though doomed for life to dwell E'en in a humble cot, And when he lays This covering down He'll wear a bright Immortal crown.



THE RAINBOW.

The shower is past, and the sky O'erhead is both mild and serene, Save where a few drops from on high, Like gems, twinkle over the green: And glowing fair, in the black north, The rainbow o'erarches the cloud; The sun in his glory comes forth, And larks sweetly warble aloud.

That dismally grim northern sky Says God in His vengeance once frowned, And opened His flood-gates on high, Till obstinate sinners were drowned: The lively bright south, and that bow, Say all this dread vengeance is o'er; These colours that smilingly glow Say we shall be deluged no more.

Ever blessed be those innocent days, Ever sweet their remembrance to me; When often, in silent amaze, Enraptured, I'd gaze upon thee! Whilst arching adown the black sky Thy colours glowed on the green hill, To catch thee as lightning I'd fly, But aye you eluded my skill.

From hill unto hill your gay scene You shifted—whilst crying aloud, I ran, till at length from the green, You shifted, at once to the cloud! So, vain worldly phantoms betray The youths who too eager pursue, When ruined and far led astray, Th' illusion escapes from their view.

Those peaceable days knew no care, Except what arose from my play, My favourite lambkin and hare, And cabin I built o'er the way. No cares did I say? Ah! I'm wrong: Even childhood from cares is not free: Far distant I see a grim throng Shake horrible lances at me!

One day—I remember it still— For pranks I had played on the clown Who lived on the neighbouring hill, My cabin was trod to the ground. Who ever felt grief such as I When crashed by this terrible blow? Not Priam, the monarch of Troy, When all his proud towers lay low.

And grief upon grief was my lot: Soon after, my lambkin was slain; My hare, having strayed from its cot, Was chased by the hounds o'er the plain. What countless calamities teem From memory's page on my view!— How trifling soever you seem, Yet once I have wept over you.

Then cease, foolish heart, to repine; No stage is exempted from care: If you would true happiness find, Come follow! and I'll show you where. But, first, let us take for our guide The Word which Jehovah has penned; By this the true path is descried Which leads to a glorious end.

How narrow this path to our view! How steep an ascent lies before! Whilst, foolish fond heart, laid for you Are dazzling temptations all o'er. What bye-ways with easy descent Invite us through pleasures to stray! Whilst Satan, with hellish intent, Suggests that we ought to obey.

But trust not the father of lies, He tempts you with vanity's dream; His pleasure, when touched, quickly dies, Like bubbles that dance on the stream. Look not on the wine when it glows All ruddy, in vessels of gold; At last it will sting your repose, And death at the bottom unfold. {208}

But lo! an unnatural night Pours suddenly down on the eye; The sun has withdrawn all his light, And rolls a black globe o'er the sky! And hark! what a cry rent the air! Immortal the terrible sound!— The rocks split with honible tear, And fearfully shakes all the ground!

The dead from their slumbers awake, And, leaving their mouldy domain, Make poor guilty mortals to quake As pallid they glide o'er the plain! Sure, Nature's own God is oppressed, And Nature in agony cries;— The sun in his mourning is dressed, To tell the sad news through the skies!

Yet surely some victory's gained, Important, and novel, and great, Since Death has his captives unchained, And widely thrown open his gate! Yes, victory great as a God Could gain over hell, death, and sin, This moment's achieved by the blood Of Jesus, our crucified King.

But all the dread conflict is o'er; Lo! cloud after cloud rolls away; And heaven, serene as before, Breaks forth in the splendour of day! And all the sweet landscape around, Emerged from the ocean of night, With groves, woods, and villages crowned, Astonish and fill with delight!

But see! where that crowd melts away, Three crosses sad spectacles show! Our Guide has not led us astray; Heart! this is the secret you'd know— Two thieves, and a crucified God Hangs awfully mangled between! Whilst fast from His veins spouting blood Runs, dyeing with purple the green!

Behold! the red flood rolls along, And forming a bason below, Is termed in Emanuel's song The fount for uncleanness and woe. Immerged in that precious tide, The soul quickly loses its stains, Though deeper than crimson they're dyed, And 'scapes from its sorrows and pains.

This fountain is opened for you: Go, wash, without money or price; And instantly formed anew, You'll lose all your woes in a trice. Then cease, foolish heart, to repine, No stage is exempted from care; If you would true happiness find, 'Tis on Calvary—seek for it there.



WINTER-NIGHT MEDITATIONS.

