Poetry for Children

By Mary Lamb and Charles Lamb

(1808-1809. Text of 1809)

Mary and Charles Lamb page
Sky-shame Envy
The Reaper's Child
The Ride
The Butterfly
The Peach
Chusing a Name
Crumbs to the Birds
The Rook and the Sparrows
Discontent and Quarrelling
Repentance and Reconciliation
Neatness in Apparel
The New-born Infant
Motes in the Sun- beams
The Boy and the Snake
The First Tooth
To a River in which a Child was Drowned
The First of April
The Lame Brother
Going into Breeches
The Text
The End of May
Feigned Courage
The Broken Doll
The Duty of a Brother
Wasps in a Garden
What is Fancy?
The Mimic Harlequin
Written in the First Leaf of a Child's Memorandum Book
The Reproof
The Two Bees
The Journey from School and to School
The Orange
The Young Letter- Writer
The Three Friends
On the Lord's Prayer
"Suffer little Children, and Forbid them not, to come unto Me"
The Magpye's Nest; or, A Lesson of Docility
The Boy and the Sky- lark
The Men and Women, and the Monkeys
Love, Death, and Reputation
The Sparrow and the Hen
Which is the Favourite?
The Beggar-Man
Choosing a Profession
Parental Recollections
The Two Boys
The Offer
The Sister's Expostulation on the Brother's learning Latin
The Brother's Reply
Nurse Green
Good Temper
Moderation in Diet
Incorrect Speaking
My Birthday
The Beasts in the Tower
The Confidant
Thoughtless Cruelty
Penny Pieces
The Rainbow
The Force of Habit
Clock Striking
Why not do it, Sir, To-day?
Home Delights
The Coffee Slips
The Dessert
To a Young Lady, on being too Fond of Music
Time Spent in Dress
The Fairy
Conquest of Prejudice
The Great- Grandfather
The Spartan Boy
Queen Oriana's Dream
On a Picture of the Finding of Moses by Pharaoh's Daughter
David in the Cave of Adullam


This rose-tree is not made to bear
The violet blue, nor lily fair,
Nor the sweet mignionet:
And if this tree were discontent,
Or wish'd to change its natural bent,
It all in vain would fret.

And should it fret, you would suppose
It ne'er had seen its own red rose,
Nor after gentle shower
Had ever smell'd it rose's scent,
Or it could ne'er be discontent
With its own pretty flower.

Like such a blind and senseless tree
As I've imagin'd this to be,
All envious persons are:
With care and culture all may find
Some pretty flower in their own mind,
Some talent that is rare.


If you go to the field where the Reapers now bind
The sheaves of ripe corn, there a fine little lass,
Only three months of age, by the hedge-row you'll find,
Left alone by its mother upon the low grass.

While the mother is reaping, the infant is sleeping;
Not the basket that holds the provision is less
By the hard-working Reaper, than this little sleeper,
Regarded, till hunger does on the babe press.

Then it opens its eyes, and it utters loud cries,
Which its hard-working mother afar off will hear;
She comes at its calling, she quiets its squalling,
And feeds it, and leaves it again without fear.

When you were as young as this field-nursed daughter,
You were fed in the house, and brought up on the knee;
So tenderly watched, thy fond mother thought her
Whole time well bestow'd in nursing of thee.


Lately an Equipage I overtook,
And help'd to lift it o'er a narrow brook.
No horse it had except one boy, who drew
His sister out in it the fields to view.
O happy town-bred girl, in fine chaise going
For the first time to see the green grass growing.
This was the end and purport of the ride
I learn'd, as walking slowly by their side
I heard their conversation. Often she--
"Brother, is this the country that I see?"
The bricks were smoking, and the ground was broke,
There were no signs of verdure when she spoke.
He, as the well-inform'd delight in chiding
The ignorant, these questions still deriding,
To his good judgment modestly she yields;
Till, brick-kilns past, they reach'd the open fields.
Then as with rapt'rous wonder round she gazes
On the green grass, the butter-cups, and daisies,
"This is the country sure enough," she cries;
"Is't not a charming place?" The boy replies,
"We'll go no further." "No," says she, "no need;
No finer place than this can be indeed."
I left them gathering flow'rs, the happiest pair
That ever London sent to breathe the fine fresh air,



Do, my dearest brother John,
Let that Butterfly alone.


