Read Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume XXIV Part 18

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XXI.

THE BALLAD OF MATRIMONY.

“Come, now tell me, Clarabella, How that wondrous thing befell, Why you took that sorry fellow, Leaving me who loved you well?

It was, good faith! a sad miscarriage, And cost me many a pang of pain; Indeed, when I heard of your marriage, I vowed I ne’er would love again.”

“Well, I don’t mind, since you’re pathetic, And so the reason you shall hear: Th’ affair was one of arithmetic– A matter of so much a year.

His father left five thousand good Of pounds per annum, as you know, And you possessed, I understood, Of yearly thousands only two.”

“Well, why did I, who knew of Cupid, Display so much stupid-ity As not to know–the thing was lucid– From Cupid comes Cupid-ity?”

“But not too late,” cried Clarabella: “My husband dear has gone to heaven; He left the five to me, good fellow!

And five and two, you know, make seven.”

I laughed and bowed to Clarabella, And quickly homewards bent my way, And there became a rustic fellow, And donned a suit of hodden-grey.

And then I hired me to a farmer, Concealing every sign of pelf, One Hodge, who had a pretty charmer, Who might love me for myself.

I laid bold siege to fair Lucinda, And tho’ she loved another swain (I had observed them through the window), I was resolved her love to gain Then I would be a lucky fellow, a.s.sured one loved me for my merit, And not, like widowed Clarabella, For the lucre _I_ inherit.

At length I boldly purposed marriage, And found Lucinda at my call, And soon thereafter in my carriage I drove my wife to Border Hall.

Well! she wondered at the mansion, And all the grandeur that was there, The servants bowing all attention To the lady of their squire.

I had a call from Clarabella, Who said my choice was very good; But though her speech was calm and mellow, I thought her in an envious mood.

Indeed I had some small suspicion She had avenged a woman’s grudge, And had conveyed my true condition To the ears of Farmer Hodge.

Sometime thence I met Bill Hedger, Who knew me spite of my changed dress.

“Squoire,” said he, “I think I’d wager There is a something thee doan’t guess; Lucinda’s father knew by letter Thee wert a squoire in low disguise, And she, altho’ _she loiked me better_, Agreed to take the richer prize.”

XXII.

THE SONG OF ROSALIE.

Row on! row on! to flowing Tay, Thou Dighty, who art dear to me; For here upon thy flowery brae I parted last frae Rosalie.

Her hair, so rich in gowden hue, Ilk plait was like a gowden string, Her eyne were like the bonnie blue That shines upon the halcyon’s wing.

There is a worm that loves the bud, And there is one that loves the bloom, And there is one that seeks its food Within the dark and silent tomb.

Thou speckled thrush, with tuneful throat, Who sing’st within yon greenwood dell; Sing on, for every trembling note Brings back the voice I loved so well.

Thou little pansy, raise thy head, And turn thine azure eye to me, And so remind me of the dead, My dearest, long lost Rosalie.

There is a worm that loves the bud, And there is one that loves the bloom, And there is one that seeks its food Within the dark and dreary tomb.

Thou lambkin on yon hillock’s brow, That sportest in thy gamesome mood, Play on! for thou remind’st me now Of one as innocent and good; All emblems dear, for thoughts you bring Of her who loved you all to see, When through the woods in early spring Ilk bird seemed calling “Rosalie.”

But there’s a worm that loves the bud, And there is one that loves the bloom, And there is one that seeks its food Within the dark and dreary tomb.

Far have I roamed for years and years, As from my thoughts I fain would stray; But here once more I weep my tears O’er her now mouldering in the clay.

Oh! would that happy day were come When death shall set my spirit free, And I shall rise to yonder home, And be again with Rosalie,

Where is no worm to gnaw the bud, And none to blight the youthful bloom; Where spirits sing in joyful mood, “Behold our triumph o’er the tomb!”

XXIII.

THE BALLAD OF THE WORLD’S VANITY.

I.

Mournfully maundering, Life’s last moments squandering, Weary, weary, wandering, Through this world of sin, Hermit-shade! I call thee; Lead me to the valley– That mysterious alley, Where I may creep in.

World of strange illusion!

Fancy-born delusion!

Reason-bred confusion!

Phantasmagoria!

Love, where shall I find thee?

Faith, how shall I bind thee?

Truth, who has defined thee?

Changing every day.

Streets of hurry scurry!

Fields of fire and fury!

Homes of wear and worry!

Pa.s.sing quickly by; Pleasure a wild s.n.a.t.c.hing, Dying in the catching, Pain eternal watching With relentless eye.

Sorrow, old Sin’s daughter!

Screams of eldritch laughter!

Burning tears thereafter!

I’ve felt the vanity; Still the hope pursuing, The pursuit ever rueing, Possession still undoing The hope’s fond prophecy.

II.

Sun! I’ve seen thy grandeur, Scenes of gorgeous splendour, Visions pa.s.sing wonder In ocean, sea, and sky; Thunders o’er us pealing, Earthquakes ‘neath us reeling, Fiery comets wheeling Through all immensity.

Virtue! man has crowned thee, For beautiful he found thee; Yet millions have disowned thee, And seek dark Vice’s way, Hypocrisy, deep-hooded, Injustice still obtruded, Stern Cruelty, cold-blooded, Make brother man their prey.

———-

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