Rude winter's come, the sky's o'ercast, The night is cold and loud the blast, The mingling snow comes driving down, Fast whitening o'er the flinty ground. Severe their lots whose crazy sheds Hang tottering o'er their trembling heads: Whilst blows through walls and chinky door The drifting snow across the floor, Where blinking embers scarcely glow, And rushlight only serves to show What well may move the deepest sigh, And force a tear from pity's eye. You there may see a meagre pair, Worn out with labour, grief, and care: Whose naked babes, in hungry mood, Complain of cold and cry for food; Whilst tears bedew the mother's cheek, And sighs the father's grief bespeak; For fire or raiment, bed or board, Their dreary shed cannot afford.

Will no kind hand confer relief, And wipe away the tear of grief? A little boon it well might spare Would kindle joy, dispel their care, Abate the rigour of the night And warm each heart—achievement bright. Yea, brighter far than such as grace The annals of a princely race, Where kings bestow a large domain But to receive as much again, Or e'en corrupt the purest laws, Or fan the breath of vain applause.

Peace to the man who stoops his head To enter the most wretched shed: Who, with his condescending smiles, Poor diffidence and awe beguiles: Till all encouraged, soon disclose The different causes of their woes— The moving tale dissolves his heart: He liberally bestows a part Of God's donation. From above Approving Heaven, in smiles of love, Looks on, and through the shining skies The great Recording Angel flies The doors of mercy to unfold, And write the deed in lines of gold; There, if a fruit of Faith's fair tree, To shine throughout eternity, In honour of that Sovereign dread, Who had no place to lay His head, Yet opened wide sweet Mercy's door To all the desolate and poor, Who, stung with guilt and hard oppressed, Groaned to be with Him, and at rest.

Now, pent within the city wall, They throng to theatre and hall, Where gesture, look, and words conspire, To stain the mind, the passions fire; Whence sin-polluted streams abound, That whelm the country all around. Ah! Modesty, should you be here, Close up the eye and stop the ear; Oppose your fan, nor peep beneath, And blushing shun their tainted breath.

Here every rake exerts his art T' ensnare the unsuspecting heart. The prostitute, with faithless smiles, Remorseless plays her tricks and wiles. Her gesture bold and ogling eye, Obtrusive speech and pert reply, And brazen front and stubborn tone, Show all her native virtue's flown. By her the thoughtless youth is ta'en, Impoverished, disgraced, or slain: Through her the marriage vows are broke, And Hymen proves a galling yoke. Diseases come, destruction's dealt, Where'er her poisonous breath is felt; Whilst she, poor wretch, dies in the flame That runs through her polluted frame.

Once she was gentle, fair, and kind, To no seducing schemes inclined, Would blush to hear a smutty tale, Nor ever strolled o'er hill or dale, But lived a sweet domestic maid, To lend her aged parents aid— And oft they gazed and oft they smiled On this their loved and only child: They thought they might in her be blest, And she would see them laid at rest.

A blithesome youth of courtly mien Oft called to see this rural queen: His oily tongue and wily art Soon gained Maria's yielding heart. The aged pair, too, liked the youth, And thought him naught but love and truth. The village feast at length is come; Maria by the youth's undone: The youth is gone—so is her fame; And with it all her sense of shame: And now she practises the art Which snared her unsuspecting heart; And vice, with a progressive sway, More hardened makes her every day. Averse to good and prone to ill, And dexterous in seducing skill; To look, as if her eyes would melt: T' affect a love she never felt; To half suppress the rising sigh; Mechanically to weep and cry; To vow eternal truth, and then To break her vow, and vow again; Her ways are darkness, death, and hell: Remorse and shame and passions fell, And short-lived joy, with endless pain, Pursues her in a gloomy train.

O Britain fair, thou queen of isles! Nor hostile arms nor hostile wiles Could ever shake thy solid throne But for thy sins. Thy sins alone Can make thee stoop thy royal head, And lay thee prostrate with the dead. In vain colossal England mows, With ponderous strength, the yielding foes; In vain fair Scotia, by her side, With courage flushed and Highland pride, Whirls her keen blade with horrid whistle And lops off heads like tops of thistle; In vain brave Erin, famed afar, The flaming thunderbolt of war, Profuse of life, through blood does wade, To lend her sister kingdom aid: Our conquering thunders vainly roar Terrific round the Gallic shore; Profoundest statesmen vainly scheme— 'Tis all a vain, delusive dream, If treacherously within our breast We foster sin, the deadly pest.

Where Sin abounds Religion dies, And Virtue seeks her native skies; Chaste Conscience hides for very shame, And Honour's but an empty name. Then, like a flood, with fearful din, A gloomy host comes pouring in. First Bribery, with her golden shield, Leads smooth Corruption o'er the field; Dissension wild, with brandished spear, And Anarchy bring up the rear: Whilst Care and Sorrow, Grief and Pain Run howling o'er the bloody plain.

