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Cromer. A Descriptive Poem 1806

The poem featured here, written in blank verse, whilst not a style which is easy to appreciate in the 21st century, gives us some remarkable glimpses of Cromer at the beginning of the 19th century.

There are many allusions in the poem which may be difficult to appreciate, so we will be adding a number of notes to the text. The author himself added a goodly number of footnotes, some rather lengthy. If they are the original author's footnotes as printed they are in blue and the note is preceded by "Author's Note:"; if they are notes we have added to assist the present-day reader, they are in black and are not preceded by the reference to the author. Hover the cursor over the darker words in the text for this facility.

The poem was published in the Georgian period (though probably written earlier); for a visitor to get to Cromer it would have been by a sea journey or a long overland journey by horse or stagecoach. The nation was still under threat from Napoleonic France, there were cannons on the cliff-top at Cromer and a need to be able to identify passing ships quickly.

The poem was dedicated to Mrs Wymondham of Cromer Hall and published anonymously, though we now know it to be written by J.S.Manning.

CROMER, to thee the grateful verse I pay

A tribute due; - for to thy cliffs abrupt
And sandy shores, when pale disease had worn
My wasted frame, and sunk my spirits low,
Hopeless I fled - inhal'd the purest air
Wafted on ocean's bosom from the pole,
Till fresh and vigorous through my swelling veins
Flow'd the warm tide of renovated health.

Yes, Cromer! though thy quiet scenes retir'd

Boast not the annual crowds which fashion sends
From London's sickly air to other shores,
Where Dissipation but removes her court;
Yet hast thou charms for those, whose simple taste
Is pleas'd with Nature in her chaste attire.

Fair shines the summer morn - and thro' the pane

That fronts the orient sky, the orb of day
Has thrown his slanting beams; cheerful I rise
And hasten to the beach, where the calm sea
In gentle swell scarce murmurs on the ear;
Drawn to the shore the cars in order stand
To Neptune's vot'ries sacred, in his wave
Who seek the pure ablution-as each morn
In Ganges' stream thy followers, Brahma, lave.

Perplex'd the timid Beauty stands in doubt,

Nor dares to tempt the wave-whilst unappall'd
A sister Grace springs in with dauntless plunge,
And from the bold immersion rising fair
With sinews brac'd, and cheek of livelier glow,
Seems a new Venus floating on the wave.

The infant crying in his mother's arms

Shrinks from the spray, as from the holy stream
Which o'er his face at the baptismal font
The priest with mystic, sanctifying hand
Sprinkled and stamp 'd him Christian; yet his cries
Regard not - plunge him in the briny surge:-
So shall his manhood's prime thy care repay
With health's warm flush, and strength of vigorous nerve.

The busy group is pleasing to the eye -

The vehicles by turns into the sea
Driven far and deep, till midway up the wheels
The waters roll, and by the patient horse
Drawn slowly back to shore - whilst on the marge,
The fair who dread the wave inhale the breeze,
As idly pacing on the firm smooth sand
They print its surface with their airy step.

Behind, the many-colour'd cliffs arise

In various masses swelling on the eye,
There gently shelving to the water's edge,
There beetling o'er the shelter'd boats, which care
And caution by experience taught, have drawn
Close to their base protected from the storm
Here up the steep ascent the ladder winds,
And o'er the inland view where blooms the heath,
And ripening corn-fields wave their golden stores,
The useful Beacon lifts its graceful form.

Yet not alone man's highly-favour'd kind

Usurps the main-the brute creation claims
An equal right. Mark how the active dog,
(Sprung from the northern trans-atlantic race,)
With dauntless spirit dashes through the deep,
Hunting the sea-fowl, as she sits secure
On ocean's tranquil bosom; on he swims,
Labouring with eager wishes to his prey,
Which now he hopes to seize-the wary bird
Marks his approach, and on expanded wings
Mounts in the air, and mocks his vain attempt,
Him, wearied and defeated of his aim,
To the dry beach his master's voice recalls.
Thus man through life pursues the fleeting form
Of happiness, but ever when he tries
To clasp the object of his fond pursuit,
The unsubstantial vision fades in air.

