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- Tales - 10/52 -


While vicious deeds are screen'd by fashion's name, And what was once our pride is now our shame. Dinah was musing, as her friends discoursed, When these last words a sudden entrance forced Upon her mind, and what was once her pride And now her shame, some painful views supplied; Thoughts of the past within her bosom press'd, And there a change was felt, and was confess'd: While thus the Virgin strove with secret pain, Her mind was wandering o'er the troubled main; Still she was silent, nothing seem'd to see, But sat and sigh'd in pensive reverie. The friends prepared new subjects to begin, When tall Susannah, maiden starch, stalk'd in; Not in her ancient mode, sedate and slow, As when she came, the mind she knew, to know; Nor as, when list'ning half an hour before, She twice or thrice tapp'd gently at the door; But all decorum cast in wrath aside, "I think the devil's in the man!" she cried; "A huge tall sailor, with his tawny cheek And pitted face, will with my lady speak; He grinn'd an ugly smile, and said he knew, Please you, my lady, 't would be joy to you: What must I answer?"--Trembling and distress'd Sank the pale Dinah by her fears oppress'd; When thus alarm'd and brooking no delay, Swift to her room the stranger made his way. "Revive, my love!" said he, "I've done thee harm; Give me thy pardon," and he look'd alarm: Meantime the prudent Dinah had contrived Her soul to question, and she then revived. "See! my good friend," and then she raised her head, "The bloom of life, the strength of youth is fled; Living we die; to us the world is dead; We parted bless'd with health, and I am now Age-struck and feeble--so I find art thou; Thine eye is sunken, furrow'd is thy face, And downward look'st thou--so we run our race; And happier they whose race is nearly run, Their troubles over, and their duties done." "True, lady, true--we are not girl and boy, But time has left us something to enjoy." "What! hast thou learn'd my fortune?--yes, I live To feel how poor the comforts wealth can give: Thou too perhaps art wealthy; but our fate Still mocks our wishes, wealth is come too late." "To me nor late nor early; I am come Poor as I left thee to my native home: Nor yet," said Rupert, "will I grieve; 'tis mine To share thy comforts, and the glory thine: For thou wilt gladly take that generous part That both exalts and gratifies the heart; While mine rejoices"--"Heavens!" return'd the maid, "This talk to one so wither'd and decay'd? No! all my care is now to fit my mind For other spousal, and to die resigned: As friend and neighbour, I shall hope to see These noble views, this pious love in thee; That we together may the change await, Guides and spectators in each other's fate; When fellow pilgrims, we shall daily crave The mutual prayer that arms us for the grave." Half angry, half in doubt, the lover gazed On the meek maiden, by her speech amazed; "Dinah," said he, "dost thou respect thy vows? What spousal mean'st thou?--thou art Rupert's spouse; That chance is mine to take, and thine to give: But, trifling this, if we together live: Can I believe, that, after all the past, Our vows, our loves, thou wilt be false at last? Something thou hast--I know not what--in view; I find thee pious--let me find thee true." "Ah! cruel this; but do, my friend, depart; And to its feelings leave my wounded heart." "Nay, speak at once; and Dinah, let me know, Mean'st thou to take me, now I'm wreck'd, in tow? Be fair; nor longer keep me in the dark; Am I forsaken for a trimmer spark? Heaven's spouse thou art not; nor can I believe That God accepts her who will man deceive: True I am shatter'd, I have service seen, And service done, and have in trouble been; My cheek (it shames me not) has lost its red, And the brown buff is o'er my features spread: Perchance my speech is rude; for I among Th' untamed have been, in temper and in tongue; Have been trepann'd, have lived in toil and care, And wrought for wealth I was not doom'd to share; It touch'd me deeply, for I felt a pride In gaining riches for my destin'd bride: Speak then my fate; for these my sorrows past, Time lost, youth fled, hope wearied, and at last This doubt of thee--a childish thing to tell, But certain truth--my very throat they swell: They stop the breath, and but for shame could I Give way to weakness, and with passion cry; These are unmanly struggles, but I feel This hour must end them, and perhaps will heal." Here Dinah sigh'd, as if afraid to speak - And then repeated--"They were frail and weak: His soul she lov'd, and hoped he had the grace To fix his thoughts upon a better place." She ceased;--with steady glance, as if to see The very root of this hypocrisy, - He her small fingers moulded in his hard And bronzed broad hand; then told her his regard, His best respect were gone, but love had still Hold in his heart, and govern'd yet the will - Or he would curse her: --saying this, he threw The hand in scorn away, and bade adieu To every lingering hope, with every care in view. Proud and indignant, suffering, sick, and poor, He grieved unseen: and spoke of love no more - Till all he felt in indignation died, As hers had sunk in avarice and pride. In health declining, as in mind distressed, To some in power his troubles he confess'd, And shares a parish-gift; at prayers he sees The pious Dinah dropp'd upon her knees; Thence as she walks the street with stately air As chance directs, oft meet the parted pair; When he, with thickset coat of badgeman's blue, Moves near her shaded silk of changeful hue; When his thin locks of gray approach her braid, A costly purchase made in Beauty's aid; When his frank air, and his unstudied pace, Are seen with her soft manner, air, and grace; And his plain artless look with her sharp meaning face; It might some wonder in a stranger move, How these together could have talk'd of love. Behold them now!--see there a tradesman stands, And humbly hearkens to some fresh commands; He moves to speak, she interrupts him--"Stay," Her air expresses,--"Hark to what I say!" Ten paces off, poor Rupert on a seat Has taken refuge from the noon-day heat, His eyes on her intent, as if to find What were the movements of that subtle mind: How still!--how earnest is he!--it appears His thoughts are wand'ring through his earlier years; Through years of fruitless labour, to the day When all his earthly prospects died away: "Had I," he thinks, "been wealthier of the two, Would she have found me so unkind, untrue? Or knows not man when poor, what man when rich will do? Yes, yes! I feel that I had faithful proved, And should have soothed and raised her, bless'd and loved." But Dinah moves--she had observed before The pensive Rupert at an humble door: Some thoughts of pity raised by his distress, Some feeling touch of ancient tenderness; Religion, duty urged the maid to speak, In terms of kindness to a man so weak: But pride forbade, and to return would prove She felt the shame of his neglected love; Nor wrapp'd in silence could she pass, afraid Each eye should see her, and each heart upbraid; One way remain'd--the way the Levite took, Who without mercy could on misery look; (A way perceiv'd by craft, approved by pride), She cross'd and pass'd him on the other side.

TALE V.

THE PATRON.

It were all one, That I should love a bright peculiar star, And think to wed it; she is so much above me: In her bright radiance and collateral heat Must I be comforted, not in her sphere. SHAKESPEARE, All's Well that Ends Well.

Poor wretches, that depend On greatness' favours, dream as I have done, Wake and find nothing. Cymbeline.

And since - Th' affliction of my mind amends, with which I fear a madness held me. Tempest.

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A Borough-Bailiff, who to law was train'd, A wife and sons in decent state maintain'd, He had his way in life's rough ocean steer'd And many a rock and coast of danger clear'd; He saw where others fail'd, and care had he, Others in him should not such feelings see: His sons in various busy states were placed, And all began the sweets of gain to taste, Save John, the younger, who, of sprightly parts, Felt not a love for money-making arts:


Tales - 10/52

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