O Thou, whose power resistless fills The boundless whole, avert those ills We richly merit: purge away The sins which on our vitals prey; Protect, with Thine almighty shield Our conquering arms by flood and field, Wheel round the time when Peace shall smile O'er Britain's highly-favoured Isle; When all shall loud hosannas sing To Thee, the great Eternal King!

But hark! the bleak, loud whistling wind! Its crushing blast recalls to mind The dangers of the troubled deep; Where, with a fierce and thundering sweep, The winds in wild distraction rave, And push along the mountain wave With dreadful swell and hideous curl! Whilst hung aloft in giddy whirl, Or drop beneath the ocean's bed, The leaky bark without a shred Of rigging sweeps through dangers dread. The flaring beacon points the way, And fast the pumps loud clanking play: It 'vails not—hark! with crashing shock She's shivered 'gainst the solid rock, Or by the fierce, incessant waves Is beaten to a thousand staves; Or bilging at her crazy side, Admits the thundering hostile tide, And down she sinks!—triumphant rave The winds, and close her wat'ry grave!

The merchant's care and toil are vain, His hopes He buried in the main— In vain the mother's tearful eye Looks for its sole remaining joy— In vain fair Susan walks the shore, And sighs for him she'll see no more— For deep they lie in ocean's womb, And fester in a wat'ry tomb.

Now, from the frothy, thundering main, My meditations seek the plain, Where, with a swift fantastic flight, They scour the regions of the night, Free as the winds that wildly blow O'er hill and dale the blinding snow, Or, through the woods, their frolics play, And whirling, sweep the dusty way, When summer shines with burning glare, And sportive breezes skim the air, And Ocean's glassy breast is fanned To softest curl by Zephyr bland.

But Summer's gone, and Winter's here— With iron sceptre rules the year— Beneath this dark inclement sky How many wanderers faint and die! One, flouncing o'er the treacherous snow, Sinks in the pit that yawns below! Another numbed, with panting lift Inhales the suffocating drift! And creeping cold, with stiffening force, Extends a third, a pallid corse!

Thus death, in varied dreadful form, Triumphant rides along the storm: With shocking scenes assails the sight, And makes more sad the dismal night! How blest the man, whose lot is free From such distress and misery; Who, sitting by his blazing fire, Is closely wrapt in warm attire; Whose sparkling glasses blush with wine Of mirthful might and flavour fine; Whose house, compact and strong, defies The rigour of the angry skies! The ruffling winds may blow their last, And snows come driving on the blast; And frosts their icy morsels fling, But all within is mild as spring!

How blest is he!—blest did I say? E'en sorrow here oft finds its way. The senses numbed by frequent use, Of criminal, absurd abuse Of heaven's blessings, listless grow, And life is but a dream of woe.

Oft fostered on the lap of ease, Grow racking pain and foul disease, And nervous whims, a ghastly train, Inflicting more than corp'ral pain: Oft gold and shining pedigree Prove only splendid misery. The king who sits upon his throne, And calls the kneeling world his own, Has oft of cares a greater load Than he who feels his iron rod.

No state is free from care and pain Where fiery passions get the rein, Or soft indulgence, joined with ease, Begets a thousand ills to tease: Where fair Religion, heavenly maid, Has slighted still her offered aid. Her matchless power the will subdues, And gives the judgment clearer views: Denies no source of real pleasure, And yields us blessings out of measure; Our prospect brightens, proves our stay, December turns to smiling May; Conveys us to that peaceful shore, By raging billows lashed no more, Where endless happiness remains, And one eternal summer reigns.



VERSES SENT TO A LADY ON HER BIRTHDAY.

The joyous day illumes the sky That bids each care and sorrow fly To shades of endless night: E'en frozen age, thawed in the fires Of social mirth, feels young desires, And tastes of fresh delight.

In thoughtful mood your parents dear, Whilst joy smiles through the starting tear, Give approbation due. As each drinks deep in mirthful wine Your rosy health, and looks benign Are sent to heaven for you.

But let me whisper, lovely fair, This joy may soon give place to care, And sorrow cloud this day; Full soon your eyes of sparkling blue, And velvet lips of scarlet hue, Discoloured, may decay.

As bloody drops on virgin snows, So vies the lily with the rose Full on your dimpled cheek; But ah! the worm in lazy coil May soon prey on this putrid spoil, Or leap in loathsome freak.

Fond wooers come with flattering tale, And load with sighs the passing gale, And love-distracted rave: But hark, fair maid! whate'er they say, You're but a breathing mass of clay, Fast ripening for the grave.

Behold how thievish Time has been! Full eighteen summers you have seen, And yet they seem a day? Whole years, collected in Time's glass, In silent lapse how soon they pass, And steal your life away!

The flying hour none can arrest, Nor yet recall one moment past, And what more dread must seem Is, that to-morrow's not your own— Then haste! and ere your life has flown The subtle hours redeem.