Where down the shelving cliff the path oblique

Is trac'd through many a winding to the beach,
With rainbow neck, and eyes that flame with fire,
The generous courser comes; but as he hears
The murmuring sea, and views the whit'ning surf,
He snorts - and starts - and often back recoils,
Oft by his rider turn'd - till when the surge
Has dash'd his feet, he springs with desperate plunge,
And throws the baffled horseman in the deep!
But other steeds, accustom'd to the tide,
Go firm and fearless in, and stand unmov'd,
Though round their sides the foaming surges lash.

The Jetty now receives its morning crowd

In quiet walk upon its pebbly base.
What though its form compares not with the pile
Fast and stupendous, which near Ramsgate's shores
Stretches its arms into the vanquish'd main,
And clasps its waters in a wide embrace;
Yet here full often Beauty's step has mov'd,
Often her voice been heard - and her sweet smiles
Perchance have beam'd like rays of orient light.
Here, too, as gazing on the vast expanse
Of ocean's surface, to the ear of youth
Has Learning told why ebbs and flows the tide
Or from the distant vessel, as her hull
Sank from the view, her whit'ning sails. still seen,
Explain'd the earth's convexity. - Here, too,
Has Genius, kindling with a poet's fire,
And soaring high on Fancy's wing, conceiv'd
Themes not ungrateful to the fair-one's ear.

What various hues the ocean's face displays

In different streaks ! Approaching to the shore
The breakers curling like the drifted snow
Shew purest white: here deepen'd by the gloom
Of the tall cliff o'ershadowing, or the cloud
Slow passing, dark and sable frowns the flood
Beyond, the tinge of azure grateful to the eye
Arrests its gaze, and fills it with delight

'Tis noon ; and not a breath disturbs the face

Of the smooth waveless sea-cairn as the breast
Of tranquil innocence-calm as thy looks,
Lamented parent, when with eyes uprais'd
To Heav'n, thou sank'st to nature's blest repose.
Bright shines the cloudless sky; and not a speck
Stains its pure azure-in his realms of light,
As from his chamber comes the bridegroom forth,
Or as a giant, proud to run his course,
The sun rejoiceth, with a radiant look,
Like Heav'n's selectest smile on angels shed.

Far as the view commands the watery plain

Is seen no object, save where sea-fowls wheel
In rapid flight to seize their finny prey.
Thus, hapless Selkirk, when by shipwreck thrown
On the lone isle immortaliz'd by thee,
Oft didst thou gaze, and strain thine aching eye
To catch some friendly sail, if but a speck,
Seen in the dim horizon, but in vain;
Till from thy heart Hope ebbing fast away,
Thou sought'st thy care - and breath'dst a pray'r to Heaven.

No foot is heard upon the Jetty's base ;

I am alone - and leaning o'er its side
I gaze in silence - thinking on the deep,
Its dangers, and its wonders, and its paths,
Dark, trackless, and unsearchable by all
Save by His eye who made earth, sea, and heav'n,
Fill'd with these thoughts, I ponder till my mind
Shrinks back in mute astonishment and awe.

'Tis good to be alone - it turns the view

Into the inward man, and makes him strive
To root the weeds of passion from his breast
That choke the growth of virtue.
Who can gaze Upon the green expanse of waters,though they seem
Smooth as the mirror which to beauty's eye
Reflects her graceful form, and not be rais'd
Above the low contentions of the world
Not feel the glow that meditation gives,
Whose sacred musings lift him to his God?

Light springs the gale, and round yon eastern point,

Stretching in bold projection from the land,
In quick succession comes the frequent bark
Wafting the freight of commerce-every sail
Is set unreef'd, courting the gentle breeze ;
Their canvas glitters in the noon-tide sun,
And as the vessels crowd upon the eye,
They spread, and whiten on the vast expanse,
Covering the ocean's surface, where but late
No solitary object met the view.

Before them plows her course the stately Ship

With guardian thunders to protect their stores,
And as with sails unfurl'd she graceful moves,
She seems the empress of the vassal wave
Soon as her undulating flag is seen,
The watchful signal on the lofty coast
At various stations flies, and waves in air,
Till from her mast the answering signal floats.