What harm now do I do?
You're always making such a noise--


O fie, John; none but naughty boys
Say such rude words as you.


Because you're always speaking sharp:
On the same thing you always harp.
A bird one may not catch,
Nor find a nest, nor angle neither,
Nor from the peacock pluck a feather,
But you are on the watch
To moralise and lecture still.


And ever lecture, John, I will,
When such sad things I hear.
But talk not now of what is past;
The moments fly away too fast,
Though endlessly they seem to last
To that poor soul in fear.


Well, soon (I say) I'll let it loose;
But, sister, you talk like a goose,
There's no soul in a fly.


It has a form and fibres fine,
Were temper'd by the hand divine
Who dwells beyond the sky.
Look, brother, you have hurt its wing--
And plainly by its fluttering
You see it's in distress,
Gay painted Coxcomb, spangled Beau,
A Butterfly is call'd you know,
That's always in full dress:
The finest gentleman of all
Insects he is--he gave a Ball,
You know the Poet wrote.
Let's fancy this the very same,
And then you'll own you've been to blame
To spoil his silken coat.


Your dancing, spangled, powder'd Beau,
Look, through the air I've let him go:
And now we're friends again.
As sure as he is in the air,
From this time, Ann, I will take care,
And try to be humane.

The Peach

Mamma gave us a single Peach,
She shar'd it among seven;
Now you may think that unto each
But a small piece was given.

Yet though each share was very small,
We own'd when it was eaten,
Being so little for us all
Did its fine flavour heighten.

The tear was in our parent's eye,
It seem'd quite out of season;
When we ask'd wherefore she did cry,
She thus explain'd the reason.

"The cause, my children, I may say,
Was joy, and not dejection;
The Peach, which made you all so gay,
Gave rise to this reflection:

"It's many a mother's lot to share,
Seven hungry children viewing,
A morsel of the coarsest fare,
As I this Peach was doing."

Chusing a Name

I have got a new-born sister;
I was nigh the first that kiss'd her.
When the nursing woman brought her
To Papa, his infant daughter,
How Papa's dear eyes did glisten!--
She will shortly be to christen:
And Papa has made the offer,
I shall have the naming of her.

Now I wonder what would please her,
Charlotte, Julia, or Louisa.

Ann and Mary, they're too common;
Joan's too formal for a woman;
Jane's a prettier name beside;
But we had a Jane that died.
They would say, if 'twas Rebecca,
That she was a little Quaker,
Edith's pretty, but that looks
Better in old English books;
Ellen's left off long ago;
Blanche is out of fashion now.
None that I have nam'd as yet
Are so good as Margaret.
Emily is neat and fine.
What do you think of Caroline?
How I'm puzzled and perplext
What to chuse or think of next!
I am in a little fever.
Lest the name that I shall give her
Should disgrace her or defame her
I will leave Papa to name her.

Crumbs to the Birds

A bird appears a thoughtless thing,
He's ever living on the wing,
And keeps up such a carolling,
That little else to do but sing
A man would guess had he.

No doubt he has his little cares,
And very hard he often fares,
The which so patiently he bears,
That, list'ning to those cheerful airs,
Who knows but he may be

In want of his next meal of seeds?
I think for that his sweet song pleads.
If so, his pretty art succeeds.
I'll scatter there among the weeds
All the small crumbs I see.

