Imagens das páginas

But none inquired how Peter used the rope, Or what the bruise, that made the stripling stoop; None could the ridges on his back behold, None sought him shiv'ring in the winter's cold; None put the question,-“ Peter, dost thou give “ The boy his food ? —What, man! the lad must live: “ Consider, Peter, let the child have bread, " He'll serve thee better if he's stroked and fed.” None reason'd thus—and some, on hearing cries, Said calmly, “ Grimes is at his exercise." Pinn'd, beaten, cold, pinch’d, threatend, and

abused His efforts punish'd and his food refused, Awake tormented,-soon aroused from sleep,— Struck if he wept, and yet compell’d to weep, The trembling boy dropp'd down and strove to pray, Received a blow, and trembling turn'd away, Or sobb’d and hid his piteous face;—while he, The savage master, grinn'd in horrid glee: He'd now the power he ever loved to show, A feeling being subject to his blow.

Thus lived the lad, in hunger, peril, pain, His tears despised, his supplications vain: Compell’d by fear to lie, by need to steal, His bed uneasy and unbless'd his meal,

For three sad years the boy his tortures bore,
And then his pains and trials were no more.

“ How died he, Peter ?” when the people said, He growl'd—“ I found him lifeless in his bed ;" Then tried for softer tone, and sigh'd, “ Poor Sam is

Yet murmurs were there, and some questions ask'd,—
How he was fed, how punish'd, and how task'd ?
Much they suspected, but they little proved,
And Peter pass'd untroubled and unmoved.

Another boy with equal ease was found,
The money granted, and the victim bound;
And what his fate?-One night it chanced he fell
From the boat's mast and perish'd in her well,
Where fish were living kept, and where the boy
(So reason'd men) could not himself destroy :-

“ Yes ! so it was,” said Peter, “ in his play, “ (For he was idle both by night and day,) “ He climb'd the main-mast and then fell below;" — Then show'd his corpse and pointed to the blow: 6 What said the jury ?”—they were long in doubt, But sturdy Peter faced the matter out: So they dismiss'd him, saying at the time, “ Keep fast your hatchway when you've boys who


This hit the conscience, and he colour'd more
Than for the closest questions put before.

Thus all his fears the verdict set aside,
And at the slave-shop Peter still applied.

Then came a boy, of manners soft and mild, Our seamen's wives with grief beheld the child; All thought (the poor themselves) that he was one Of gentle blood, some noble sinner's son, Who had, belike, deceived some humble maid, Whom he had first seduced and then betray'd : However this, he seem'd a gracious lad, In grief submissive and with patience sad.

Passive he labour'd, till his slender frame Bent with his loads, and he at length was lame: Strange that a frame so weak could bear so long The grossest insult and the foulest wrong; But there were causes

in the town they gave Fire, food, and comfort, to the gentle slave; And though stern Peter, with a cruel hand, And knotted rope, enforced the rude command, Yet he consider'd what he'd lately felt, And his vile blows with selfish pity dealt.

One day such draughts the cruel fisher made, He could not vend them in his borough-trade, But sail'd for London-mart: the boy was ill, But ever humbled to his master's will;

And on the river, where they smoothly sail'd,
He strove with terror and awhile prevail'd;
But new to danger on the angry sea,
He clung affrightend to his master's knee:
The boat grew leaky and the wind was strong,
Rough was the passage and the time was long;
His liquor fail'd, and Peter's wrath arose, —
No more is known—the rest we must suppose,
Or learn of Peter ;-Peter says, he “

he “ spied
“ The stripling's danger and for harbour tried;
“ Meantime the fish, and then th’apprentice died.”

The pitying women raised a clamour round,
And weeping said, “ Thou hast thy 'prentice drown'd.”

Now the stern man was summond to the hall,
To tell his tale before the burghers all :

gave th'account; profess'd the lad he loved, And kept his brazen features all unmoved.

The mayor himself with tone severe replied, -
“ Henceforth with thee shall never boy abide ;
“ Hire thee a freeman, whom thou durst not beat,
“ But who, in thy despite, will sleep and eat :
“ Free thou art now!—again shouldst thou appear,
“ Thou'lt find thy sentence, like thy soul, severe."

Alas! for Peter not a helping hand,
So was he hated, could he now command;
Alone he row'd his boat, alone he cast
His nets beside, or made his anchor fast;

To hold a rope or hear a curse was none,-
He toild and raild; he groan’d and swore alone.

Thus by himself compellid to live each day,
To wait for certain hours the tide's delay;
At the same times the same dull views to see,
The bounding marsh-bank and the blighted tree;
The water only, when the tides were high,
When low, the mud half-cover'd and half-dry;
The sun-burnt tar that blisters on the planks,
And bank-side stakes in their uneven ranks;
Heaps of entangled weeds that slowly float,
As the tide rolls by the impeded boat.

When tides were neap, and, in the sultry day,
Through the tall bounding mud-banks made their way,
Which on each side rose swelling, and below
The dark warm flood ran silently and slow;
There anchoring, Peter chose from man to hide,
There hang his head, and view the lazy tide
In its hot slimy channel slowly glide;
Where the small eels that left the deeper way
For the warm shore, within the shallows play;
Where gaping muscles, left upon the mud,
Slope their slow passage to the fallen flood ;-
Here dull and hopeless he'd lie down and trace
How sidelong crabs had scrawld their crooked race;
Or sadly listen to the tuneless cry
Of fishing gull or clanging golden-eye;

« AnteriorContinuar »