These fragile vessels to the careless eye

Seem but the sport of tempests, yet by them
Does commerce circulate through every vein
Of Britain's empire-life-blood of the state.
By them are far-divided countries join'd
In ties of brotherhood and friendly trade.
In every clime their busy sail is spread,
From Afric's sun-burnt Cape to Greenland's snows,
From Darien's isthmus to the sea that rolls
Where spicy groves lift high their fragrant heads,

Nor yet is wealth alone from them deriv'd,

But power and fame; for on their humble decks
Are learnt the rudiments of naval skill;
Are train'd the heroes of the naval war;
Who at their country's call, by glory led;
And thee, undaunted NELSON, rush to arms,
Wooing the form of Danger as a bride.
As when on Egypt's shores, the hostile fleets
In conflict join'd, thy dread volcanoes burst
As thunder awful, rapid as the flash
Of Heav'n-and Gallia's navy was no more!
Whilst Nilus shrinking on his refluent tide,
Heard the loud roar, and trembled to his source
Or when majestic on the swelling tide,
In Gorgon terrors clad, BRITANNIA'S form:
With her lov'd Howe the fleets of France defied,
And died the azure main with hostile blood.

The tide has ebb'd down to its lowest mark;

No waters roll along the Jetty's side;
The even surface of the sands is seen
Stretching from Runton to the jutting point,
Near to the east where Overstrand extends.
Before me lies a rugged bank of stone
Accumulated by successive floods,
Heap'd like the mound that guards the warrior's camp;
The anchor firmly with its barbed tooth
Bites deep - into the sand, near where the buoy
Obtrusive on the view to pilots tells
Safe from the shoals to steer their cautious prows;
The peds late riding on the buoyant wave
Lie on the ground wide scatter'd, and a mark
Unsightly stands the kelp-encircled coy,
In which th' imprison'd shell-fish are confin'd,
Till Luxury asks them for her splendid board.

Yet does my curious eye .in vain explore

The spot where still the mould'ring ruins lie,
Which (old tradition faint and doubtful tells)
Are the last fragments. of the sacred pile
Which erst in Shipdon rear'd its lofty fane
In Gothic grandeur, when the CONQUEROR rul'd
With iron sceptre o'er his vassal realm,
Shipdon could boast its lordship's vast domains;
But he insatiate waters of the sea
With slow yet sure encroachment roll'd their waves,
Destructive as the silent march of time,
And buried Shipdon's honours in the deep.

And still the wave encroaches-still when storms

Swell high the wintry flood, and the rough tide
With angry billows shakes the mould'ring-cliff,
Does he whose cottage beetles o'er its edge,
(An aerie on the mountain's craggy point,)
List the hoarse surge, and tremble at its voice.

Pass but a few short years, and, Cromer, thou,

Thy lovely vales, thy purple-blooming heaths,
Thy Gothic temple built in times remote,
And from decay more venerable, all may sink,
Lost in the ocean's fathomless abyss!
For all things human perish; and the eye
Weeps, as it dwells on History's faithful page,
O'er cities once that proudly stood, now fall'n
O'er Babylon and Memphis, and o'er thee,
Still in thy ruins graceful, fair Palmyra,
O'er Athens long for arts and arms renown'd,
O'er Thebes immortaliz'd by Pindar's verse,
And Carthage, once the mistress of the seas,
As thou art now, Britannia ; but may fate
More kind thy destin'd course attend, and still
As blest with freedom, bright in fame thou shin'st,
May thy hand grasp the sceptre of the main!

These wrecks to men are wondrous : but to

Him in whose vast view, in whose eternal mind
A thousand planets seem but as a point,
A thousand ages dwindle to a span,
The rise and fall of cities and of states
Are but the rose's blossom and decay.

But, hark! the rolling wheel, the sounding lash,

Disturb my thoughts, and rouse me from my trance.
The sun is in the heaven ; and the gay crowd
Of pleasure's votaries now usurp the shore,
To wheel their airy circle in his beams,
Like sportive flies that frolic while 'tis May.