Attend with care to what I sing: Know time is ever on the wing; None can its flight detain; Then, like a pilgrim passing by, Take home this hint, as time does fly, "All earthly things are vain."

Let nothing here elate your breast, Nor, for one moment, break your rest, In heavenly wisdom grow: Still keep your anchor fixed above, Where Jesus reigns in boundless love, And streams of pleasure flow.

So shall your life glide smoothly by Without a tear, without a sigh, And purest joys will crown Each birthday, as the year revolves, Till this clay tenement dissolves, And leaves the soul unbound.

Then shall you land on Canaan's shore, Where time and chance shall be no more, And joy eternal reigns; There, mixing with the seraphs bright, And dressed in robes of heavenly light, You'll raise angelic strains.



THE IRISH CABIN.

Should poverty, modest and clean, E'er please, when presented to view, Should cabin on brown heath, or green, Disclose aught engaging to you, Should Erin's wild harp soothe the ear When touched by such fingers as mine, Then kindly attentive draw near, And candidly ponder each line.

One day, when December's keen breath Arrested the sweet running rill, And Nature seemed frozen in death, I thoughtfully strolled o'er the hill: The mustering clouds wore a frown, The mountains were covered with snow, And Winter his mantle of brown Had spread o'er the landscape below.

Thick rattling the footsteps were heard Of peasants far down in the vale; From lakes, bogs, and marshes debarred, The wild-fowl, aloft on the gale, Loud gabbling and screaming were borne, Whilst thundering guns hailed the day, And hares sought the thicket forlorn, Or, wounded, ran over the way.

No music was heard in the grove, The blackbird and linnet and thrush, And goldfinch and sweet cooing dove, Sat pensively mute in the bush: The leaves that once wove a green shade Lay withered in heaps on the ground: Chill Winter through grove, wood, and glade Spread sad desolation around.

But now the keen north wind 'gan whistle, And gusty, swept over the sky; Each hair, frozen, stood like a bristle, And night thickened fast on the eye. In swift-wheeling eddies the snow Fell, mingling and drifting amain, And soon all distinction laid low, As whitening it covered the plain.

A light its pale ray faintly shot (The snow-flakes its splendour had shorn), It came from a neighbouring cot, Some called it the Cabin of Mourne: {221} A neat Irish Cabin, snow-proof, Well thatched, had a good earthen floor, One chimney in midst of the roof, One window, and one latched door.

Escaped from the pitiless storm, I entered the humble retreat; Compact was the building, and warm, Its furniture simple and neat. And now, gentle reader, approve The ardour that glowed in each breast, As kindly our cottagers strove To cherish and welcome their guest.

The dame nimbly rose from her wheel, And brushed off the powdery snow: Her daughter, forsaking the reel, Ran briskly the cinders to blow: The children, who sat on the hearth, Leaped up without murmur or frown, An oaken stool quickly brought forth, And smilingly bade me sit down.

Whilst grateful sensations of joy O'er all my fond bosom were poured, Resumed was each former employ, And gay thrifty order restored: The blaze flickered up to the crook, The reel clicked again by the door, The dame turned her wheel in the nook, And frisked the sweet babes round the floor.

Released from the toils of the barn, His thrifty, blithe wife hailed the sire, And hanging his flail by her yarn, He drew up his stool to the fire; Then smoothing his brow with his hand, As if he would sweep away sorrow, He says, "Let us keep God's command, And never take thought for the morrow."

Brisk turning him round with a smile, And freedom unblended by art, And affable manners and style, Though simple, that reached to my heart, He said (whilst with ardour he glowed), "Kind sir, we are poor, yet we're blest: We're all in the steep, narrow road That leads to the city of rest.

"'Tis true, I must toil all the day, And oft suffer cold through the night, Though silvered all over with grey, And dimly declining my sight: And sometimes our raiment and food Are scanty—ah! scanty indeed: But all work together for good, So in my blest Bible I read.

"I also have seen in that Book (Perhaps you can tell me the place?) How God on poor sinners does look In pity, and gives them His grace— Yea, gives them His grace in vast store, Sufficient to help them quite through, Though troubles should whelm them all o'er; And sure this sweet promise is true!

"Yes, true as the snow blows without, And winds whistle keen through the air, His grace can remove every doubt, And chase the black gloom of despair: It often supports my weak mind, And wipes the salt tear from my eye, It tells me that Jesus is kind, And died for such sinners as I.

"I once rolled in wealth, without grace, But happiness ne'er was my lot, Till Christ freely pitied my case, And now I am blest in a cot: Well knowing things earthly are vain, Their troubles ne'er puzzle my head; Convinced that to die will be gain, I look on the grave as my bed.

