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What time the sea-birds to the marsh would come,
And the loud bittern, from the bull-rush home,
Gave from the salt-ditch side the bellowing boom :
He nursed the feelings these dull scenes produce,
And loved to stop beside the opening sluice;
Where the small stream, confined in narrow bound,
Ran with a dull, unvaried, sadd’ning sound;
Where all, presented to the eye or ear,
Oppress’d the soul with misery, grief, and fear.

Besides these objects, there were places three,
Which Peter seem'd with certain dread to see;
When he drew near them he would turn from each,
And loudly whistle till he pass'd the reach*.

A change of scene to him brought no relief;
In town, 'twas plain, men took him for a thief:
The sailors' wives would stop him in the street,
And say, “ Now, Peter, thou'st no boy to beat :"
Infants at play, when they perceived him, ran,
Warning each other—" That's the wicked man:”
He growld an oath, and in an angry tone
Cursed the whole place and wish'd to be alone.

Alone he was, the same dull scenes in view,
And still more gloomy in his sight they grew:

* The reaches in a river are those parts which extend from point to point. Johnson has not the word precisely in this sense ; but it is very common, and I believe used wheresoever a navigable river can be found in this country.

Though man he hated, yet employ'd alone
At bootless labour, he would swear and

groan, Cursing the shoals that glided by the spot, And gulls that caught them when his arts could not.

Cold nervous tremblings shook- his sturdy frame, And strange disease-- he couldn't say the name; Wild were his dreams, and oft he rose in fright, Waked by his view of horrors in the night,Horrors that would the sternest minds amaze, Horrors that demons might be proud to raise : And though he felt forsaken, grieved at heart, To think he lived from all mankind apart; Yet, if a man approach’d, in terrors he would start.

A winter pass'd since Peter saw the town,
And summer-lodgers were again come down;
These, idly curious, with their glasses spied
The ships in bay as anchor'd for the tide,–
The river's craft,—the bustle of the quay,-
And sea-port views, which landmen love to see.

One, up the river, had a man and boat
Seen day by day, now anchor’d, now afloat;
Fisher he seemd, yet used no net nor hook;
Of sea-fowl swimming by no heed he took,
But on the gliding waves still fix'd his lazy look:
At certain stations he would view the stream,
As if he stood bewilder'd in a dream,

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Or that some power had chain’d him for a time,
To feel a curse or meditate on crime.

This known, some curious, some in pity went,
And others question d—“ Wretch, dost thou repent ?"
He heard, he trembled, and in fear resign'd
His boat: new terror fill’d his restless mind;
Furious he grew, and up the country ran,
And there they seized him—a distemper'd man :-
Him we received, and to a parish-bed,
Follow'd and cursed, the groaning man was led.

Here when they saw him, whom they used to shun,
A lost, lone man, so harass'd and undone ;
Our gentle females, ever prompt to feel,
Perceived compassion on their anger steal ;
His crimes they could not from their memories blot,
But they were grieved, and trembled at his lot.

A priest too came, to whom his words are told;
And all the signs they shudder'd to behold.
“ Look! look !" they cried; “ his limbs with horror

shake, 56 And as he grinds his teeth, what noise they make ! “ How glare his angry eyes, and yet he's not awake: “ See! what cold drops upon his forehead stand, si And how he clenches that broad bony hand.”

The priest attending, found he spoke at times As one alluding to his fears and crimes :

VOL. II.

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“ It was the fall,” he mutter'd, “ I can show
6. The manner how-I never struck a blow :"-
And then aloud—“ Unhand me, free my chain;
“ On oath, he fell—it struck him to the brain : -
Why ask

my

father?—that old man will swear “ Against my life; besides, he wasn't there :“ What, all agreed ?-Am I to die to-day?

My Lord, in mercy, give me time to pray."

Then, as they watch'd him, calmer he became, And grew so weak he couldn't move his frame, But murmuring spake,—while they could see and hear The start of terror and the

groan

of fear;
See the large dew-beads on his forehead rise,
And the cold death-drop glaze his sunken eyes ;
Nor yet he died, but with unwonted force
Seem'd with some fancied being to discourse:
He knew not us, or with accustom'd art
He hid the knowledge, yet exposed his heart;
'Twas part confession and the rest defence,
A madman's tale, with gleams of waking sense:

“ I'll tell you all,” he said, “ the very day
6. When the old man first placed them in my way:

My father's spirit—he who always tried “ To give me trouble, when he lived and died6 When he was gone, he could not be content. « To see my days in painful labour spent,

the stream,

“ But would appoint his meetings, and he made 5. Me watch at these, and so neglect my trade.

« 'Twas one hot noon, all silent, still, serene, « No living being had I lately seen ; “ I paddled up and down and dipp'd my net, « But (such his pleasure) I could nothing get,“ A father's pleasure, when his toil was done, “ To plague and torture thus an only son ! " And so I sat and look'd

upon “ How it ran on, and felt as in a dream: 66 But dream it was not; no !-I fix'd my eyes “ On the mid stream and saw the spirits rise; “ I saw my father on the water stand, “ And hold a thin pale boy in either hand; “ And there they glided ghastly on the top “ Of the salt flood, and never touch'd a drop: “ I would have struck them, but they knew th’intent, 66 And smiled

upon

the

oar, and down they went. “ Now, from that day, whenever I began To dip my net, there stood the hard old man“ He and those boys: I humbled me and pray'd

They would be gone ;—they heeded not, but stay’d: “ Nor could I turn, nor would the boat go by, “ But gazing on the spirits, there was I:

They bade me leap to death, but I was loth to die:

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