Slow moves the heavy phaeton, its wheels

Deep sinking in the sands; whilst swifter far
The light and airy. Curricle flies on
With dangerous velocity; the Chair
With horses harness'd lengthways rapid moves
Its speed more dangerous still, the leader oft
Turning rebellious to the imperfect rein,
Mocking the driver's skill; sublime he sits,
(In fancy great as Grecian charioteer,
Urging the race along th' Olympic course,
Or Roman chieftain in the victor's car,)
And waves in air the far-resounding lash
To aid the rein defective-but in vain.
His steeds, impatient of the frequent stroke,
Disdain his weak control, and urge their way
With furious speed along the ocean's marge
Hurl'd from his seat, his dreams of pride expire,
His skill defeated, and his glittering car
Do various fragments scatter'd on the sand.

Quiet the steady SOCIABLE proceeds,

No danger in its course; and in the rear
The humbler Vehicle that bears display'd,
In letters legible by every eye,
The stamp of fiscal avarice. To and fro
Prance the proud steeds; and on the patient ass,
A lovely charge, the form of beauty sits.

Poor and neglected, and ill-treated brute

Thou hast been long abus'd-thy useful race
Contempt but little merited have borne,
And cruelty not merited at all !
The pitying Muse (if verse like hers could live,
Which e'en delusive fancy dares not hope)
Would. rescue thee from undeserv'd neglect,
And bid thy merits live in after-times.
To man thou little ow'st his cares are given
To rear the nobler steed : the favourite horse
Is pamper'd, manag'd, exercis'd, and train'd;
The winds of heaven to surpass in speed,
And gain the honours of the rapid course,
To bear his master through the lengthen'd chase,
O'er hills, and floods, and vallies, and to shine
With gaudy trappings in the van of war.

But thou, abandon'd from thy earliest age,

Art doom'd in silent misery to feel
The tricks of children and the blows of slaves;
Us'd for the vilest offices, and press'd
With frequent loads beyond thy strength to bear;
And when the labours of the day have ceas'd,
Art turn'd upon the common's stinted verge
Of coarsest herbs to pick thy scanty meal !
I But happier days shall shine-pathetic Sterne
First wak'd the sigh of pity for thy woes;
And late, so fortune wills, thou art become
The useful favourite of the British fair.
She will not task thy strength beyond its powers,
Nor goad thy sides with many-pointed steel.
Her hand shall guide thee with a gentle rein
Pleas'd with thy charge, and docile to command.
Not fam'd Bucephalus with greater joy
Bore the world's victor through the ranks of war,
Than thou, blest Albion's fair-e'en now thou bear'st
With mingled pride and pleasure to the shore
The hapless Julia; o'er whose feverish cheek
Passes the hectic flush-along the tide
Slowly thou pacest, and thy fetlocks deep
Plungest in ocean's waves, that she may catch
The pure salubrious breezes as they spring
Fresh from the blue serene, whose gentle breath
May fan the half-extinguish'd flame of life
Nor shall thy cares be fruitless-though the pangs
Of love despis'd and sorrow's rankling tooth
Have blanch'd the roses of her check-the smile
Again shall beam from Julia's lucid eye;
Like mom's clear rays that glitter in the East;
Nor shall her beauties perish till they fade,
Like evening suns, into their native heav'n.

Nor by the circling wheel or ambling steed

is the wide strand usurp'd: there active Youth,
And Age's bending form, and fairy groups
Of sportive children drink the gales of health.
These mark the surface of the yielding shore
With figures rudely drawn and terms mispelt
To prove their early scholarship : apart
Perchance the lover its his dreamy mood
Prints on the sand his mistress' cherished names
(A short-lived emblem of his transient hopes,)
Whose lines the coming tide shall wash away.

Now let me quit the shore's extended marge,

And quick ascend the cliff's high towering ridge.
The summit gain'd, the busy crowd below
Appear with lessen'd magnitude to view,
And the wide surface of the liquid plain
Shines a smooth mirror of cerulean tint.
As still my steps proceed, a vast extent
Opes on my view of objects dimly seen,
On youth's glad eye as grow the scenes of life.
The lofty Fane o'er humbler fabrics tow'rs,
Like the tall mast of some proud ship of war
Amongst a fleet of gondolas : the town,
Diminish'd to the view, appears a toy
Fram'd d by th' ingenious modeller, or built
By infant architects in playful mood.
Beyond it, on the left, the busy mill
With sails wide spreading tops the neighbouring height
That gently rises sloping from the vale;
Behind, the wood its leafy arms extends
With friendly shelter round the ancient dome,
Where honour's manly pride with WYNDHAM dwells,
And beauty, bright as fabling poets give
To Venus, with its dazzling charms adorns
His lov'd companion, fairest of the fair.
Far off, secluded in the distant vale,
Thy village, Runton, lifts its humble head,
By me remember'd with no thankless heart;
For there, when disappointment cross'd my path,
And check'd youth's wayward wanderings, there I found
A mother's kindness in a sister's love;
And in retirement studious, haply learn'd
Some valued lessons that through life shall last.

