Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small]

A few hours before Yorick breath'd his last, Eugenius stepped in with an intent to take his last sight and last farewell of him. Upon his drawing Yorick's curtain, and askin

how he felt himself, Yorick, looking up in his face, took hold of his hand,-and, after thanking him for the many tokens of his friendship to him, for which, he said, if it was their fate to meet hereafter, he would thank him again and again; he told him, he was within a few hours of giving his enemies the slip for ever.—I hope not, answered Eugenius, with tears trickling down his cheeks, and with the tenderest tone that ever man spoke, -I hope not, Yorick, said he. Yorick replied, with a look up, and gentle squeeze of Eugenius's hand—and that was all,—but it cut Eugenius to the heart. —Come come, Yorick, quoth Eugenius, wiping his eyes, and summoning up the man within him, my dear lad, be comforted, let not all thy spirits and fortitude forsake thee at this crisis, when thou most wantest them; who knows what resources are in store, and what the power of God may yet do for thee?—Yorick laid his hand upon his heart, and gently shook his head;—For my part, continued Eugenius, crying bitterly as he uttered the words,--I declare I know not, Yorick, how to part with thee, and would gladly flatter my hopes, added Eugenius, cheering up his voice, that there is still enough left of thee to make a bishop,-and that I may live to see it.—I beseech thee, Eugenius, quoth Yorick, taking off his nightcap as well as he could with his left hand his right being still grasped close in that of Eugenius, I beseech thee to take a view of my head.—I see nothing that ails it, replied Eugenius. , Then, alas! my friend, said Yorick, let me tell you, that it is so bruised and misshapened with the blows which have been so unhandsomely given me in the dark, that I might say with Sancho Pancha, that should I recover, and “mitres thereupon be “suffered to rain down from Heaven as thick as hail, not “one of them would fit it.” Yorick's last breath was hanging upon his trembling lips go to depart as he utiered

- 2

this ; yet still it was uttered with something of a Cervantic tone ;

-and as he spoke it, Eugenius could perceive a stream of lambent fire lighted up for a moment in his eyes ;-faint picture of those flashes of his spirit, which (as Shakspeare said of his ancestor) were wont to set the table in a roar!

Eugenius was convinced from this, that the heart of his friend was broken; he squeezed his hand,--and then walked softly out of the room, weeping as he walked. Yorick followed Eugenius with his eyes to the door-he then closed them,—and never opened them more. · He lies buried in a corner of his churchyard, under a plain marble slab, which his friend Eugenius, by leave of his executors, laid upon his grave, with no more than these three words of inscription; serving both for his epitaph and elegy:

Alas! poor YORICK!

Ten times a day has Yorick's ghost the consolation to hear his monumental inscription read over with such a variety of plaintive tones, as denote a general pity and esteem for him;

a footway crossing the churchyard close by his grave, -not a passenger goes by without stopping to cast a look on it,-and sighing, as he walks on, Alas! poor YORICK!

STERNE

CHAP. III.

THE BEGGAR'S PETITION.

Pity the sorrows of a poor

old

man, Whose trembling limbs have borne him to your door, Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span, O give relief! and Heav'n will bless your store. These tatter'd clothes my poverty bespeak, These hoary locks proclaim my lengthen'd years; And many a furrow in my grief-worn cheekHas been the channel to a flood of tears.

Yon house, erected on the rising ground,
With tempting aspect drew me from my road;
For Plenty there a residence has found,
And Grandeur a magnificent abode.
Hard is the fate of the infirm and poor!
Here, as I crav'd a morsel of their bread,
A pamper'd menial drove me from their door,
To seek a shelter in an humbler shed.
O! take me to your hospitable dome;
Keen blows the wind, and piercing is the cold !
Short is my passage to the friendly tomb,
For I am poor and miserably old.
Should I reveal the sources of my grief,
If soft humanity e'er touch'd your breast,
Your hands would not withhold the kind relief,
And tears of pity would not be repress’d.
Heav'n sends misfortunes; why should we repine?
'Tis Heav'n has brought me to the state you see ;
And your condition may be soon like mine,
The child of Sorrow, and of Misery.
A little farm was my paternal lot,
Then like the lark I sprightly haild the morn;
But ah! Oppression forc'd me from my cot,
My cattle died, and blighted was my corn.
My daughter, once the comfort of my age,
Lur’d by a villain from her native home,
Is cast abandon’d on the world's wide stage,
Avd doon’d in scanty poverty to roam.
My tender wife, sweet soother of my care !
Struck with sad anguish at the stern decree,
Fell, ling'ring fell, a victim to despair,
And left the world to wretchedness and me.
Pity the sorrows of a poor

old man,
Whose trembling limbs have borne bim to your door,
Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span,
O! give relief! and Heav'n will bless your store.

CHAP. IV.

ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF AN UNFORTUNATE LADY.
What beck’ning ghost, along the moonlight shade
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade ?
"Tis she -but why that bleeding bosom gord,
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword?
o, ever beauteous! ever friendly! tell,
Is it in Heav'n a crime to love too well?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a Lover's or a Roman's part?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky,
For those who greatly think or bravely die?

Why bade ye else, ye pow'rs! her soul aspire
d. pove the vulgar flight of low desire ?
Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes;
The glorious fault of Angels and of Gods:
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen pris'ners in the body's cage :
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres.;
Like Eastern kings a lazy state they keep,
And, close confin'd to their own palace, sleep.

From these perhaps (ere Nature bade her die)
Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And sep’rate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to it's congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.

But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood !
See on those ruby lips the trembling breath,
Those cheeks now fading at the blast of death:
Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before,
And those love-darting eyes niust roll no more.
Thus, if Eternal Justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your childreu fall :

On all the line a sudden vengeance waits,
And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates.
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say,
(Wbile the long fun'rals blacken all the way,)
Lo! these were they, whose souls the Furies steel'd,
And curs’d with hearts unknowing how to yield.
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow
For others' good, or melt at others' wo.

What can atone (O, ever-injur'd shade!)
Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid?
No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear
Pleas’d thy pale ghost, or grac'd thy mournful bier;
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos'd,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adornd,
By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd!
What though no friends in sable weeds appear,
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year, ,
And bear about the mockery of wo
To midnight dances, and the public show :
What though no weeping Loves thy ashes grace,
Nor polish'd marble emulate thy face;
What though no sacred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb ;
Yet shall thy grave with rising flow'rs be dress’d,
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast :
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first roses of the

year

shall blow: While Angels with their silver wings o'ershade The ground, now sacred by thy reliques made.

So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.
How lov'd, how lionour'd once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee,
"Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be !.

Poets themselves must fall like those they sting, Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. Ev'n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the gen'rous tear he pays;

« ElőzőTovább »