The Rook and the Sparrows

A little boy with crumbs of bread
Many a hungry sparrow fed.
It was a child of little sense,
Who this kind bounty did dispense;
For suddenly it was withdrawn,
And all the birds were left forlorn,
In a hard time of frost and snow,
Not knowing where for food to go.
He would no longer give them bread,
Because he had observ'd (he said)
That sometimes to the window came
A great blackbird, a rook by name,
And took away a small bird's share.
So foolish Henry did not care
What became of the great rook,
That from the little sparrows took,
Now and then, as 'twere by stealth,
A part of their abundant wealth;
Nor ever more would feed his sparrows.
Thus ignorance a kind heart narrows.
I wish I had been there; I would
Have told the child, rooks live by food
In the same way that sparrows do.
I also would have told him too,
Birds act by instinct, and ne'er can
Attain the rectitude of man.
Nay that even, when distress
Does on poor human nature press,
We need not be too strict in seeing
The failings of a fellow being.

Discontent and Quarrelling


Miss Lydia every day is drest
Better than I am in my best
White cambric-muslin frock.
I wish I had one made of clear
Work'd lawn, or leno very dear.--
And then my heart is broke

Almost to think how cheap my doll
Was bought, when hers cost--yes, cost full
A pound, it did, my brother;
Nor has she had it weeks quite five,
Yet, 'tis as true as I'm alive,
She's soon to have another.


O mother, hear my sister Jane,
How foolishly she does complain,
And teaze herself for nought.
But 'tis the way of all her sex,
Thus foolishly themselves to vex.
Envy's a female fault.


O brother Robert, say not so;
It is not very long ago,
Ah! brother, you've forgot,
When speaking of a boy you knew,
Remember how you said that you
Envied his happy lot.


Let's see, what were the words I spoke?
Why, may be I was half in joke--
May be I just might say--
Besides that was not half so bad;
For Jane, I only said he had
More time than I to play.


O may be, may be, very well:
And may be, brother, I don't tell
Tales to mamma like you.


O cease your wrangling, cease, my dears;
You would not wake a mother's fears
Thus, if you better knew.

Repentance and Reconciliation


Mamma is displeased and looks very grave,
And I own, brother, I was to blame
Just now when I told her I wanted to have,
Like Miss Lydia, a very fine name.
'Twas foolish, for, Robert, Jane sounds very well,
When mamma says, "I love my good Jane."
I've been lately so naughty, I hardly can tell
If she ever will say so again.


We are each of us foolish, and each of us young,
And often in fault and to blame.
Jane, yesterday I was too free with my tongue,
I acknowledge it now to my shame.
For a speech in my good mother's hearing I made,
Which reflected upon her whole sex;
And now like you, Jenny, I am much afraid
That this might my dear mother vex.


But yet, brother Robert, 'twas not quite so bad
As that naughty reflection of mine,
When I grumbled because Liddy Bellenger had
Dolls and dresses expensive and fine.
For then 'twas of her, her own self, I complain'd;
Since mamma does provide all I have.


Your repentance, my children, I see is unfeign'd,
You are now my good Robert, and now my good Jane;
And if you never will be naughty again,
Your fond mother will never look grave.

Neatness in Apparel

In your garb and outward clothing
A reserved plainness use;
By their neatness more distinguish'd
Than the brightness of their hues.

All the colours in the rainbow
Serve to spread the peacock's train;
Half the lustre of his feathers
Would turn twenty coxcombs vain.

Yet the swan that swims in rivers,
Pleases the judicious sight;
Who, of brighter colours heedless,
Trusts alone to simple white.

Yet all other hues, compared
With his whiteness, show amiss;
And the peacock's coat of colours
Like a fool's coat looks by his.

The New-born Infant

Whether beneath sweet beds of roses,
As foolish little Ann supposes,
The spirit of a babe reposes
Before it to the body come;
Or, as philosophy more wise
Thinks, it descendeth from the skies,--
We know the babe's now in the room.

And that is all which is quite clear,
Ev'n to philosophy, my dear.
The God that made us can alone
Reveal from whence a spirit's brought
Into young life, to light, and thought;
And this the wisest man must own.