Near the cliff's edge, extending to the right,

Frowns the stern batt'ry, guardian of the coast.
Yet not to walls, nor to defensive lines,
By rules constructed drawn from Vauban's art,
Or Cohorn's skill, in danger's awful hour
Britannia looks for conquest, but to minds
Whom valour teaches to deride the storm,
And thy green waves, tempestuous deep, that flow.
Round our fair isle, the bulwarks of the land.

I've reach'd the summit where the Beacon stands,

And as I gaze intent, far off at sea,
Full many a league descry the distant sail
That seems a little Nautilus to view
Wide spreads the inland prospect; to the eye
Alternate hill and vale, and wood and plain,
In pleasing change succeed-oh ! scenes belov'd,
And justly treasur'd in my grateful mind
As memory's richest stores, your image lives
A blooming Eden cherish'd in my heart;
For I have seen your varied charms with HER
Whose beauty dazzles like the diamond's blaze,
Whose form of symmetry enchants the soul
Like the fam'd statue, boast of Grecian art,
Whose voice, more pleasing than the seraph's song,
In well-known tones still vibrates on my ear.

Yes - she has shewn me where the landscape glow'd

With brighter hues, as if to court the gaze,
And where its shades retiring shun'd the view,
And where the distant steeple o'er the wood
Fair rising, pointed with its spire to heaven.
Charm'd with th' instructive accents, as they fell
Soft as the show'rs in April's dewy eve,
New beauties rose to meet my wondering eye,
Oft seen perchance, yet not observ'd before.

Now when the sun still darts a fervid ray,

'Tis pleasant slow to wander in the lanes,
Whose close recesses shut me from the eye
Of garish day, and leave me to myself.
On either side the banks high rais'd present
A fence impenetrable, save where swine,
By hunger led, have rooted up the soil,
Seeking the fallen acorns, and the mast
From spreading beech-trees shaken by the storm,
Their favourite food; or where the gunner's step
Has forc'd its way,. chasing the wounded hare,
The timid victim of his level'd tube.

Topping the bank, the reddening hawthorn stands

Stripp'd of its snowy blossoms; and the bramble
Shews to the passing eye its clustering load
Of deep-empurpled berries, by the hand
Of roving schoolboy from the bending branch
Oft pluck'd with keen delight; the noisome poppy
Glares on the eye obtrusive, and half hides
The fair campanula's retiring charms,
That bending graceful droops its azure head.
From either bank the trees of various growth
Their branches intertwine with friendly shade,
Forming a pendent arbour o'er my head
In such a lane (as Otway's muse has sung)
Did bold Chamont espy - a wrinkled hag
Picking dry sticks," and from tier ominous tongue
Heard of Monimia's love the startling tale!

As still I trace the windings of the lane

I mark the frequent step of wandering kine,
The poor man's wealth, by want and hunger driven
To pick their scanty food; one stooping, crops
The herbage of the path's untrodden edge;
Another more adventurous half up climbs
The sloping bank to strip the leaf-clad boughs,
Whilst frisking by her side the wanton calf
Its antic feats performs; across the road
One ruminating stands as if to stop
My devious way, but as I near approach
Aside slow-moving opes a narrow path.
With rugged coat and patient look the Ass
The prickly thistle crops, the only sight
Which mov'd the fancy of the Roman sage
To laughter, winning his reluctant smile.

Why bleats yon lamb, as, hurrying to and fro,

Anxious it seeks an outlet from the lane ?
Poor innocent ! the cause of thy distress
Well I conjecture; for as late I pass'd
I saw thy. fellows in the upland mead
Grazing the plenteous herbage, and I mark'd
The gap thro' which with careless step thou stray'dst:
Be not afraid - I doom thee not to bleed,
I am no butcher arm'd with murderous steel
Against thy life; nor come I like a thief
In night's deep gloom to snatch. thee from thy home,
Be confident.; and I with friendly care
Will drive thee back, and guide thee to thy flock.

