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TALES OF THE HALL.

BOOK XII.

SIR OWEN DALE.

AGAIN the Brothers saw their friend the Priest, Who shared the comforts he so much increased; Absent of late—and thus the Squire address’d, With welcome smile, his ancient friend and guest.

“ What has detain'd thee? some parochial case ? “ Some man's desertion, or some maid's disgrace? “ Or wert thou call'd, as parish priest, to give “ Name to a new-born thing that would not live, “ That its weak glance upon the world had thrown, And shrank in terror from the prospect shown? “ Or hast thou heard some dying wretch deplore, “ That of his pleasures he could taste no more?

VOL. II.

I

“ Who wish'd thy aid his spirits to sustain, “ And drive away the fears that gave him pain? “For priests are thought to have a patent charm “ To ease the dying sinner of alarm : “ Or was thy business of the carnal sort, “ And thou wert gone a patron's smile to court, “ And Croft or Creswell would'st to Binning add, “ Or take, kind soul ! whatever could be had? Once more I guess: th' election now is

near; My friend, perhaps, is sway'd, by hope or fear, “ And all a patriot's wishes, forth to ride, “ And hunt for votes to prop the fav’rite side?"

“ More private duty called me hence, to pay

My friends respect on a rejoicing day,” Replied the Rector: “there is born a son, “ Pride of an ancient race, who pray'd for one, And long desponded. Would you hear the taleAsk, and 'tis granted-of Sir Owen Dale ?"

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Grant," said the Brothers, “for we humbly ask; “ Ours be the gratitude, and thine the task: «. Yet dine we first: then to this tale of thine, As to thy sermon, seriously incline : “ In neither case our rector shall complain, “Of this recited, that composed in vain.

“Something we heard of vengeance, who appallid, “ Like an infernal spirit, him who call'd; “ And, ere he vanish'd, would perform his part,

Inflicting tortures on the wounded heart; “ Of this but little from report we know: " If you the progress of

revenge can show, “ Give it, and all its horrors, if you please, We hear our neighbour's sufferings much at ease.

“ Is it not so ? For do not men delight“ We call them men-our bruisers to excite, And urge with bribing gold, and feed them for the

fight? “ Men beyond common strength, of giant size, And threat'ning terrors in each other's eyes; “ When in their naked, native force display'd, Look answers look, affrighting and afraid; “ While skill, like spurs and feeding, gives the arm The wicked power to do the greater harm: “ Maim'd in the strife, the falling man sustains “ Th'insulting shout, that aggravates his pains :Man can bear this; and shall thy hearers heed “ A tale of human sufferings ? Come! proceed."

Thus urged, the worthy Rector thought it meet
Some moral truth, as preface, to repeat;

Reflection serious,-common-place, 'tis true,-
But he would act as he was wont to do,
And bring his morals in his neighbour's view.

“ O! how the passions, insolent and strong, “ Bear our weak minds their rapid course along ; “ Make us the madness of their will obey; “ Then die, and leave us to our griefs a prey!"

had seen,

Sir Owen Dale his fortieth

year
With temper placid, and with mind serene;
Rich; early married to an easy wife,
They led in comfort a domestic life :
He took of his affairs a prudent care,
And was by early habit led to spare;
Not as a miser, but in pure good taste,
That scorn'd the idle wantonness of waste.

In fact, the lessons he from prudence took
Were written in his mind, as in a book:
There what to do he read, and what to shun;
And all commanded was with promptness done:
He seem'd without a passion to proceed,
Or one whose passions no correction need;

Yet some believed those passions only slept,
And were in bounds by early habits kept:
Curb’d as they were by fetters worn so long,
There were who judged them a rebellious throng.

To these he stood, not as a hero true,
Who fought his foes, and in the combat slew,
But one who all those foes, when sleeping, found,
And, unresisted, at his pleasure bound.

We thought-for I was one—that we espied
Some indications strong of dormant pride;
It was his wish in peace with all to live;
And he could pardon, but could not forgive:
Nay, there were times when stern defiance shook
The moral man, and threaten'd in his look.

Should these fierce passions—so we reason'd-break
Their long-worn chain, what ravage will they make!
In vain will prudence then contend with pride,
And reason vainly bid revenge subside;
Anger will not to meek persuasion bend,
Nor to the pleas of hope or fear attend :
What curb shall, then, in their disorder'd race,
Check the wild passions? what the calm replace?
Virtue shall strive in vain; and has he help in grace?

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