"I look on the grave as my bed, Where I'll sleep the swift hours away, Till waked from their slumbers, the dead Shall rise, never more to decay: Then I, with my children and wife, Shall get a bright palace above, And endlessly clothed with life, Shall dwell in the Eden of love.

"Then know, gentle stranger, though poor, We're cheerful, contented, and blest; Though princes should pass by our door King Jesus is ever our guest; We feel, and we taste, and we see The pleasures which flow from our Lord, And fearless, and wealthy, and free, We live on the joys of His word."

He ceased: and a big tear of joy Rolled glittering down to the ground; Whilst all, having dropped their employ, Were buried in silence profound; A sweet, solemn pause long ensued— Each bosom o'erflowed with delight; Then heavenly converse renewed, Beguiled the dull season of night.

We talked of the rough narrow way That leads to the kingdom of rest; On Pisgah we stood to survey The King in His holiness dressed— Even Jesus, the crucified King, Whose blood in rich crimson does flow, Clean washing the crimson of sin, And rinsing it whiter that snow. {225}

But later and later it's wearing, And supper they cheerfully bring, The mealy potato and herring, And water just fresh from the spring. They press, and they smile: we sit down; First praying the Father of Love Our table with blessings to crown, And feed us with bread from above.

The wealthy and bloated may sneer, And sicken o'er luxury's dishes, And loathe the poor cottager's cheer, And melt in the heat of their wishes: But luxury's sons are unblest, A prey to each giddy desire, And hence, where they never know rest, They sink in unquenchable fire.

Not so, the poor cottager's lot, Who travels the Zion-ward road, He's blest in his neat little cot, He's rich in the favour of God; By faith he surmounts every wave That rolls on this sea of distress: Triumphant, he dives in the grave, To rise on the ocean of bliss.

Now supper is o'er and we raise Our prayers to the Father of light And joyfully hymning His praise, We lovingly bid a good-night.— The ground's white, the sky's cloudless blue, The breeze flutters keen through the air, The stars twinkle bright on my view, As I to my mansion repair.

All peace, my dear cottage, be thine! Nor think that I'll treat you with scorn; Whoever reads verses of mine Shall hear of the Cabin of Mourne; And had I but musical strains, Though humble and mean in your station You should smile whilst the world remains, The pride of the fair Irish Nation.

In friendship, fair Erin, you glow; Offended, you quickly forgive; Your courage is known to each foe, Yet foes on your bounty might live. Some faults you, however, must own; Dissensions, impetuous zeal, And wild prodigality, grown Too big for your income and weal.

Ah! Erin, if you would be great, And happy, and wealthy, and wise, And trample your sorrows, elate, Contend for our cottager's prize; So error and vice shall decay, And concord add bliss to renown, And you shall gleam brighter than day, The gem of the fair British Crown.



TO THE REV. J. GILPIN, ON HIS IMPROVED EDITION OF THE "PILGRIM'S PROGRESS."

When, Reverend Sir, your good design, To clothe our Pilgrim gravely fine, And give him gentler mien and gait, First reached my ear, his doubtful fate With dread suspense my mind oppressed, Awoke my fears, and broke my rest. Yet, still, had England said, "You're free, Choose whom you will," dear sir, to thee, For dress beseeming modest worth, I would have led our pilgrim forth.

But when I viewed him o'er and o'er, And scrutinized the weeds he wore, And marked his mien and marked his gait, And saw him trample sin, elate, And heard him speak, though coarse and plain, His mighty truths in nervous strain, I could not gain my own consent To your acknowledged good intent.

I had my fears, lest honest John, When he beheld his polished son (If saints ought earthly care to know), Would take him for some Bond Street beau, Or for that thing—it wants a name— Devoid of truth, of sense and shame, Which smooths its chin and licks its lip, And mounts the pulpit with a skip, Then turning round its pretty face, To smite each fair one in the place, Relaxes half to vacant smile, And aims with trope and polished style, And lisp affected, to pourtray Its silly self in colours gay— Its fusty moral stuff t' unload, And preach itself, and not its God. Thus, wishing, doubting, trembling led, I oped your book, your Pilgrim read.

As rising Phoebus lights the skies, And fading night before him flies, Till darkness to his cave is hurled And golden day has gilt the world, Nor vapour, cloud, nor mist is seen To sully all the pure serene: So, as I read each modest line, Increasing light began to shine, My cloudy fears and doubts gave way, Till all around shone Heaven's own day.

And when I closed the book, thought I, Should Bunyan leave his throne on high; He'd own the kindness you have done To Christian, his orphan son: And smiling as once Eden smiled, Would thus address his holy child:—

"My son, ere I removed from hence, I spared nor labour nor expense To gain for you the heavenly prize, And teach you to make others wise. But still, though inward worth was thine, You lay a diamond in the mine: You wanted outward polish bright To show your pure intrinsic light. Some knew your worth, and seized the prize, And now are throned in the skies: Whilst others swilled with folly's wine, But trod the pearl like the swine, In ignorance sunk in their grave, And thence, where burning oceans lave. Now polished bright, your native flame And inward worth are still the same; A flaming diamond still you glow, In brighter hues: then cheery go— More suited by a skilful hand To do your father's high command: Fit ornament for sage or clown, Or beggar's rags, or kingly crown.



