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I'll tell, that if they be not glad,
They yet may envy me:
'Twould vex me worse than scorn !
And yet it cannot be forborne, Unless my heart would like my thoughts be torn,
He is, if they can find him, fair
And fresh, and fragrant too; As after rain the summer air, And looks as lilies do,
That are this morning blown !
Yet, yet I doubt, he is not known, Yet, yet I fear to have him fully shown.
But he hath eyes so large, and bright,
Which none can see, and doubt
But then to raise my fears,
His voice- - what maid soever hears Will be my rival, though she have but ears.
I'll tell no more ! yet I love him,
And he loves me ; yet so,
In each so free from blame,
That both of us would gain new fame, If love's strong fears would let me tell his name !
THE THREE GRAVES.
A FRAGMENT OF A SEXTON'S TALE.
[The Author has published the following humble fragment, encouraged by the decisive recommendation of more than one of our most celebrated living Poets. The language was intended to be dramatic; that is suited to the narrator ; and the metre corresponds to the homeliness of the diction. It is therefore presented as the fragment, not of a Poem, but of a common Ballad-tale. Whether this is sufficient to justify the adoption of such a style, in any metrical composition not professedly ludicrous, the Author is himself in some doubt. At all events, it is not presented as poetry, and it is in no way connected with the Author's judgment concerning poetic diction. Its merits, if any, are exclusively psychological. The story which must be supposed to have been narrated in the first and second parts is as follows :
Edward, a young farmer, meets at the house of Ellen her bosom-friend Mary, and commences an acquaintance, which ends in a mutual attachment. With her consent, and by the advice of their common friend Ellen, he announces his hopes and intentions to Mary's mother, a widow-woman bordering on her fortieth year, and from constant health, the possession
* First printed at the end of the sixth number of The Friend (Thursday, September 21, 1809), as the third and fourth parts of a tale consisting of six. “The two last parts," adds the author, may be given hereafter, if the present should appear to have afforded pleasure, and to have answered the purpose of a relief and amusement to my readers."
of a competent property, and from having had no other children but Mary and another daughter (the father died in their infancy), retaining for the greater part her personal attractions and comeliness of appearance; but a woman of low education and violent temper.
The answer which she at once returned to Edward's application was remarkable“Well, Edward ! you are a handsome young fellow,
shall have my daughter.” From this time all their wooing passed under the mother's eyes; and, in fine, she became herself enamoured of her future son-in-law, and practised every art, both of endearment and of calumny, to transfer his affections from her daughter to herself. (The outlines of the Tale are positive facts, and of no very distant date, though the author has purposely altered the names and the scene of action, as well as invented the characters of the parties and the detail of the incidents.) Edward, however, though perplexed by her strange detractions from her daughter's good qualities, yet in the innocence of his own heart still mistaking her increasing fondness for motherly affection; she at length, overcome by her miserable passion, after much abuse of Mary's temper and moral tendencies, exclaimed with violent emotion—“O Edward ! indeed, indeed, she is not fit for you-she has not a heart to love you as you deserve. It is I that love you ! Marry me, Edward ! and I will this very day settle all my property on you.” The Lover's eyes were now opened; and thus taken by surprise, whether from the effect of the horror which he felt, acting as it were hysterically on his nervous system, or that at the first moment he lost the sense of the guilt of the proposal in the feeling of its strangeness and absurdity, he flung her from him and burst into a fit of laughter. Irritated by this almost to frenzy, the woman fell on her knees, and in a loud voice that approached to a scream, she prayed for a curse both on him and on her own child. Mary happened to be in the room directly above them, heard Edward's laugh, and her mother's blasphemous prayer, and fainted away. He, hearing the fall, ran up stairs, and taking her in his arms, carried her off to Ellen's home; and after some fruitless attempts on her part toward a reconciliation with her mother, she was married to him. And here the third part of the Tale begins.
I was not led to choose this story from any partiality to tragic, much less to monstrous events (though at the time that I composed the verses, somewhat more than twelve years ago,* I was less averse to such subjects than at present), but from finding in it a striking proof of the possible effect on the imagination, from an idea violently and suddenly impressed on it. I had been reading Bryan
Edwards's account of the effects of the Oby witchcraft on the Negroes in the West Indies, and Hearne's deeply interesting anecdotes of similar workings on the imagination of the Copper Indians (those of my readers who have it in their power will be well repaid for the trouble of referring to those works for the passages alluded to); and I conceived the design of showing that instances of this kind are not peculiar to savage or barbarous tribes, and of illustrating the mode in which the mind is affected in these cases, and the progress and symptoms of the morbid action on the fancy from the beginning.
* i. e. in 1797.—ED.
The Tale is supposed to be narrated by an old Sexton, in a country church-yard, to a traveller whose curiosity had been awakened by the appearance of three graves, close by each other, to two only of which there were grave-stones.
On the first of these was the name, and dates, as usual : on the second, no name, but only a date, and the words, “ The Mercy of God is infinite.”]
THE grapes upon the Vicar's wall
Were ripe as ripe could be ; And yellow leaves in sun and wind
Were falling from the tree.
On the hedge-elms in the narrow lane
Still swung the spikes of corn : Dear Lord ! it seems but yesterday
Young Edward's marriage-morn.
Up through that wood behind the church,
There leads from Edward's door A mossy track, all over bough'd,
For half a mile or more.
And from their house-door by that track
The bride and bridegroom went ; Sweet Mary, though she was not gay,
Seem'd cheerful and content.