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- Miscellaneous Poems - 5/8 -


True, I was not to virtue train'd, Yet well I knew my deeds were ill; By each offence my heart was pain'd I wept, but I offended still; My better thoughts my life disdain'd, But yet the viler led my will.

My husband died, and now no more My smile was sought, or ask'd my hand, A widow'd vagrant, vile and poor, Beneath a vagrant's vile command.

Ceaseless I roved the country round, To win my bread by fraudful arts, And long a poor subsistence found, By spreading nets for simple hearts.

Though poor, and abject, and despised, Their fortunes to the crowd I told; I gave the young the love they prized, And promised wealth to bless the old. Schemes for the doubtful I devised, And charms for the forsaken sold.

At length for arts like these confined In prison with a lawless crew, I soon perceived a kindred mind, And there my long-lost daughter knew;

His father's child, whom Aaron gave To wander with a distant clan, The miseries of the world to brave, And be the slave of vice and man.

She knew my name--we met in pain; Our parting pangs can I express? She sail'd a convict o'er the main, And left an heir to her distress.

This is that heir to shame and pain, For whom I only could descry A world of trouble and disdain: Yet, could I bear to see her die, Or stretch her feeble hands in vain, And, weeping, beg of me supply?

No! though the fate thy mother knew Was shameful! shameful though thy race Have wander'd all a lawless crew, Outcasts despised in every place;

Yet as the dark and muddy tide, When far from its polluted source, Becomes more pure and purified, Flows in a clear and happy course;

In thee, dear infant! so may end Our shame, in thee our sorrows cease, And thy pure course will then extend, In floods of joy, o'er vales of peace.

Oh! by the GOD who loves to spare, Deny me not the boon I crave; Let this loved child your mercy share, And let me find a peaceful grave: Make her yet spotless soul your care, And let my sins their portion have; Her for a better fate prepare, And punish whom 'twere sin to save!

MAGISTRATE.

Recall the word, renounce the thought, Command thy heart and bend thy knee; There is to all a pardon brought, A ransom rich, assured and free; 'Tis full when found, 'tis found if sought, Oh! seek it, till 'tis seal'd to thee.

VAGRANT.

But how my pardon shall I know?

MAGISTRATE.

By feeling dread that 'tis not sent, By tears for sin that freely flow, By grief, that all thy tears are spent, By thoughts on that great debt we owe, With all the mercy God has lent, By suffering what thou canst not show, Yet showing how thine heart is rent, Till thou canst feel thy bosom glow, And say, "MY SAVIOUR, I REPENT!"

1807

"WOMAN!"

To a Woman I never addressed myself in the language of decency and friendship, without receiving a decent and friendly answer. If I was hungry or thirsty, wet or sick, they did not hesitate, like Men, to perform a generous action: in so free and kind a manner did they contribute to my relief, that if I was dry, I drank the sweetest draught, and if hungry, I ate the coarsest morsel with a double relish.

Mr Ledyard, as quoted by Mungo Park in his travels into Africa.

----------------

Place the white man on Afric's coast, Whose swarthy sons in blood delight, Who of their scorn to Europe boast, And paint their very demons white: There, while the sterner sex disdains To soothe the woes they cannot feel, Woman will strive to heal his pains, And weep for those she cannot heal: Hers is warm pity's sacred glow; From all her stores she bears a part, And bids the spring of hope re-flow, That languish'd in the fainting heart.

"What though so pale his haggard face, So sunk and sad his looks,"--she cries; "And far unlike our nobler race, With crisped locks and rolling eyes; Yet misery marks him of our kind; We see him lost, alone, afraid; And pangs of body, griefs in mind, Pronounce him man, and ask our aid.

"Perhaps in some far-distant shore There are who in these forms delight; Whose milky features please them more, Than ours of jet thus burnished bright; Of such may be his weeping wife, Such children for their sire may call, And if we spare his ebbing life, Our kindness may preserve them all."

Thus her compassion Woman shows: Beneath the line her acts are these; Nor the wide waste of Lapland-snows Can her warm flow of pity freeze: - "From some sad land the stranger comes, Where joys like ours are never found; Let's soothe him in our happy homes, Where freedom sits, with plenty crown'd.

'Tis good the fainting soul to cheer, To see the famish'd stranger fed; To milk for him the mother-deer, To smooth for him the furry bed. The powers above our Lapland bless With good no other people know; T'enlarge the joys that we possess, By feeling those that we bestow!"

Thus in extremes of cold and heat, Where wandering man may trace his kind; Wherever grief and want retreat, In Woman they compassion find; She makes the female breast her seat, And dictates mercy to the mind.

Man may the sterner virtues know, Determined justice, truth severe; But female hearts with pity glow, And Woman holds affliction dear; For guiltless woes her sorrows flow, And suffering vice compels her tear; 'Tis hers to soothe the ills below, And bid life's fairer views appear: To Woman's gentle kind we owe What comforts and delights us here; They its gay hopes on youth bestow, And care they soothe, and age they cheer.

1807

"THE BIRTH OF FLATTERY".

Omnia habeo, nec quicquam habeo; Quidquid, dicunt, laudo; id rursum si negant, laudo id quoque; Negat quis, nego; ait, aio; Postremo imperavi egomet mihi Omnia assentari. TERENCE, in Eunuch.


Miscellaneous Poems - 5/8

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