THE COTTAGE MAID.

Aloft on the brow of a mountain, And hard by a clear running fountain, In neat little cot, Content with her lot, Retired, there lives a sweet maiden.

Her father is dead, and her brother— And now she alone with her mother Will spin on her wheel, And sew, knit, and reel, And cheerfully work for their living.

To gossip she never will roam, She loves, and she stays at, her home, Unless when a neighbour In sickness does labour, Then, kindly, she pays her a visit.

With Bible she stands by her bed, And when some blest passage is read, In prayer and in praises Her sweet voice she raises To Him who for sinners once died.

Well versed in her Bible is she, Her language is artless and free, Imparting pure joy, That never can cloy, And smoothing the pillow of death.

To novels and plays not inclined, Nor aught that can sully her mind; Temptations may shower,— Unmoved as a tower, She quenches the fiery arrows.

She dresses as plain as the lily That modestly glows in the valley, And never will go To play, dance or show— She calls them the engines of Satan.

With tears in her eyes she oft says, "Away with your dances and plays! The ills that perplex The half of our sex Are owing to you, Satan's engines."

Released from her daily employment, Intent upon solid enjoyment, Her time she won't idle, But reads in her Bible, And books that divinely enlighten.

Whilst others at wake, dance, and play Chide life's restless moments away, And ruin their souls— In pleasure she rolls, The foretaste of heavenly joys.

Her soul is refined by her Lord, She shines in the truths of His Word: Each Christian grace Shines full in her face, And heightens the glow of her charms.

One day as I passed o'er the mountain, She sung by a clear crystal fountain (Nor knew I was near); Her notes charmed my ear, As thus she melodiously chanted:

"Oh! when shall we see our dear Jesus? His presence from poverty frees us,— And bright from His face The rays of His grace Beam, purging transgression for ever.

"Oh! when shall we see our dear Jesus? His presence from sorrow will ease us, When up to the sky With angels we fly— Then farewell all sorrow for ever!

"Come quickly! come quickly, Lord Jesus! Thy presence alone can appease us; For aye on Thy breast Believers shall rest, Where blest they shall praise Thee for ever."

Oh, had you but seen this sweet maiden! She smiled like the flowers of Eden, And raised to the skies Her fond beaming eyes, And sighed to be with her Redeemer

While thus she stood heavenly musing, And sometimes her Bible perusing, Came over the way, All silvered with grey, A crippled and aged poor woman.

Her visage was sallow and thin, Through her rags peeped her sunburnt skin; With sorrow oppressed, She held to her breast An infant, all pallid with hunger.

Half breathless by climbing the mountain, She tremblingly stood by the fountain, And begged that our maid Would lend her some aid, And pity both her and her infant.

Our maiden had nought but her earning— Her heart with soft pity was yearning; She drooped like a lily Bedewed in the valley, Whilst tears fell in pearly showers.

With air unaffected and winning, To cover them, of her own spinning Her apron of blue, Though handsome and new, She gave, and led them to her cottage.

All peace, my dear maiden, be thine: Your manners and looks are divine; On earth you shall rest, In heaven be blest, And shine like an angel for ever.

More blest than the king on the throne Is he who shall call you his own! The ruby, with you Compared, fades to blue— Its price is but dust on the balance. {233a}

Religion makes beauty enchanting, And even where beauty is wanting, The temper and mind, Religion-refined, Will shine through the veil with sweet lustre.



THE SPIDER AND THE FLY.

The sun shines bright, the morning's fair, The gossamers {233b}float on the air, The dew-gems twinkle in the glare, The spider's loom Is closely plied, with artful care, Even in my room.

See how she moves in zigzag line, And draws along her silken twine, Too soft for touch, for sight too fine, Nicely cementing: And makes her polished drapery shine, The edge indenting.

Her silken ware is gaily spread, And now she weaves herself a bed, Where, hiding all but just her head, She watching lies For moths or gnats, entangled spread, Or buzzing flies.

You cunning pest! why, forward, dare So near to lay your bloody snare! But you to kingly courts repair With fell design, And spread with kindred courtiers there Entangling twine. {234}

Ah, silly fly! will you advance? I see you in the sunbeam dance: Attracted by the silken glance In that dread loom; Or blindly led, by fatal chance, To meet your doom.

Ah! think not, 'tis the velvet flue Of hare, or rabbit, tempts your view; Or silken threads of dazzling hue, To ease your wing, The foaming savage, couched for you, Is on the spring.

