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- Tales - 40/52 -

In all the palace there is not a page The Caliph would not torture in his rage: I think I see thee now impaled alive, Writhing in pangs--but come, my friend! revive; Had some beheld you, all your purse contains Could not have saved you from terrific pains; I scorn such meanness; and, if not in debt, Would not an asper on your folly set.' "The hint was strong; young Osmyn search'd his store For bribes, and found he soon could bribe no more; That time arrived, for Osmyn's stock was small, And the young tyrant now possess'd it all; The cruel youth, with his companions near, Gave the broad hint that raised the sudden fear; Th' ungenerous insult now was daily shown, And Osmyn's peace and honest pride were flown; Then came augmenting woes, and fancy strong Drew forms of suffering, a tormenting throng; He felt degraded, and the struggling mind Dared not be free, and could not be resign'd; And all his pains and fervent prayers obtain'd Was truce from insult, while the fears remain'd. "One day it chanced that this degraded Boy And tyrant-friend were fixed at their employ; Who now had thrown restraint and form aside, And for his bribe in plainer speech applied: 'Long have I waited, and the last supply Was but a pittance, yet how patient I! But give me now what thy first terrors gave, My speech shall praise thee, and my silence save.' "Osmyn had found, in many a dreadful day, The tyrant fiercer when he seem'd in play: He begg'd forbearance: 'I have not to give; Spare me awhile, although 'tis pain to live: Oh! had that stolen fruit the power possess'd To war with life, I now had been at rest.' "'So fond of death,' replied the Boy, ''tis plain Thou hast no certain notion of the pain; But to the Caliph were a secret shown, Death has no pain that would be then unknown.' "Now," says the story, "in a closet near, The monarch seated, chanced the boys to hear; There oft he came, when wearied on his throne, To read, sleep, listen, pray, or be alone. "The tale proceeds, when first the Caliph found That he was robb'd, although alone, he frown'd; And swore in wrath that he would send the boy Far from his notice, favour, or employ; But gentler movements soothed his ruffled mind, And his own failings taught him to be kind. "Relenting thoughts then painted Osmyn young, His passion urgent, and temptation strong; And that he suffer'd from that villain-Spy Pains worse than death, till he desired to die; Then if his morals had received a stain, His bitter sorrows made him pure again: To reason, pity lent her powerful aid, For one so tempted, troubled, and betray'd: And a free pardon the glad Boy restored To the kind presence of a gentle lord; Who from his office and his country drove That traitor-Friend, whom pains nor pray'rs could move: Who raised the fears no mortal could endure, And then with cruel av'rice sold the cure. "My tale is ended; but, to be applied, I must describe the place where Caliphs hide." Here both the females look'd alarm'd, distress'd, With hurried passions hard to be express'd. "It was a closet by a chamber placed, Where slept a lady of no vulgar taste; Her friend attended in that chosen room That she had honour'd and proclaim'd her home; To please the eye were chosen pictures placed; And some light volumes to amuse the taste; Letters and music on a table laid, For much the lady wrote, and often play'd: Beneath the window was a toilet spread, And a fire gleamed upon a crimson bed." He paused, he rose; with troubled joy the Wife Felt the new era of her changeful life; Frankness and love appear'd in Stafford's face, And all her trouble to delight gave place. Twice made the Guest an effort to sustain Her feelings, twice resumed her seat in vain, Nor could suppress her shame, nor could support her pain. Quick she retired, and all the dismal night Thought of her guilt, her folly, and her flight; Then sought unseen her miserable home, To think of comforts lost, and brood on wants to come.



She hath a tear for pity, and a hand Open as day for melting charity; Yet, notwithstanding, being incensed, is flint: Her temper, therefore, must be well observed. SHAKESPEARE, Henry IV, 2.

Three or four wenches where I stood cried--"Alas! good soul!" and forgave him with all their hearts; but there is no heed to be taken of them; if Caesar had stabbed their mothers, they would have done no less. Julius Caesar.

How dost? Art cold? I'm cold myself.--Where is the straw, my fellow? The art of our necessities is strange, That can make vile things precious. King Lear.


Females there are of unsuspicious mind, Easy and soft and credulous and kind; Who, when offended for the twentieth time, Will hear the offender and forgive the crime: And there are others whom, like these to cheat, Asks but the humblest efforts of deceit; But they, once injured, feel a strong disdain, And, seldom pardoning, never trust again; Urged by religion, they forgive--but yet Guard the warm heart, and never more forget: Those are like wax--apply them to the fire, Melting, they take th' impressions you desire; Easy to mould and fashion as you please, And again moulded with an equal ease: Like smelted iron these the forms retain, But once impress'd, will never melt again. A busy port a serious Merchant made His chosen place to recommence his trade; And brought his Lady, who, their children dead, Their native seat of recent sorrow fled: The husband duly on the quay was seen, The wife at home became at length serene; There in short time the social couple grew With all acquainted, friendly with a few; When the good lady, by disease assail'd, In vain resisted--hope and science fail'd: Then spoke the female friends, by pity led, "Poor merchant Paul! what think ye? will he wed? A quiet, easy, kind, religious man, Thus can he rest?--I wonder if he can." He too, as grief subsided in his mind, Gave place to notions of congenial kind: Grave was the man, as we have told before; His years were forty--he might pass for more; Composed his features were, his stature low, His air important, and his motion slow: His dress became him, it was neat and plain, The colour purple, and without a stain; His words were few, and special was his care In simplest terms his purpose to declare; A man more civil, sober, and discreet, More grave and corteous, you could seldom meet: Though frugal he, yet sumptuous was his board, As if to prove how much he could afford; For though reserved himself, he loved to see His table plenteous, and his neighbours free: Among these friends he sat in solemn style, And rarely soften'd to a sober smile: For this, observant friends their reason gave - "Concerns so vast would make the idlest grave; And for such man to be of language free, Would seem incongruous as a singing tree: Trees have their music, but the birds they shield - The pleasing tribute for protection yield; Each ample tree the tuneful choir defends, As this rich merchant cheers his happy friends!" In the same town it was his chance to meet A gentle Lady, with a mind discreet; Neither in life's decline, nor bloom of youth, One famed for maiden modesty and truth: By nature cool, in pious habits bred, She look'd on lovers with a virgin's dread: Deceivers, rakes, and libertines were they, And harmless beauty their pursuit and prey; As bad as giants in the ancient times Were modern lovers, and the same their crimes: Soon as she heard of her all-conquering charms, At once she fled to her defensive arms; Conn'd o'er the tales her maiden aunt had told, And, statue like, was motionless and cold: From prayer of love, like that Pygmalion pray'd, Ere the hard stone became the yielding maid, A different change in this chaste nymph ensued, And turn'd to stone the breathing flesh and blood: Whatever youth described his wounded heart, "He came to rob her, and she scorn'd his art; And who of raptures once presumed to speak, Told listening maids he thought them fond and weak; But should a worthy man his hopes display In few plain words, and beg a yes or nay, He would deserve an answer just and plain, Since adulation only moved disdain -

Tales - 40/52

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