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"Stop, stop, John Gilpin! Here's the house," they all at once did
"The dinner waits, and we are tired:" said Gilpin, "So am I!"
But yet his horse was not a whit inclined to tarry there;
Away went Gilpin out of breath, and sore against his will,
Say why bareheaded you are come, or why you come at all!"
Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit, and loved a timely joke;
"I came because your horse would come; and, if I well forebode, My hat and wig will soon be here, they are upon the road.”
The calendrer, right glad to find his friend in merry pin,
A hat not much the worse for wear, each comely in its kind.
He held them up, and in his turn thus showed his ready wit;
Said John, "It is my wedding-day, and all the world would stare, If wife should dine at Edmonton, and I should dine at Ware." So, turning to his horse, he said, "I am in haste to dine; 'Twas for your pleasure you came here, you shall go back for mine."
Ah, luckless speech and bootless boast! for which he paid full dear; For, while he spake, a braying ass did sing most loud and clear; Whereat his horse did snort, as he had heard a lion roar,
And galloped off with all his might, as he had done before.
Now Mistress Gilpin, when she saw her husband posting down Into the country far away, she pulled out half a crown; And thus unto the youth she said, that drove them to the Bell, "This shall be yours when you bring back my husband safe and well."
The youth did ride, and soon did meet John coming back amain;
Away went Gilpin, and away went postboy at his heels,
With postboy scampering in the rear, they raised the hue and cry: "Stop thief! stop thief! a highwayman!” not one of them was
And all and each that passed that way did join in the pursuit.
And now the turnpike gates again flew open in short space;
Now let us sing, Long live the King, and Gilpin, long live he; And when he next doth ride abroad, may I be there to see!
THE NEW YEAR'S NIGHT.
ON new-year's night, an old man stood at his window, and looked, with a glance of fearful despair, up to the immovable, unfading heaven, and down upon the still, pure, white earth, on which no one was now so joyless and sleepless as he. His grave stood near him; it was covered only with the snows of age, not with the verdure of youth; and he brought with him out of a whole, rich life, nothing but errors, sins, and diseases; a wasted body; a desolate soul; a heart full of poison; and an old age full of repentance. The happy days of his early youth passed before him, like a procession of specters, and
brought back to him that lovely morning, when his father first placed him on the cross-way of life, where the right hand led by the sunny paths of virtue, into a large and quiet land, full of light and harvests; and the left plunged by the subterranean walks of vice, into a black cave, full of distilling poison, of hissing snakes, and of dark, sultry vapors.
Alas, the snakes were hanging upon his breast, and the drops of poison on his tongue; and he now, at length, felt all the horror of his situation. Distracted, with unspeakable grief, and with face up-turned to heaven, he cried, “My father! give me back my youth! O, place me once again upon life's cross-way, that I may choose aright." But his father and his youth were long since gone. He saw phantom-lights dancing upon the marshes, and disappearing at the church-yard; and he said, "These are my foolish days!" He saw a star shoot from heaven, and glittering in its fall, vanish upon the earth. "Behold an emblem of my career," said his bleeding heart, and the serpent tooth of repentance digged deeper into his wounds.
His excited imagination showed him specters flying upon the roof, and a skull, which had been left in the charnel-house, gradually assumed his own features. In the midst of this confusion of objects, the music of the new-year flowed down from the steeple, like distant church-melodies. His heart began to melt. He looked around the horizon, and over the wide earth, and thought of the friends of his youth, who now, better and happier than he, were the wise of the earth, prosperous men, and the fathers of happy children; and he said, “Like you, I also might slumber, with tearless eyes, through the long nights, had I chosen aright in the outset of my career. Ah, my father! had I hearkened to thy instructions, I too might have been happy."
In this feverish remembrance of his youthful days, the skull bearing his features, seemed slowly to rise from the door of the charnel-house. At length, by that superstition, which, in the new-year's night, sees the shadow of the future, it became a living youth. He could look no longer; he covered his eyes; a thousand burning tears streamed down, and fell upon the snow. In accents scarcely audible, he sighed disconsolately: "Oh, days of my youth, return, return!" And they did return. It had only been a horrible dream. But, although
he was still a youth, his errors had been a reality. And he thanked God, that he, still young, was able to pause in the degrading course of vice, and return to the sunny path which leads to the land of harvests.
IN one of those sober and rather melancholy days, in the latter part of autumn, when the shadows of morning and evening almost mingle together, and throw a gloom over the decline of the year, I passed several hours in rambling about Westminster Abbey. There was something congenial to the season in the mournful magnificence of the old pile; and, as I passed its threshold, it seemed like stepping back into the region of antiquity, and losing myself among the shades of former ages.
I entered from the inner court of Westminster school, through a long, low, vaulted passage, that had an almost subterranean look, and pursued my walk to an arched door, opening to the interior of the abbey. On entering here, the magnitude of the building breaks fully upon the mind, contrasted with the vaults of the cloisters. The eye gazes with wonder at clustered columns of gigantic dimensions, with arches springing from them to such an amazing hight; and man wandering about their bases, shrinks into insignificance in comparison with his own handwork. It seems as if the awful nature of the place presses down upon the soul, and hushes the beholder into noiseless reverence. We feel that we are surrounded by the congregated bones of the great men of past times, who have filled history with their deeds, and the earth with their renown. And yet it almost provokes a smile at the vanity of human ambition, to see how they are crowded together and jostled in the dust; what parsimony is observed in doling out a scanty nook, a gloomy corner, a little portion of earth to those whom, when alive, kingdoms could not satisfy; and how many shapes, and forms, and artifices are devised to catch the casual notice of the passenger, and save from for
getfulness, for a few short years, a name which once aspired to occupy ages of the world's thought and admiration.
I passed some time in Poet's Corner, which occupies an end of one of the transepts or cross aisles of the Abbey. The monuments are generally simple; for the lives of literary men afford no striking theme for the sculptor. Shakspeare and Addison have statues erected to their memories; but the greater part have busts, medallions, and sometimes mere inscriptions. Notwithstanding the simplicity of these memorials, I have always observed that the visitors to the Abbey remain longest about them. A kinder and fonder feeling takes place of the cold curiosity or vague admiration, with which they gaze on the splendid monuments of the great and heroic. They linger about these as about the tombs of friends and companions; for there is something of companionship between the author and the reader. Well may posterity be grateful to his memory; for he has left it an inheritance, not of empty names and sounding actions, but whole treasures of wisdom, bright gems of thought, and golden veins of language.
I entered that part of the Abbey which contains the sepulchers of the kings. I wandered among what were once chapels, but which are now occupied by the tombs and monuments of the great. At every turn I met with some illustrious name, or the cognizance of some powerful house, renowned in history. As the eye darts into these dusky chambers of death, it catches glimpses of quaint effigies; some kneeling in niches, as if in devotion; others stretched upon tombs, with hands piously pressed together; warriors in armor, as if reposing after battle; prelates, with crosiers and miters; and nobles in robes and coronets, lying as it were in state. In glancing over this scene, so strangely populous, yet where every form is so still and silent, it seems almost as if we were treading a mansion of that fabled city, where every being had been suddenly transmuted into stone.
In the opposite transept to Poet's Corner, stands a monument which is one of the most renowned achievements of modern art; but which, to me, appears horrible, rather than sublime. It is the tomb of Mrs. Nightingale, by Roubillac. The bottom of the monument is represented as throwing open its marble doors, and a sheeted skeleton is starting forth. The