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So much, that in our later stages,
When pains grow sharp, and sickness rages,
The greatest love of life appears.
This great affection to believe,
Which all confess, but few perceive,-
If old assertions can't prevail,
Be pleased to hear a modern tale.
When sports went round, and all were gay,
On neighbor Dodson's wedding-day,
Death called aside the jocund groom
With him into another room,
And looking grave_“You must,” says he,
“Quit your sweet bride, and come with me.”
"With you! and quit my Susan's side!
With you!" the hapless husband cried;
“Young as I am, 'tis monstrous hard!
Besides, in truth, I'm not prepared:
My thoughts on other matters go;
This is my wedding-day, you know."
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-
“Neighbor," he said, “farewell! No more
Shall Death disturb your mirthful hour;
And farther, 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 you shall have,
Before you're summoned 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 chaffered 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 passed his hours in peace.
But while he viewed his wealth increase,
While thus along Life's dusty road
The beaten track content he trod,
Old Time, whose haste no mortal spares,
Uncalled, unheeded, unawares,
Brought on his eightieth year.
And now, one night, in musing mood
As all alone he sat,
The unwelcome messenger of Fate
Once more before him stood.
Half killed with anger and surprise,
“So soon returned!” old Dodson cried.
“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 rejoined,
“To spare the agèd 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 looked 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 these 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 Dodson, "so it might, But latterly I've lost my sight.”
“This is a shocking tale, 'tis true, But still there's comfort left for you: 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 rejoined,
“These are unwarrantable 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 touched him with his dart.
And now old Dodson, turning pale,
Yields to his fate-so ends my tale.
Hester Thrale Piozzi (1741–1821)
One night came on a hurricane,
The sea was mountains rolling,
When Barney Buntline turned his quid,
And said to Billy Bowling:
"A strong nor'wester's blowing, Bill;
Hark! don't ye hear it roar, now?
Lord help 'em, how I pities them
Unhappy folks on shore now!
"Foolhardy chaps who live in towns,
What danger they are all in, And now lie quaking in their beds,
For fear the roof should fall in;
Poor creatures! how they envies us,
And wishes, I've a notion,
For our good luck, in such a storm,
To be upon the ocean!
And as for them who're out all day
On business from their houses, And late at night are coming home,
To cheer their babes and spouses, –
While you and I, Bill, on the deck
Are comfortably lying,
My eyes! what tiles and chimney-pots
About their heads are flying!
“And very often have we heard
How men are killed and undone By overturns of carriages,
By thieves, and fires in London;
We know what risks all landsmen run,
From noblemen to tailors;
Then, Bill, let us thank Providence
That you and I are sailors.”
Charles Dibdin (1745-1814]
WHEN chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors meet,
As market-days are wearing late,
And folk begin to tak the gate;
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
And gettin' fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, and stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Whare sits our sulky sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
This truth fand honest Tam o' Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter
(Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonnie lasses).
O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise,
As ta’en thy ain wife Kate's advice!
She tauld thee weel thou wast a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou wast na sober;
That ilka melder, wi’ the miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
That every naig was ca'd a shoe on,
The smith and thee gat roaring fou on;
That at the Lord's house, even on Sunday,
Thou drank wi' Kirkton Jean till Monday.
She prophesied that, late or soon,
Thou would be found deep drowned in Doon;
Or catched wi' warlocks i’ the mirk,
By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.
Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
To think how monie counsels sweet,
How monie lengthened, sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises!
But to our tale:-Ae market-night,
Tam had got planted unco right,
Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,
Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, Souter Johnny,
His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony;
Tam lo'ed him like a vera brither;--
They had been fou for weeks thegither!
The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter;
And aye the ale was growing better: