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The wind was high, the window shakes,
With sudden start the Miser wakes ;
Along ths silent room he stalks,
Looks back, and trembles as he walks.
Each lock and every bolt he tries,
In every creek and corner pries,
Then opes the chest with treasure stor'd,
And stands in rapture o'er his hoard.
But now with sudden qualms possest,
He wrings his hands, he beats his breast ;
By conscience stung he wildly stares,
And thus his guilty soul declares :
• Had the deep earth her stores confin'd,
This heart had known sweet peace of mind.
But virtue's sold. Good gods! what price
Can recompense the pangs of vice!
O bane of good ! seducing cheat!
Can man, weak man, thy power defeat ?
Gold banish'd honour from the mind,
And only left the name behind ;
Gold sow'd the world with every ill;
Gold taught the murderer's sword to kill :
'Twas gold instructed coward hearts
In treachery's more pernicious arts.
Who can recount the mischiefs o'er?
Virtue resides on earth no more!'
He spoke, and sigh’d. In angry mood
Plutus, his god, before him stood.
The Miser, trembling, lock'd his chest;
The Vision frown'd, and thus address'd
• Whence is this vile ungrateful rant, Each sordid rascal's daily cant ? Did I, base wretch ! corrupt mankind ?The fault's in thy rapacious mind. Because my blessings are abus’d, Must I be censur'd, curs’d, accus'd ? Ev'n Virtue's self by knaves is made A cloak to carry on the trade; And pow'r (when lodg'd in their possession) Grows tyranny, and rank oppression.
Thus, when the villain crams his chest,
Gold is the canker of the breast;
'Tis avarice, insolence, and pride,
And every shocking vice beside :
But when to virtuous hands 'tis given,
It blesses, like the dews of Heav'n:
Like Heav'n, it hears the orphan's cries,
And wipes the tears from widow's eyes.
Their crimes on gold shall Miser's lay,
Who pawn'd their sordid souls for pay ?
Let bravos, then, when blood is spilt,
Upbraid the passive soul with guilt.'
THE SICK MAN AND THE ANGEL
Is there no hope?' the sick Man said.
The silent doctor shook his head,
And took his leave with signs of sorrow,
Despairing of his fee to-morrow.
When thus the Man, with gasping breath ;
• I feel the chilling wound of Death.
Since I must bid the world adieu,
Let me my former life review,
I grant my hargains well were made,
But all men over-reach in trade ;
'Tis self-defence in each profession;
Sure self-defence is no transgression.
The little portion in my hands,
By good security on lands
Is well increas'd. If, unawares,
My justice to myself and heirs
Hath let my debtor rot in jail,
For want of good sufficient bail ;
If I by writ, or bond, or deed,
Reduc'd a family to need,
My will hath made the world amends;
My hope on charity depends.
When I am number'd with the dead,
And all my pious gifts are read,
By heav'n and earth 'twill then be known
My charities were amply shown.'
An Angel came : Ah! Friend ! (he cried)
No more in flattering hope confide.
Can thy good deeds in former times
Outweigh the balance of thy crimes.
What widow or what orphan prays
To crown thy life with length of days ?
A pious action's in thy power,
Embrace with joy the happy hour.
Now while you draw the vital air,
Prove your intention is sincere :
This instant give a hundred pound;
Your neighbours want, and you abound.'
• But why such haste (the sick Man whines),
Who knows as yet what Heav'n designs ?
Perhaps I may recover still.
That sum and more are in my will.'
• Fool (says the Vision) now 'tis plain
Your life, your soul, your heav'n, was gain.
From every side, with all your might,
You scrap'd, and scrap'd beyond your right;
And after death would fain atone,
By giving what is not your own.'
• While there is life, there's hope (he cried), Then why such haste?' so groap'd and died.
THE HARE AND MANY FRIENDS.'
Friendship, like love, is but a name,
Unless to one you stint the flame.
The child, whom many fathers share.
Hath seldom known a father's care.
'Tis thus in friendships ; who depend
On many, rarely find a friend.
A Hare who, in a civil way,
Complied with every thing, like Gay,
Was known by all the bestial train
Who haunt the wood or graze the plain ;
Her care was never to offend,
And every creature was her friend.
As forth she went at early dawn,
To taste the dew-besprinkled lawn,
Behind she hears the hunter's cries,
And from the deep-mouth'd thunder flies :
She starts, she stops, she pants for breatb;
She hears the near advance of death;
She doubles to mislead the hound,
And measures back her mazy round,
Till, fainting in the public way,
Half-dead with fear she gasping lay.
What transport in her bosom grew,
When first the Horse appear'd in view !
Let me, (says she) your back ascend,
And owe my safety to a friend.
You know my feet betray my flight :
To friendship every burden's light.'
The Horse replied, • Poor honest puss.
It grieves my heart to see thee thue :
Be comforted, relief is near,
For all your friends are in the rear.'
She next the stately Bull implor'd ;
And thus replied the mighty lord :
• Since every beast alive can tell
That I sincerely wish you well,
I may, without offence, pretend
To take the freedom of a friend.
Love calls me hence; a favourite cow
Expects me near yon barley-mow ;
And when a lady's in the case,
You know all other things give place.
To leave you thus might seem unkind,
But see, the Goat is just behind.'
The Goat remark'd her pulse was high,
Her languid head, her heavy eye:
• My back, (says he) may do you harm
The Sheep's at hand, and wool is warm.'
The Sheep was feeble, and complain'd His sides a load of wool sustain'd; Said he was slow; confess'd his fears ; For hounds eat sheep as well as Hares.
She now the trotting Calf addressid, To save from death a friend distress'd :
• Shall I (says he), of tender age, In this important care engage ? Older and abler pass'd you by ; How strong are those ! how weak am I ! Should I presume to bear you hence, Those friends of mine may take offence. Excuse me, then! you know my heart ; But dearest friends, alas ! must part. How shall we all lament! Adieu ; For see the hounds are just in view.'