Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

EXERCISE XX.

CASABIANCA.

Young Casabianca, a boy about thirteen years old, son of the admiral of the Orient, remained at his post (in the battle of the Nile) after the ship had taken fire, and all the guns had been abandoned; and perished in the explosion of the vessel, when the flames reached the powder magazine.

The boy stood on the burning deck,
Whence all but him had fled:

The flame that lit the battle's wreck:
Shone round him o'er the dead:

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,

As born to rule the storm; A creature of heroic blood,

A proud, though child-like form.

The flames rolled on-he would not go,
Without his father's word;

That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

He called aloud:-" Say, Father, say
If yet my task is done?"

He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.

"Speak, Father!" once again he cried, If I may yet be gone!

""

And "--but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath,
And in his waving hair,

And looked from that lone post of death
In still, but brave despair.

And shouted but once more aloud,

66

'My Father! must I stay ?"

While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud,
The wreathing fires made way.

They wrapt the ship in splendor wild,
They caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child,
Like banners in the sky.

There came a burst of thunder sound-
The boy-oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around

With fragments strewed the sea—

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
That well had borne their part:
But the noblest thing that perished there
Was that young faithful heart!

EXERCISE XXI.

EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.-Cowper.

Dear Joseph-five and twenty years ago—
Alas! how time escapes!-'tis even so―
With frequent intercourse, and always sweet,
And always friendly, we were wont to cheat
A tedious hour-and now we never meet!
As some grave gentleman in Terence says,
('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days,)
Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings-
Strange fluctuations of all human things!
True. Changes will befal, and friends may part,
But distance only cannot change the heart;

And, were I called to prove the assertion true,
One proof should serve―a reference to you.
Whence comes it, then, that, in the wane of life,
Though nothing have occurred to kindle strife,
We find the friends we fancied we had won,
Though numerous once, reduced to few or none.
Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch?
No; gold they seemed, but they were never such.

Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe,
Swinging the parlor door upon its hinge,
Dreading a negative, and overawed

Lest he should trespass, begged to go abroad.
Go, fellow! whither? turning short about—
Nay, stay at home-you're always going out.
'Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end-
For what? An please you, sir, to see a friend-
A friend! Horatio cried, and seemed to start-
Yea, marry shalt thou, and with all my heart-
And fetch my cloak; for, though the night be raw,
I'll see him too-the first I ever saw.

I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,

And was his plaything, often, when a child;
But somewhat at that moment pinched him close,
Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps his confidence just then betrayed,

His grief might prompt him with the speech he made:
Perhaps 'twas mere good humor gave it birth,
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
Howe'er it was, his language, in my mind,
Bespoke at least, a man that knew mankind.

But, not to moralize too much, and strain,
To prove an evil of which all complain,

(I hate all arguments verbosely spun,)

One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.
Once on a time, an emperor, a wise man,
No matter where, in China or Japan,
Decreed, that whosoever should offend
Against the well-known duties of a friend,
Convicted once, should ever after wear
But half a coat, and show his bosom bare.
The punishment importing this, no doubt,
That all was naught within, and all found out.

O happy Britain, we have not to fear
Such hard and arbitrary measure here;
Else, could a law, like that which I relate,
Once have the sanction of our triple state,
Some few that I have known of old,

THE COUNTRY

Would run most dreadful risks of catching cold;
While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow,
Might traverse England, safely, to and fro;
An honest man, close buttoned to the chin,
Broad-cloth without, and a warm heart within.

[blocks in formation]

A fellow, in a market-town,

Most musical, cried razors up and down,
And offered twelve for eighteen pence;
Which, certainly seem'd wondrous cheap,
And, for the money, quite a heap,
That every man would buy, with cash and sense.

A country bumpkin the great offer heard;

Poor Hodge,-who suffered by a broad black beard, That seemed a shoe-brush stuck beneath his nose. With cheerfulness the eighteen-pence he paid, And, proudly, to himself, in whispers said• The rascal stole the razors, I suppose.

'No matter if the fellow be a knave, Provided that the razors shave;

It certainly will be a monstrous prize.'

So home the clown, with his good fortune, went,— Smiling,-in heart and soul content,

And quickly soaped himself to ears and eyes.

Being well lathered, from a dish or tub, Hodge now began, with grinning pain, to grub― Just like a hedger cutting furze :

'Twas a vile razor !—then the rest he try'd;All were impostors. Ah!' Hodge sighed, I wish my eighteen pence was in my purse.'

3

-

In vain, to chase his beard, and bring the graces, He cut, and dug, and whined, and stamped, and

swore ;

Brought blood, and danced, blasphemed and made wry faces,

And cursed each razor's body, o'er and o'er.
His muzzle, formed of opposition stuff,
Firm as a Foxite, would not lose its ruff;
So kept it-laughing at the steel and suds.

Hodge, in a passion, stretched his angry jaws, Vowing the direst vengeance, with clenched claws, On the vile CHEAT that sold the goods.

'Razors! a vile, confounded dog !—

« AnteriorContinuar »