Oh! that with equal ease I could reclaim

The wanderer from virtue ; to his eye
Shew the blest paradise his folly stray'd from ;
And o'er his mind, by true repentance soften'd,
Could pour the strong conviction that "her ways
Are ways of pleasantness--her paths are peace!"

These rural objects and these rural scenes

Are pleasing subjects for the painter's skill,
Such as from Morland's magic pencil breath'd
New life into the canvas; or when Cuyp
With nicest art inform'd by nature's rules
The wandering cattle group'd, whose mimic forms
Seem to the wondering eye to live and move.

Emerging from the lane, where long I've stray'd,

The village common opens to my view;
And as the sun declining to the west
His golden radiance throws, their evening sports,
The sons of labour, freed from toil, begin.

The manly game of cricket justly claims

The muse's earliest song ; the wickets pitch'd
In order due, and o'er the green dispers'd
The watchful scouts, the careful bowler stands,
And meditates his aim, then forward springs,
And with elactic nerve projects the ball
Against th' opposing wicket; if it come
(Like Parthian arrows) with unerring speed,
The cautious batter blocks its dangerous force;
But if (as sometimes chance it must) it flier.
Wide of its destin'd mark, with bat uprais'd,
And strength collected for the blow, he strikes
The sounding ball far whirling through the air
In vain the active scout with swiftest step
Bounds o'er the green, and strives with ready hand
To catch it ere it falls-the distance mocks
His utmost efforts, while the batters quick
With frequent interchange their wickets leave
Adding repeated notches to their score,
Whilst cheering plaudits through the field resound.
Near to the common's edge, where high in air
The sign suspended flutters to the gale,
Unlike the labours of the ancient disk,
Though borrow'd from its use ; the shining quoit
By skilful rivals thrown with nicest aim,
Curves through the air to hit the destin'd mark;
Eager the swains contend ; for hope and thirst
Their labours quicken, whilst the victor's prize,
(From cellar cool by ruddy damsel brought,)
The mantling tankard foams with generous ale.

By manly exercise, and sports like these,

(And others foreign from the muse's song,)
Are taught the youth of Britain to despise
The sea's rough dangers, and the toils of war.
Robust his frame, and nerv'd his vig'rous mind,
The humblest peasant boasts a dauntless soul,
By threats unterrified, as unsubdu'd.
From cold Canadian climes to India's shore,
And arid Egypt parch'd by sultry suns,
Sinks the proud foe beneath his conquering arm.

The Sun hath set in splendour ; and the shades,

Of twilight glimmer o'er the dark'ning plain
Still I pursue my walls for evening sounds,
The lowing of the herds, the bleat of sheep
Penn'd in th' appointed limits of their fold,
With frequent interchange their wickets leave
Adding repeated notches to their score,
Whilst cheering plaudits through the field resound.
Near to the common's edge, where high in air
The sign suspended flutters to the gale,
Unlike the labours of the ancient disk,
Though borrow'd from its use ; the shining quoit
By skilful rivals thrown with nicest aim,
Curves through the air to hit the destin'd mark;
Eager the swains contend ; for hope and thirst
Their labours quicken, whilst the victor's prize,
(From cellar cool by ruddy damsel brought,)
The mantling tankard foams with generous ale,
By manly exercise, and sports like these,
(And others foreign from the muse's song,)
Are taught the youth of Britain to despise
The sea's rough dangers, and the toils of war.
Robust his frame, and nerv'd his vig'rous mind,
The humblest peasant boasts a dauntless soul,
By threats unterrified, as unsubdu'd.
From cold Canadian climes to India's shore,
And arid Egypt parch'd by sultry suns,
Sinks the proud foe beneath his conquering arm.
The Sun hath set in splendour ; and the shades,
Of twilight glimmer o'er the dark'ning plain
Still I pursue my walls for evening sounds,
The lowing of the herds, the bleat of sheep
Penn'd in th' appointed limits of their fold,
And the hoarse murmurs of the distant surge,
Suit with the lonely musings of my soul.

