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THE UNCLE.

A MYSTERY.

165

I grudged not that-he was the prop

Of our ancestral line,
And manly beauty was of him

A token and a sign.
“ Boy! I had loved her too-nay, more,

'Twas I who loved her first :
For months, for years, the golden thought

Within my soul was nursed :
He came-he conquered—they were wed-

My air-blown bubble burst.
“ Then on my mind a shadow fell,

And evil hopes grew rife ;
The damning thought struck in my heart

And cut me like a knife,
That she, whom all my days I loved,

Should be another's wife!
“By heaven ! it was a fearful thing

To see my brother now,
And mark the placid calm that sat

For ever on his brow,
That seemed in bitter scorn to say,

I am more loved than thou !
“ I left my home-I left the land-

I crossed the raging sea ;
In vain-in vain—where'er I turn'd,

My memory went with me;
My whole existence, night and day,

In memory seemed to be.
“ I came again I found them here-

Thou’rt like thy father, boy :
He doted on that pale face there-- .

I've seen them kiss and toy,
I've seen him lock'd in her fond arms,

Wrapp'd in delirious joy !
He disappear'd-draw nearer, child---

He died-no one knew how ;
The murdered body ne'er was found,

The tale is hushed up now;
But there was one who rightly guessea

The hand that struck the blow.

166

THE UNCLE. A MYSTERY,

“It drove her mad—yet not his death ;

No, not his death alone ;
For she had clung to hope when all

Knew well that there was none ;
No, boy ! it was a sight she saw

That froze her into stone!

“I am thy uncle, child—why stare

So frightfully aghast ?
The arras waves, but knowst thou not

'Tis nothing but the blast ?
I too have had my fears like these,

But such vain fears are past.

T'll show thee what thy mother saw

I feel 'twill ease my breast,
And this wild tempest-laden night

Suits with the purpose best,
Come hither—thou hast often sought

To open this old chest.

“It has a secret spring ; the touch

Is known to me alone.
Slowly the lid is raised, and now-

What see you that you groan
So heavily ?--That thing is but

A bare-ribbed skeleton.”

A sudden crash—the lid fell down

Three strides he backward gave :
“Oh, God ! it is my brother's self

Returning from the grave !
His grasp of lead is on my throat

Will no one help or save ?

That night they laid him on his bed,

In raving madness toss'd :
He gnash'd his teeth, and with wild oaths

Blasphemed the Holy Ghost;
And ere the light of morning broke
A sinner's soul was lost.

H. G. Bell. THE SEVEN AGES OF WOMAN.

167

THE SEVEN AGES OF WOMAN.

The world's a stage, and men have seven ages-
So Shakespere writes (king of dramatic sages !)
But he forgot to tell you in his plan
That woman plays her part as well as man.

First, how the infant heart with triumph swells,
When the red coral shakes its silver bells;
She, like young statesmen, when the rattle rings,
Leaps at the sound, and struts in leading-strings.

Next, little miss, in pinafore so prim,
With nurse so noisy, and mamma so trim ;
Eager to tell you all she has learned to utter,
Lisps, as she grasps the allotted bread and butter :
Type of her sex, who, though no longer young,
Holds everything with ease except her tongue !

A schoolgirl, then, she curls her hair in papers,
And mimics father's gout, and mother's vapours;
Tramples alike on customs and on toes,
And whispers all she hears to all she knows.
“Betty," (she cries)“ it comes into my head
Old maids grow cross because their cats are dead :
My governess has been in such a fuss
About the death of her old tabby puss !
She wears black stockings! Ha ! ha! what a pother,
'Cause one old cat's in mourning for another !”
The child of nature, free from pride and pomp,
And sure to please, though nothing but a romp.

Next, riper miss, who, nature more disclosing, Now finds some tracts of art are interposing ; And with blue laughing eyes behind the fan, First acts her part with that great actor-man.

Behold her now-an ogling, vain coquette, Catching male gudgeons in her silver net;

168

TIE SEVEN AGES OF WOMAN.

All things reversed—the neck cropt close and bare,
Scarce feels the incumbrance of a single hair,
Whilst the thick forehead tresses, frizzled full,
Rival the tufted locks that grace the bull !

Then comes that sober character—the wife,
With all the dear distracting cares of life ;
A thousand cards a thousand joys extend,
For what may not upon a card depend ?
Now she'll snatch half a glance at opera, ball,
A meteor traced by none, though seen by all;
Till spousy finds, while anxious to immure her,
A patent coffin only can secure her.

At last the dowager, in ancient flounces,
With snuff and spectacles, she folly trounces,
And moralising, thus the age denounces :
“How bold and forward each young flirt appears,
Courtship, in my time, lasted seven long years;
Now seven little months suffice, of course,
For courting, marrying, scolding, and divorce ;
What with their trussed-up shapes and pantaloons,
Dress occupies the whole of honeymoons.
They say, we have no souls ; but what more odd is,
Nor man nor woman now have any bodies !
When I was young, my heart was always tender,
And would to every spouse I had surrender;
Their wishes to refuse I never durst,
And my fourth died as happy as my first !"

Truce to such splenetic and rash designs,
And let us mingle candour with our lines.
In all the stages of domestic life-
As child or sister, parent, friend, or wife-
Woman, the source of every fond employ,
Softens affliction, and enlivens joy.
What is your boast, male rulers of the land ?
How cold and cheerless all you can command ;
Vain your ambition, vain your wealth and power,
Unless kind woman share the raptured hour;
Unless, ʼmidst all the glare of pageant art,
She adds her smile and triumphs in your heart !

: Anons WHAT IS THAT, MOTHER ?

169

WHAT IS THAT, MOTHER .

What is that, mother?

The lark, my child. The morn has but just looked out, and smiled, When he starts from his humble, grassy nest, And is up and away, with the dew on his breast, And a hymn in his heart, to yon pure, bright sphere, To warble it out in his Maker's ear.

Ever, my child, be thy morn's first lays

Tuned, like the lark's, to thy Maker's praise.
What is that, mother ?

The dove, my son ;
And that low, sweet voice, like a widow's moan,
Is flowing out from her gentle breast,
Constant and pure by that lonely nest,
As the wave is poured from some crystal urn,
For her distant dear one's quick return.

Ever, my son, be thou like the dove,
In friendship as faithful, as constant in love.

What is that, mother?

The eagle, boy;
Proudly careering his course of joy,
Firm on his own mountain vigour relying,
Brcasting the dark storm, the red bolt defying;
His wings on the wind, and his eye on the sun,
He swerves not a hair, but bears onward, right on.

Boy, may the eagle's flight ever be thinc,

Onward, and upward, true to the line.
What is that, mother?

The swan, my love :
He is floating down from his native grove ;
No loved one now, no nestling nigh-
He is floating down by himself to die;
Death darkens his eye, and unplumes his wings,
Yet the sweetest song is the last he sings.

Live so, my love, that when Death shall come,
Swan-like and sweet, it may waft thee home.

Doare,

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