Entangled! freed!—and yet again You touch! 'tis o'er—that plaintive strain, That mournful buzz, that struggle vain, Proclaim your doom: Up to the murderous den you're ta'en, Your bloody tomb!

So thoughtless youths will trifling play With dangers on their giddy way, Or madly err in open day Through passions fell, And fall, though warned oft, a prey To death and hell!

But hark! the fluttering leafy trees Proclaim the gently swelling breeze, Whilst through my window, by degrees, Its breathings play: The spider's web, all tattered flees, Like thought, away.

Thus worldlings lean on broken props, And idly weave their cobweb-hopes, And hang o'er hell by spider's ropes, Whilst sins enthral; Affliction blows—their joy elopes— And down they fall! {235}



EPISTLE TO A YOUNG CLERGYMAN.

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."—2 TIMOTHY ii. 15.

My youthful brother, oft I long To write to you in prose or song; With no pretence to judgment strong, But warm affection— May truest friendship rivet long Our close connection!

With deference, what I impart Receive with humble grateful heart, Nor proudly from my counsel start, I only lend it— A friend ne'er aims a poisoned dart— He wounds, to mend it.

A graduate you've just been made, And lately passed the Mitred Head; I trust, by the Blest Spirit, led, And Shepherd's care: And not a wolf, in sheepskin clad, As numbers are.

The greatest office you sustain For love of souls, and not of gain: Through your neglect should one be slain, The Scriptures say, Your careless hands his blood will stain, On the Last Day.

But if pure truths, like virgin snows, You loud proclaim, to friends and foes, Consoling these, deterring those— To heaven you'll fly; Though stubborn sinners still oppose, And graceless die. {237a}

Divide the word of truth aright, Show Jesus in a saving light, Proclaim to all they're dead outright Till Grace restore them: {237b} The great Redeemer, full in sight, Keep still before them.

Dare not, like some, to mince the matter— Nor dazzling tropes and figures scatter, Nor coarsely speak nor basely flatter, Nor grovelling go: But let plain truths, as Life's pure water, Pellucid flow.

The sinner level with the dead, The Lamb exalt, the Church's Head, His holiness, adoring spread, With godly zeal: Enforce, though sinless, how He bled For sinners' weal.

Pourtray how God in thunder spoke His fiery Law, whilst curling smoke, In terror fierce, from Sinai broke, Midst raging flame! Then Jesu's milder blood invoke, And preach His name.

Remember still to fear the Lord, To live, as well as preach, His word, And wield the Gospel's two-edged sword, Though dangers lower— Example only can afford To precept power.

And dress nor slovenly nor gay, Nor sternly act; nor trifling play; Still keep the golden middle way Whate'er betide you; And ne'er through giddy pleasures stray, Though fools deride you.

As wily serpent ever prove, Yet harmless as the turtle-dove, Still winning souls by guileful love And deep invention— So once the great Apostle strove With good intention. {238}

And inly to thyself take heed, Oft prove your heart, its pages read,— Self-knowledge will, in time of need, Your wants supply; Who knows himself, from dangers freed, Where'er he lie.

So God will own the labours done, Approving see His honoured Son, And honoured Law; and numbers won Of souls immortal, Through grace, will onward conquering run To heaven's bright portal.

And on that last and greatest day, When heaven and earth shall pass away, A perfect band, in bright array, Will form your crown, Your joys triumphant wide display, And sorrows drown.

And now farewell, my youthful friend— Excuse these lines, in candour penned; To me as freely counsel lend, With zeal as fervent— For you will pray, till life does end, Your humble servant.



EPISTLE TO THE LABOURING POOR.

All you who turn the sturdy soil, Or ply the loom with daily toil, And lowly on through life turmoil For scanty fare, Attend, and gather richest spoil To soothe your care.

I write with tender, feeling heart— Then kindly read what I impart; 'Tis freely penned, devoid of art, In homely style, 'Tis meant to ward off Satan's dart, And show his guile.

I write to ope your sin-closed eyes, And make you great, and rich, and wise, And give you peace when trials rise, And sorrows gloom; I write to fit you for the skies On Day of Doom.

What, though you dwell in lowly cot, And share through life a humble lot? Some thousands wealth and fame have got, Yet know no rest: They build, pull down, and scheme and plot, And die unblest.

Your mean attire and scanty fare Are, doubtless, springs of bitter care— Expose you blushing, trembling, bare, To haughty scorn; Yet murmur not in black despair, Nor weep forlorn.

You see that lordling glittering ride In all the pomp of wealth and pride, With lady lolling at his side, And train attendant: 'Tis all, when felt and fairly tried, But care resplendent.

