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What more he urged I have not heard ;
His reasons could not well be stronger:
So Death the poor delinquent spared,
And left to live a little longer.
Yet calling up a serious look,
His hour-glass trembled while he spoke,
Neighbour,” he said, “ farewell; no more
Shall Death disturb your mirthful hour;
And further, to avoid all blame
Of cruelty upon my name,
To give you time for preparation,
And fit you for your future station,
Three several Warnings shall you have,
Before you're summon'd to the grave:
Willing for once I'll quit my prey,
And grant a kind reprieve :
In hopes you'll have no more to say,
But when I call again this way,
Well pleased the world will leave.”
To these conditions both consented,
And parted perfectly contented.
What next the hero of our tale befell,
How long he lived, how wise, how well,
How roundly he pursued his course,
And smoked his pipe, and stroked his horse,
The willing Muse shall tell :
He chaffer'd then, he bought, he sold,
Nor once perceived his growing old,
Nor thought of Death as near;
His friends not false, his wife no shrew,
Many his gains, his children few,
He pass'd his hours in peace:
But while he view'd his wealth increase,
While thus along life's dusty road
The beaten track content he trod,
Old Time, whose haste no mortal spares,
Uncall’d, unheeded, unawares,
Brought on his eightieth year.
And now one night in musing mood,
As all alone he sate,
The unwelcome messenger of Fate
Once more before him stood.
Half kill'd with anger and surprise,
“ So soon return'd?" old Dobson cries.
“ So soon d'ye call it?" Death replies; “ Surely, my friend, you're but in jest;
Since I was here before,
'Tis six-and-thirty years at least,
And you are now fourscore.”
“ So much the worse,” the clown rejoin'd;
“ To spare the aged would be kind:
However, see your search be legal;
And your authority-is't regal?
Else you are come on a fool's errand,
With but a Secretary's warrant.
Besides you promised me Three Warnings,
Which I have look'd for nights and mornings:
But for that loss of time and ease,
I can recover damages."
“ I know,” cries Death,“ that, at the best,
I seldom am a welcome guest:
But don't be captious, friend, at least :
I little thought you'd still be able
To stump about your farm and stable;
Your years have run to a great length,
I wish you joy, though, of your strength."
“ Hold,” says the farmer, “ not so fast, I have been lame this four years past."
“ And no great wonder,” Death replies; " However, you still keep your eyes; And sure, to see one's loves and friends, For legs and arms would make amends."
Perhaps,” says Dobson, so it might; But latterly I've lost my sight.”
“ This is a shocking story, 'faith; Yet there's some comfort still,” says Death: " Each strives your sadness to amuse, I warrant you hear all the news.”
“ There's none,” cries he; “ and if there were, I'm grown so deaf, I could not hear.”
Nay then,” the spectre stern rejoin'd, “ These are unjustifiable yearnings;
If you are Lame, and Deaf, and Blind, You've had your Three sufficient Warnings.
So come along, no more we'll part:"
He said, and touch'd him with his dart;
And now old Dobson, turning pale,
Yields to his fate-so ends my tale.
PARENT of virtue, if thine ear,
Attend not now to sorrow's cry; If now the pity-streaming tear
Should haply on thy cheek be dry; Indulge my votive strain, O sweet Humanity!
Come, ever welcome to my breast!
A tender, but a cheerful guest;
Nor always in the gloomy cell
Of life-consuming sorrow dwell ;
For sorrow, long-indulged and slow,
Is to Humanity a foe;
And grief, that makes the heart its prey,
Wears sensibijity away:
Then comes, sweet nymph, instead of thee,
The gloomy fiend, Stupidity.
O may that fiend be banish'd far,
Though passions hold eternal war!
Nor ever let me cease to know
The pulse that throbs at joy or woe;
Nor let my vacant cheek be dry,
When sorrow fills a brother's eye;
Nor may the tear that frequent flows
From private or from social woes,
E'er make this pleasing sense depart!
Ye Cares, O harden not my heart!
If the fair star of fortune smile,
Let not its flattering power beguile,
Nor, borne along the favouring tide,
My full sails swell with floating pride.
Let me from wealth but hope content,
Remembering still it was but lent;
To modest merit spread my store,
Unbar my hospitable door;
Nor feed, with pomp, an idle train,
While Want uppitied pines in vain.
If Heaven, in every purpose wise,
The envied lot of wealth denies;
If doom'd to drag life's painful load
rough poverty's uneven road, And for the due bread of the day, Destined to toil as well as pray;