Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

But in his wife-I hate the fact I tell
A lovely being, who could please too well :
And he was one who never would deny
Himself a pleasure, or indeed would try.

Early and well the wife of Ellis knew
Where danger was, and trembled at the view;
So evil spirits tremble, but are still
Evil, and lose not the rebellious will:
She sought not safety from the fancied crime,
And why retreat before the dangerous time?"

Oft came the student of the farm and read,
And found his mind with more than reading fed :
This Ellis seeing, left them, or he staid,
As pleased him, not offended nor afraid :
He came in spirits with his girls to play,
Then ask excuse, and, laughing, walk away:
When, as he enter'd, Cecil ceased to read,
He would exclaim, “Proceed, my friend, proceed!"
Or, sometimes weary, would to bed retire,
And fear and anger by his ease inspire.

“ My conversation does he then despise?
“ Leaves he this slighted face for other eyes s?”

So said Alicia ; and she dwelt so long
Upon that thought, to leave her was to wrong.

Alas! the woman loved the soothing tongue,
That yet pronounced her beautiful and young ;
The tongue that, seeming careless, ever praised;
The eye that roving, on her person gazed ;
The ready service, on the watch to please;
And all such sweet, small courtesies as these.

Still there was virtue, but a rolling stone
On a hill's brow is not more quickly gone;
The slightest motion,-ceasing from our care,-
A moment's absence, when we're not aware, -
When down it rolls, and at the bottom lies,
Sunk, lost, degraded, never more to rise !
Far off the glorious height from whence it fell,
With all things base and infamous to dwell.

Friendship with woman is a dangerous thing-
Thence hopes avow'd and bold confessions spring :
Frailties confess'd to other frailties lead,
And new confessions new desires succeed ;
And, when the friends have thus their hearts disclosed,
They find how little is to guilt opposed.

The foe's attack will on the fort begin,
When he is certain of a friend within.

When all was lost,-or, in the lover's sight,
When all was won,--the lady thought of flight.

“ What! sink a slave?" she said, “and with deceit
“ The rigid virtue of a husband meet ?
« No! arm'd with death, I would his fury brave,
And own the justice of the blow he gave!
“ But thus to see him easy, careless, cold,
“ And his confiding folly to behold;
“ To feel incessant fears that he should read,
« In looks assumed, the cause whence they proceed,
“ I cannot brook; nor will I here abide ·
« Till chance betrays the crime that shame would hide:

Fly with me, Henry!" Henry sought in vain
To soothe her terrors and her griefs restrain :
He saw the lengths that women dared to go,
And fear'd the husband both as friend and foe.
Of farming weary—for the guilty mind
Can no resource in guiltless studies find,
Left to himself, his mother all unknown,
His titled father, loth the boy to own,
Had him to decent expectations bred,
A favour'd offspring of a lawless bed;

And would he censure one who should pursue
The
way

he took ? Alicia yet was new :
Her passion pleased him: he agreed on flight:
They fix'd the method, and they chose the night.

Then, while the Farmer read of public crimes,
Collating coolly Chronicles and Times,
The flight was taken by the guilty pair,
That made one passage in the columns there.

The heart of Ellis bled; the comfort, pride,
The hope and stay of his existence died;
Rage from the ruin of his peace arose,
And he would follow and destroy his foes;
Would with wild haste the guilty pair pursue,
And when he found-Good heaven! what would he do ?

That wretched woman he would wildly seize,
And agonize her heart, his own to ease;
That guilty man would grasp, and in her sight
Insult his pangs, and her despair excite;
Bring death in view, and then the stroke suspend,
And draw out tortures till his life should end :
0! it should stand recorded in all time,
How they transgress'd, and he avenged the crime !

In this bad world should all his business cease,
He would not seek—he would not taste of peace;
But wrath should live till vengeance had her due,
And with his wrath his life should perish too.

His girls—not his—he would not be so weak
Child was a word he never more must speak!
How did he know what villains had defiled
His honest bed ?-He spurn'd the name of child:
Keep them he must; but he would coarsely hide
Their forms, and nip the growth of woman's pride;
He would consume their flesh, abridge their food,
And kill the mother-vices in their blood.

All this Sir Owen heard, and grieved for all;
He with the husband mourn'd Alicia's fall;
But urged the vengeance with a spirit strong,
As one whose own rose high against the wrong:
He saw his tenant by this passion moved,
Shared in his wrath, and his revenge approved.

Years now unseen, he mourn'd this tenant's fate, And wonder'd how he bore his widow'd state;

« ForrigeFortsett »