As riches grow his wants increase, His passions burn and gnaw his peace, Ambition foams like raging seas And breaks the rein, Excess produces pale disease And racking pain.

Compared with him thrice happy you; Though small your stock your wants are few— Each wild desire your toils subdue, And sweeten rest, Remove all fancied ills from view, And calm your breast.

Your labours give the coarsest food A relish sweet and cleanse the blood, Make cheerful health in spring-tide flood Incessant boil, And seldom restless thoughts obtrude On daily toil.

Those relish least who proudly own Rich groves and parks familiar grown; The gazing stranger passing on Enjoys them most— The toy possessed—the pleasure's flown, For ever lost.

Then grateful let each murmur die, And joyous wipe the tearful eye: Erect a palace in the sky— Be rich in grace: Loathe this vain world, and longing sigh For Jesu's face.

Both rich and poor, who serve not God, But live in sin, averse to good, Rejecting Christ's atoning blood, Midst hellish shoals, Shall welter in that fiery flood, Which hissing rolls.

But all who worship God aright, In Christ His Son and image bright, With minds illumed by Gospel light, Shall find the way That leads to bliss, and take their flight To heavenly day.

There rich and poor, and high and low, Nor sin, nor pain, nor sorrow know: There Christ with one eternal glow Gives life and light— There streams of pleasure ever flow, And pure delight.

Christ says to all with sin oppressed, "Come here, and taste of heavenly rest, Receive Me as your friendly guest Into your cots; In Me you shall be rich and blest, Though mean your lots.

"Behold My hands, My feet, My side, All crimsoned with the bloody tide! For you I wept, and bled, and died, And rose again: And throned at My Father's side, Now plead amain!

"Repent, and enter Mercy's door, And though you dwell in cots obscure, All guilty, ragged, hungry, poor, I give in love A crown of gold, and pardon sure, To each above."

Then hear the kind, inviting voice— Believing in the Lord rejoice; Your souls will hymn the happy choice To God on high, Whilst joyful angels swell the noise Throughout the sky.

A fond farewell!—each cottage friend, To Jesu's love I would commend Your souls and bodies to the end Of life's rough way; Then (death subdued) may you ascend To endless day!



THE COTTAGER'S HYMN.

I.

My food is but spare, And humble my cot, Yet Jesus dwells there And blesses my lot: Though thinly I'm clad, And tempests oft roll, He's raiment, and bread, And drink to my soul.

II.

His presence is wealth, His grace is a treasure, His promise is health And joy out of measure. His word is my rest, His spirit my guide: In Him I am blest Whatever betide.

III.

Since Jesus is mine, Adieu to all sorrow; I ne'er shall repine, Nor think of to-morrow: The lily so fair, And raven so black, He nurses with care, Then how shall I lack?

IV.

Each promise is sure, That shines in His word, And tells me, though poor, I'm rich in my Lord. Hence! Sorrow and Fear! Since Jesus is nigh, I'll dry up each tear And stifle each sigh.

V.

Though prince, duke, or lord, Ne'er enter my shed, King Jesus my board With dainties does spread. Since He is my guest, For joy I shall sing, And ever be blest In Jesus my King.

VI.

With horrible din Afflictions may swell,— They cleanse me from sin, They save me from hell: They're all but the rod Of Jesus, in love; They lead me to God And blessings above.

VII.

Through sickness and pain I flee to my Lord, Sweet comfort to gain, And health from His word; Bleak scarcities raise A keener desire, To feed on His grace, And wear His attire.

VIII.

The trials which frown, Applied by His blood, But plait me a crown, And work for my good. In praise I shall tell, When throned in my rest, The things which befell Were always the best.

IX.

Whatever is hid Shall burst on my sight When hence I have fled To glorious light. Should chastisements lower, Then let me resign; Should kindnesses shower, Let gratitude shine.

X.

Hence! Sorrow and Fear! Since Jesus is nigh, I'll dry up each tear, And stifle each sigh: And clothed in His word Will conquer my foes, And follow my Lord Wherever He goes.

XI.

My friends! let us fly To Jesus our King; And still as we hie, Of grace let us sing. Through pleasure and pain, If faithful we prove, For cots we shall gain A palace above.

FINIS.

TURNBULL AND SPEARS, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.



Footnotes:

{208} Proverbs xxiii. 31, 32.

{221} Mourne consists chiefly of a range of high mountains in the north of Ireland.

{225} Isaiah i. 18.

{233a} Proverbs xxxi. 10.

{233b} Gossamers are the fine down of plants or the slender threads of insects, which are frequently seen to glide through the sunny atmosphere.

{234} Proverbs xxx. 28.

{235} Job viii. 13, 14.

{237a} Ezek. xxxiii. 8, 9.

{237b} Ephes. ii. 1-8.

{238} St Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 16.

THE END

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