We'll now talk of the babe's surprise,
When first he opens his new eyes,
And first receives delicious food.
Before the age of six or seven,
To mortal children is not given
Much reason; or I think he would

(And very naturally) wonder
What happy star he was born under,
That he should be the only care
Of the dear sweet-food-giving lady,
Who fondly calls him her own baby,
Her darling hope, her infant heir.

Motes in the Sun-Beams

The motes up and down in the sun
Ever restlessly moving we see;
Whereas the great mountains stand still,
Unless terrible earthquakes there be.

If these atoms that move up and down
Were as useful as restless they are,
Than a mountain I rather would be
A mote in the sun-beam so fair.

The Boy and Snake

Henry was every morning fed
With a full mess of milk and bread.
One day the boy his breakfast took,
And eat it by a purling brook
Which through his mother's orchard ran.
From that time ever when he can
Escape his mother's eye, he there
Takes his food in th' open air.
Finding the child delight to eat
Abroad, and make the grass his seat,
His mother lets him have his way.
With free leave Henry every day
Thither repairs, until she heard
Him talking of a fine grey bird.
This pretty bird, he said, indeed,
Came every day with him to feed,
And it lov'd him, and lov'd his milk,
And it was smooth and soft like silk.
His mother thought she'd go and see
What sort of bird this same might be.
So the next morn she follows Harry,
And carefully she sees him carry
Through the long grass his heap'd-up mess.
What was her terror and distress,
When she saw the infant take
His bread and milk close to a snake!
Upon the grass he spreads his feast,
And sits down by his frightful guest,
Who had waited for the treat;
And now they both begin to eat.
Fond mother! shriek not, O beware
The least small noise, O have a care--
The least small noise that may be made,
The wily snake will be afraid--
If he hear the lightest sound,
He will inflict th' envenom'd wound.
She speaks not, moves not, scarce does breathe,
As she stands the trees beneath;
No sound she utters; and she soon
Sees the child lift up its spoon,
And tap the snake upon the head,
Fearless of harm; and then he said,
As speaking to familiar mate,
"Keep on your own side, do, Grey Pate:"
The snake then to the other side,
As one rebuked, seems to glide;
And now again advancing nigh,
Again she hears the infant cry,
Tapping the snake, "Keep further, do;
Mind, Grey Pate, what I say to you."
The danger's o'er--she sees the boy
(O what a change from fear to joy!)
Rise and bid the snake "good-bye;"
Says he, "Our breakfast's done, and I
Will come again to-morrow day:"
Then, lightly tripping, ran away.

The First Tooth


Through the house what busy joy,
Just because the infant boy
Has a tiny tooth to show.
I have got a double row,
All as white, and all as small;
Yet no one cares for mine at all.
He can say but half a word,
Yet that single sound's preferr'd
To all the words that I can say
In the longest summer day.
He cannot walk, yet if he put
With mimic motion out his foot,
As if he thought, he were advancing,
It's prized more than my best dancing.


Sister, I know, you jesting are,
Yet O! of jealousy beware.
If the smallest seed should be
In your mind of jealousy,
It will spring, and it will shoot,
Till it bear the baneful fruit.
I remember you, my dear,
Young as is this infant here.
There was not a tooth of those
Your pretty even ivory rows,
But as anxiously was watched,
Till it burst its shell new hatched,
As if it a Phoenix were,
Or some other wonder rare.
So when you began to walk--
So when you began to talk--
As now, the same encomiums past.
'Tis not fitting this should last
Longer than our infant days;
A child is fed with milk and praise.

To a River in which a Child was Drowned

(Text of 1818)

Smiling river, smiling river,
On thy bosom sun-beams play;
Though they're fleeting and retreating,
Thou hast more deceit than they.

