« PreviousContinue »
The pleasing hope; thou hadst been here if mine!
A lady was it?-was no brother there?
But why should I afflict me if there were ?—
The way is pleasant! What to me the way?
I cannot reach her till the close of day.
My dumb companion! is it thus we speed?
Not I from grief, nor thou from toil art freed:
Still art thou doom'd to travel, and to pine
For my vexation.-What a fate is mine!
'Gone to a friend, she tells me; I commend
Her purpose,-means she to a female friend?
By Heaven! I wish she suffer'd half the pain
Of hope protracted through the day in vain!
Shall I persist to see th' ungrateful maid?
Yes; I will see her, slight her, and upbraid.
What! in the very hour? she knew the time,
And, doubtless, chose it to increase her crime.'
Forth rode Orlando, by a river's side,
Inland and winding, smooth, and full, and wide,
That roll'd majestic on, in one soft flowing tide;
The bottom gravel, flowery were the banks,
Tall willows waving in their broken ranks ;
The road now near, now distant, winding led
By lovely meadows which the waters fed.
He pass'd the wayside inn, the village spire,
Nor stopp'd to gaze, to question, or admire ;
On either side the rural mansions stood
With hedge-row trees, and hills high crown'd with wood,
And many a devious stream, that reach'd the nobler flood.
'I hate these scenes!' Orlando angry cried,
And these proud farmers!—yes, I hate their pride!
See that sleek fellow, how he strides along,
Strong as an ox, and ignorant as strong!
Can yon close crops a single eye detain,
But his who counts the profits of the grain?
And these vile beans, with deleterious smell,
Where is their beauty?-can a mortal tell?
These deep fat meadows I detest; it shocks
One's feelings, there to see the grazing ox
For slaughter fatted, as a lady's smile
Rejoices man, and means his death the while.
Lo! now the sons of labour every day
Employ'd in toil, and vex'd in every way :
Theirs is but mirth assumed, and they conceal,
In their affected joys, the ills they feel.
I hate these long green lanes, there's nothing seen
In this vile country but eternal green.
Woods! waters! meadows! will they never end?
'Tis a vile prospect— -Gone to see a friend!'
Still on he rode. A mansion fair and tall
Rose to his view,—the pride of Loddon-hall :
Spread o'er the park he saw the grazing steer,
The full-fed steed, and herds of bounding deer.
On a clear stream the vivid sunbeams play'd
Through noble elms, and on the surface made
That moving picture,-chequer'd light and shade.
Th' attended children there indulged to stray-
Enjoy'd, and gave new beauty to the day;
Whose happy parents from their room was seen,
Pleased with the sportive idlers on the green.
'Well!' said Orlando, and, for one so blest,
A thousand reasoning wretches are distress'd;
Nay, these so seeming glad, are grieving like the rest.
Man is a cheat, and all but strive to hide
Their inward misery by their outward pride.
What do yon lofty gates and wall contain,
But fruitless means to soothe unconquer'd pain?
The parents read each infant daughter's smile,
Form'd to seduce, encouraged to beguile;
They view the boys, unconscious of their fate,
Sure to be tempted, sure to take the bait :
These will be Laura's-sad Orlando's these-
There's guilt and grief in all one hears and sees.'
Our trav❜ller, lab'ring up a hill, look'd down
Upon a lively, busy, pleasant town;
All he beheld were there alert, alive,-
The busiest bees that ever stock'd a hive.
A pair were married, and the bells aloud
Proclaim'd their joy, and joyful seem'd the crowd.
And now, proceeding on his way, he spied,
Bound by strong ties, the bridegroom and the bride,
Each by some friends attended. Near they drew,
And spleen beheld them with prophetic view.
'Married! nay, mad!' Orlando cried in scorn;
'Another wretch on this unlucky morn.
What is this foolish mirth-these idle joys?
Attempts to stifle doubt and fear by noise.
To me these robes, expressive of delight,
Foreshow distress, and only grief excite;
And for these cheerful friends, will they behold
Their wailing brood in sickness, want, and cold;
And his proud look, and her soft languid air,
Will-but I spare you-go, unhappy pair!'
And now approaching to the journey's end,
His anger fails, his thoughts to kindness tend—
He less offended feels, and rather fears t' offend.
Now, gently rising, hope contends with doubt,
And casts a sunshine on the views without;
And still reviving joy and lingering gloom
Alternate empire o'er his soul assume;
Till, long perplex'd, he now began to find
The softer thoughts engross the settling mind.
He saw the mansion, and should quickly see
His Laura's self; and angry could he be ?
No!-the resentment melted all away :-
• For this my grief a single smile will pay,'
Our trav❜ller cried; and why should it offend,
That one so good should have a pressing friend?
Grieve not, my heart, to find a favourite guest
Thy pride and boast!-Ye selfish sorrows, rest!
She will be kind, and I again be blest.'
While gentler passions thus his bosom sway'd, He reach'd the mansion, and he saw the maid :
My Laura!'' My Orlando! this is kind;
In truth, I came persuaded, not inclined :
Our friend's amusement let us now pursue,
And I to-morrow will return with you.'
Like man entranced, the happy lover stood:-
'As Laura wills-for she is kind and good :
Ever the truest, gentlest, fairest, best-
As Laura wills-I see her, and am blest.'
Home went the lovers through that busy place,
By Loddon-hall, the country's pride and grace;
By the rich meadows where the oxen fed,
Through the green vale that form'd the river's bed;
And by unnumber'd cottages and farms,
That have, for musing minds, unnumber'd charms :
And how affected by the view of these
Was then Orlando-did they pain or please?
Nor pain nor pleasure could they yield-and why?
The mind was fill'd,- -was happy-and the eye
Roved o'er the fleeting views that but appear'd to die.
Alone, Orlando, on the morrow, paced
The well-known road: the gipsy tent he traced-
The dam high raised the ready dykes between-
The scatter'd hovels on the barren green-
The burning sand-the fields of thin-set rye,-
Mock'd by the useless Flora blooming by-
And last the heath, with all its various bloom,
And the close lanes that led the trav'ller home.
Then, could these scenes the former joys renew? Or was there now dejection in the view?
Nor one nor other could they yield, and why?
The mind was absent, and the vacant eye
Wander'd o'er viewless scenes that but appear'd to die.""
WHAT a lordly creature a pheasant looks moving along the grassy glade of a wood, now erecting his head as if to listen, (while, perchance, a sunbeam falls upon his burnished neck,) then stooping to pick up a fallen acorn, the long plumes of his tail swaying in the wind like silken pennons, or, alarmed by the rustling long reeds, plunging among the underwood, or flapping his way to the ivied arm of a tree! How beautiful appears a flock of these birds feeding upon the wildwood fruits