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But held, as law for high and low,
What God withholds no man can know,
And smiled away inquiry so,
We read-alas, how much we read!—
The jumbled strifes of creed and creed
With endless controversies feed
Our groaning tables; His books-and they sufficed him-were Cotton's "Montaigne," "The Grave" of Blair, A "Walton"-much the worse for wear, And "Æsop's Fables."
One more,-"The Bible." Not that he
Had searched its page as deep as we;
No sophistries could make him see
Its slender credit;
It may be that he could not count
The sires and sons to Jesse's fount,-
He liked the "Sermon on the Mount,"
And more, he read it.
Once he had loved, but failed to wed,
A red-cheeked lass who long was dead;
His ways were far too slow, he said,
To quite forget her;
And still when time had turned him gray, The earliest hawthorn buds in May Would find his lingering feet astray, Where first he met her.
"In Calo Quies" heads the stone
On Leisure's grave,—now little known,
A tangle of wild-rose has grown
So thick across it;
The "Benefactions" still declare
He left the clerk an elbow-chair,
And "12 Pence Yearly to Prepare
A Christmas Posset."
Lie softly, Leisure! Doubtless you,
With too serene a conscience drew
Your easy breath, and slumbered through
The gravest issue;
But we, to whom our age allows
Scarce space to wipe our weary brows,
Look down upon your narrow house,
Old friend, and miss you!
A GENTLEWOMAN OF THE OLD SCHOOL.
HE lived in Georgian era too.
Most women then, if bards be true,
Succumbed to Routs and Cards, or grew
Devout and acid.
But hers was neither fate. She came
Of good west-country folk, whose fame
Has faded now. For us her name
Is "Madam Placid."
Patience or Prudence,-what you will,
Some prefix faintly fragrant still
As those old musky scents that fill
Our grandams' pillows;
And for her youthful portrait take
Some long-waist child of Hudson's make,
Stiffly at ease beside a lake
With swans and willows.
I keep her later semblance placed
Beside my desk,--'tis lawned and laced,
In shadowy sanguine stipple traced
A placid face, in which surprise
Is seldom seen, but yet there lies
Some vestige of the laughing eyes
Of arch Piozzi.
For her e'en Time grew debonair.
He, finding cheeks unclaimed of care,
With late-delayed faint roses there,
And lingering dimples,
Had spared to touch the fair old face,
And only kissed with Vauxhall grace
The soft white hand that stroked her lace,
Or smoothed her wimples.
So left her beautiful.
Was comely as her youth was sage,
And yet she once had been the rage;—
It hath been hinted,
Indeed, affirmed by one or two,
Some spark at Bath (as sparks will do)
Inscribed a song to "Lovely Prue,"
Which Urban printed.
I know she thought; I know she felt; Perchance could sum, I doubt she spelt, She knew as little of the Celt
As of the Saxon;
I know she played and sang, for yet
We keep the tumble-down spinet
To which she quavered ballads set
By Amne or Jackson.
Her tastes were not refined as ours;
She liked plain food and homely flowers,
Refused to paint, kept early hours,
Went clad demurely;
Her art was sampler-work design,
Fireworks for her were "vastly fine,"
Her luxury was elder-wine,—
She loved that "purely."
She was renowned, traditions say,
For June conserves, for curds and whey,
For finest tea (she called it "tay"),
She knew, for sprains, what bands to choose,
Could tell the sovereign wash to use
For freckles, and was learned in brews
As erst Medea.
Yet studied little. She would read,
On Sundays, "Pearson on the Creed,”
Though, as I think, she could not heed
His text profoundly;