Where have my footsteps stray'd? know I this path?

Alas ! too well, It leads-but memory here
Hath but a thankless office; and the tongue
That tells the harrowing tale, sounds like the croak
Of ravens to the dying murderer's ear.
Ah ! list that moan-it is poor Mary's voice,
Mary, the childless maniac*, who has sworn
"Her footsteps ne'er shall cross the threshold more:"
And never have they cross'd it since her oath
Was register'd in Heaven-Oh ! how the heart
Bleeds o'er the hapless story of her woes !

In youth's fair morn she shone in native grace

The hamlet's pride. The ruddy glow of health
Burnt on her cheek, whose sun-embrowned tint
Blush'd deepest contrast with her bosom's snow,
When in the mazes of the rural dance
The amorous winds her kerchief blew aside
That veil'd a shape of heaven. Many a swain
Sigh'd for her modest beauties, which had won
Young Henry's constant heart. A peasant's son
Was Henry; low in birth, but great in soul.
Oft had he brav'd the dangers of the deep,
And the loud thunder of. the battle's roar,
With dauntless enterprise; and oft his brow
Had valour circled with the wreath of fame.

Earnest he woo'd, and won her virgin love:

And well remember'd by the village train
Is the glad day, when, blushing like the rose,
She at the altar pledg'd the nuptial vow,
And to her Henry gave her maiden charms.
Yet bliss is ne'er complete-no infant's smile
Beam'd on their hopes, and crown'd their mutual loves.
And often as the village mother clasp'd
In her fond arms the darling of her heart,
A secret tear would steal from Mary's eye
That she no offspring knew-a barren bride

Heaven sent at last, propitious to her prayers,

A cherub boy, sweet as his mother's beauty,
Lusty in health., and laughing like the spring.
Ye who are mothers now, who once ne'er hop'd
To know a mother's joys, speak if ye can
The ecstacies that swell'd in Mary's soul.
Not warmer pride did Rome's great matron feel,
When to her Gracchi pointing she exclaim'd,
"These are my treasures!" than in Mary's breast
Flow'd the strong current of maternal love,
When watching o'er her infant's cradled sleep,
Or to her Henry shewing how he smil'd
His father's image-this indeed was bliss,
Bright, yet as transient as the meteor's gleam!

One wintry night, when wizard frost had bound

The earth in chains, and with her babe she sat
Hoping her Henry's long-desir'd return
Thro' the loud storm she hears his well-known voice,
And springs to give him welcome-fatal speed!
Her hasty foots the. treacherous ice deceiv'd,
And, down. her hapless infant from her arms
Fell on the frozen earth, to rise .no more !
But who can paint the mother's anguish'd soul,
Clasping her lifeless babe? She shed no tear
(That had been bliss beyond expression great)
She stood in fix'd amaze-in silent horror
O'er the dead body of her luckless child,
Kill'd by its heedless parent!
Reason's powers, Unequal to the dreadful conflict, fled;
And wild delirium seiz'd her fever'd brain
Frequent she call'd on death; but, Heav'n so will'd,
Still, still she lives-a monument of woe !
Sad sepulchre of long-departed bliss!

Her Henry's love yet watches o'er her griefs,

As through the livelong day, from year to year,
With wearied step she paces to and fro,
A self-devoted prisoner in her cot.
And oft the stranger, as he passes by,
Gazes with pity on her grief-worn farm,
Whilst utter'd in a voice of saddest moan,
This wild expression harrows up his soul
"Ne'er shalt thou, murderer, pass the threshold
more!" -

All-powerful Being-thou, whose mighty sway

Extends alike o'er matter and o'er mind,
Try me (if so it please thy heav'nly will)
*With deep affliction; on my feeble head
Rain sores and shames, or to the very lips
Steep me in poverty; and I will bow
With reverential awe, and kiss thy chastening rod.
But spare the trembling energies of mind,
The nerve that vibrates to the fever'd brain
Nor let thy suppliant stand a piteous mark,
Like yon scath'd oak that meets my startled eye -
Its trunk unhurt ; its top, late tow'ring fair,
Now struck and blasted by the flash of Heav'n.