In thy channel, in thy channel,
Choak'd with ooze and grav'lly stones,
Deep immersed and unhearsed,
Lies young Edward's corse: his bones

Ever whitening, ever whitening,
As thy waves against them dash;
What thy torrent, in the current,
Swallow'd, now it helps to wash.

As if senseless, as if senseless
Things had feeling in this case;
What so blindly, and unkindly,
It destroy'd, it now does grace.

The First of April

"Tell me what is the reason you hang down your head;
From your blushes I plainly discern,
You have done something wrong. Ere you go up to bed,
I desire that the truth I may learn."

"O mamma, I have long'd to confess all the day
What an ill-natured thing I have done;
I persuaded myself it was only in play,
But such play I in future will shun.

"The least of the ladies that live at the school,
Her whose eyes are so pretty and blue,
Ah! would you believe it? an April fool
I have made her, and call'd her so too.

"Yet the words almost choak'd me; and, as I spoke low,
I have hopes that she might them not hear.
I had wrapt up some rubbish in paper, and so,
The instant the school-girls drew near,

"I presented it with a fine bow to the child,
And much her acceptance I press'd;
When she took it, and thank'd me, and gratefully smil'd,
I never felt half so distress'd.

"No doubt she concluded some sweetmeats were there,
For the paper was white and quite clean,
And folded up neatly, as if with great care.
O what a rude boy I have been!

"Ever since I've been thinking how vex'd she will be,
Ever since I've done nothing but grieve.
If a thousand young ladies a walking I see,
I will never another deceive."


Come my little Robert near--
Fie! what filthy hands are here--
Who that e'er could understand
The rare structure of a hand,
With its branching fingers fine,
Work itself of hands divine,
Strong, yet delicately knit,
For ten thousand uses fit,
Overlaid with so clear skin
You may see the blood within,
And the curious palm, disposed
In such lines, some have supposed
You may read the fortunes there
By the figures that appear--
Who this hand would chuse to cover
With a crust of dirt all over,
Till it look'd in hue and shape
Like the fore-foot of an Ape?
Man or boy that works or plays
In the fields or the highways
May, without offence or hurt,
From the soil contract a dirt,
Which the next clear spring or river
Washes out and out for ever--
But to cherish stains impure,
Soil deliberate to endure,
On the skin to fix a stain
Till it works into the grain,
Argues a degenerate mind,
Sordid, slothful, ill inclin'd,
Wanting in that self-respect
Which does virtue best protect.

All-endearing Cleanliness,
Virtue next to Godliness,
Easiest, cheapest, needful'st duty,
To the body health and beauty,
Who that's human would refuse it,
When a little water does it?

The Lame Brother

My parents sleep both in one grave;
My only friend's a brother.
The dearest things upon the earth
We are to one another.

A fine stout boy I knew him once,
With active form and limb;
Whene'er he leap'd, or jump'd, or ran,
O I was proud of him!

He leap'd too far, he got a hurt,
He now does limping go.--
When I think on his active days,
My heart is full of woe.

He leans on me, when we to school
Do every morning walk;
I cheer him on his weary way,
He loves to hear my talk:

The theme of which is mostly this,
What things he once could do.
He listens pleas'd--then sadly says,
"Sister, I lean on you."

Then I reply, "Indeed you're not
Scarce any weight at all.--
And let us now still younger years
To memory recall.

"Led by your little elder hand,
I learn'd to walk alone;
Careful you us'd to be of me,
My little brother John.

"How often, when my young feet tir'd,
You've carried me a mile!--
And still together we can sit,
And rest a little while.

"For our kind master never minds,
If we're the very last;
He bids us never tire ourselves
With walking on too fast."

