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- But grant the welkin fair; require not, thou Who call'st thyself, perchance, the master there, Or study swept, or nicely dusted coat, Or usual 'tendance; ask not, indiscreet, Thy stockings mended, though the yawning rents Gape wide as Erebus; nor hope to find Some snug recess impervious; shouldst thou try The 'customed garden walks, thine eye shall rue The budding fragrance of thy tender shrubs, Myrtle or rose, all crushed beneath the weight Of coarse checked apron, with impatient hand Twitched off when showers impend; or crossing lines Shall mar thy musings, as the wet, cold sheet Flaps in thy face abrupt. Woe to the friend Whose evil stars have urged him forth to claim On such a day the hospitable rites ! Looks, blank at best, and stinted courtesy, Shall he receive. Vainly he feeds his hopes With dinner of roast chicken, savory pie, Or tart, or pudding: pudding he nor tart That day shall eat; nor, though the husband try, Mending what can't be helped, to kindle mirth From cheer deficient, shall his consort's brow Clear up propitious: the unlucky guest In silence dines, and early slinks away. I well remember, when a child, the awe This day struck into me; for then the maids, I scarce knew why, looked cross, and drove me from them; Nor soft caress could I obtain, nor hope Usual indulgences; jelly or creams, Relic of costly suppers, and set by For me, their petted one; or buttered toast, When butter was forbid ; or thrilling tale Of ghost, or witch, or murder so I went And sheltered me beside the parlor fire; There my dear grandmother, eldest of forms, Tended the little ones, and watched from harm,
Anxiously fond, though oft her spectacles
LVI. - THE WELL OF ST. KEYNE.
(ROBERT SOUTHEY was born in Bristol, England, August 12, 1774, and died March 21, 1843. For the last forty years of his life he resided at Keswick, in the county of Cum. berland. He was a very voluminous writer in verse and prose, and his works would fill not less than a hundred volumes. His poetry is characterized by a rich and gorgeous fancy, great beauty in description, and an elevated moral tone, but not by high creative power. His Thalaba and Curse of Kehama are splendid Oriental visions, and his Roderick is an elaborate and well-sustained work. Many of his shorter poenis are marked by a happy vein of humor.
His prose style is admirable; pure, simple, perspicuous, and energetic; singularly well suited for narrative, and hardly less so for reasoning upon the usual topics of controversy among men. His best known prose works are The Life of Nelson, The Life of Wesley, The History of the Peninsular War, The History of Brazil, Sir Thomas More, or Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society, The Life of Cowper, and The Doctor.
Southey was exclusively a man of letters, and few men have ever adorned that profossion with higher qualities of character. He was admirable in all the relations of life, full of warm affections, and ever faithful to duty. He had strong prejudices, but they were honestly entertained. His literary industry was worthy of all praise. He was a passionate lover of books, and left behind him a large and valuable library. Overworn by excessive mental toil and domestic anxiety, the light of his mind faded away before death released him; and his last years were passed in ignorance alike of his books and his friends.]
A WELL there is in the west country,
And a clearer one never was seen ; There is not a wife in the west country
But has heard of the well of St. Keyne
An oak and an elm tree stand beside,
And behind does an ash tree grow, And a willow from the bank above
Droops to the water below.
A traveller came to the well of St. Keyne ;
Joyfully he drew nigh,
And there was not a cloud in the sky.
He drank of the water so cool and clear,
For thirsty and hot was he, And he sat down upon the bank
Under the willow tree.
There came a man from the neighboring town
At the well to fill his pail; On the well side he rested it,
And he bade the stranger hail.
“Now, art thou a bachelor, stranger?” quoth he;
“ For an if thou hast a wife, The happiest draught thou hast drank this day
That ever thou didst in thy life.
“Or has thy good woman, if one thou hast,
Ever here in Cornwall been ?
She has drank of the well of St. Keyne."
“ I have left a good woman who never was here,”
The stranger he made reply ; “But that my draught should be the better for that, I
pray you answer me why.”
“ St. Keyne,” quoth the Cornish man, “many a timo
Drank of this crystal well ;
She laid on the water a spell.
“ If the husband of this gifted well
Shall drink before his wife, A happy man henceforth is he,
For he shall be master for life.
“ But if the wife should drink of it first,
God help the husband then !”
And drank of the water again.
“ You drank of the well I warrant betimes ?”
He to the Cornish man said: But the Cornish man smiled as the stranger spoke,
And sheepishly shook his head.
“I hastened as soon as the wedding was done,
And left my wife in the porch ;
For she took a bottle to church."
LVII. -SUNRISE FROM MOUNT ÆTNA.
[This extract is from A Tour through Sicily and Malta, by P. BRYDONE, ESQ.; pube lished in 1773. It is written in an easy and graceful style, and was quite popular In its day.)
The ascent for some time was not steep, and as the surface of the snow sunk a little, we had tolerably good footing; but as it soon began to grow steeper, we found our labor greatly increase. However, we determined to persevere, calling to mind, in the midst of our labor, that the Emperor Adrian and the philosopher Plato had undergone the same, and froin the same motive too— to see the rising sun from the top of Ætna. After incredible labor and fatigue, but at the same time mixed with a great deal of pleasure, we arrived before dawn at the ruins of an ancient structure, called the Philosopher's Tower, supposed to have been built by the philosopher Emped'ocles, * who took up his habitation here the better to study the nature of Mount Ætna.
We had now time to pay our adorations in a silent contemplation of the sublime objects of nature. The sky was clear, and the immense vault of the heavens appeared in awful majesty and splendor. We found ourselves more struck with veneration than below, and at first were at a loss to know the cause; till we observed, with astonishment, that the number of stars seemed to be infinitely increased, and the light of each of them appeared brighter than usual. The whiteness of the milky way was like a pure flame that shot across the heavens ; and with the naked eye we could observe clusters of stars that were invisible in the regions below. We did not at 'first attend to the cause, nor recollect that we had now passed through ten or twelve thousand feet of gross vapor, that blunts and confuses every ray before it reaches the surface of
* Empedocles was a celebrated Sicilian philosopher v 10 flourished about four hundred and fifty years before Christ.