Going into Breeches

Joy to Philip, he this day
Has his long coats cast away,
And (the childish season gone)
Puts the manly breeches on.
Officer on gay parade,
Red-coat in his first cockade,
Bridegroom in his wedding trim,
Birthday beau surpassing him,
Never did with conscious gait
Strut about in half the state,
Or the pride (yet free from sin)
Of my little MANIKIN:
Never was there pride, or bliss,
Half so rational as his.
Sashes, frocks, to those that need 'em--
Philip's limbs have got their freedom--
He can run, or he can ride,
And do twenty things beside,
Which his petticoats forbad:
Is he not a happy lad?
Now he's under other banners,
He must leave his former manners;
Bid adieu to female games,
And forget their very names,
Puss in Corners, Hide and Seek,
Sports for girls and punies weak!
Baste the Bear he now may play at,
Leap-frog, Foot-ball, sport away at,
Show his skill and strength at Cricket,
Mark his distance, pitch his wicket,
Run about in winter's snow
Till his cheeks and fingers glow,
Climb a tree, or scale a wall,
Without any fear to fall.
If he get a hurt or bruise,
To complain he must refuse,
Though the anguish and the smart
Go unto his little heart,
He must have his courage ready,
Keep his voice and visage steady,
Brace his eye-balls stiff as drum,
That a tear may never come,
And his grief must only speak
From the colour in his cheek.
This and more he must endure,
Hero he in miniature!
This and more must now be done
Now the breeches are put on.


O hush, my little baby brother;
Sleep, my love, upon my knee.
What though, dear child, we've lost our mother;
That can never trouble thee.

You are but ten weeks old to-morrow;
What can you know of our loss?
The house is full enough of sorrow.
Little baby, don't be cross.

Peace, cry not so, my dearest love;
Hush, my baby-bird, lie still.--
He's quiet now, he does not move,
Fast asleep is little Will.

My only solace, only joy,
Since the sad day I lost my mother,
Is nursing her own Willy boy,
My little orphan brother.

The Text

One Sunday eve a grave old man,
Who had not been at church, did say,
"Eliza, tell me, if you can,
What text our Doctor took to-day?"

She hung her head, she blush'd for shame,
One single word she did not know,
Nor verse nor chapter she could name,
Her silent blushes told him so.

Again said he, "My little maid,
What in the sermon did you hear;
Come tell me that, for that may aid
Me to find out the text, my dear."

A tear stole down each blushing cheek,
She wish'd she better had attended;
She sobbing said, when she could speak,
She heard not till 'twas almost ended.

"Ah! little heedless one, why what
Could you be thinking on? 'tis clear
Some foolish fancies must have got
Possession of your head, my dear.

"What thoughts were they, Eliza, tell,
Nor seek from me the truth to smother."--
"O I remember very well,
I whisper'd something to my brother.

"I said, 'Be friends with me, dear Will;'
We quarrell'd, Sir, at the church door,--
Though he cried, 'Hush, don't speak, be still,'
Yet I repeated these words o'er

"Sev'n or eight times, I have no doubt.
But here comes William, and if he
The good things he has heard about
Forgets too, Sir, the fault's in me."

"No, Sir," said William, "though perplext
And much disturbed by my sister,
I in this matter of the text,
I thank my memory, can assist her.

"I have, and pride myself on having,
A more retentive head than she."--
Then gracefully his right hand waving,
He with no little vanity

Recited gospel, chapter, verse--
I should be loth to spoil in metre
All the good words he did rehearse,
As spoken by our Lord to Peter.

But surely never words from heaven
Of peace and love more full descended;
That we should seventy times seven
Forgive our brother that offended.

In every point of view he plac'd it,
As he the Doctor's self had been,
With emphasis and action grac'd it:
But from his self-conceit 'twas seen

Who had brought home the words, and who had
A little on the meaning thought;
Eliza now the old man knew had
Learn'd that which William never caught.

Without impeaching William's merit,
His head but served him for the letter,
Hers miss'd the words, but kept the spirit;
Her memory to her heart was debtor.

The End of May

"Our Governess is not in school,
So we may talk a bit;
Sit down upon this little stool,
Come, little Mary, sit:

"And, my dear play-mate, tell me why
In dismal black you're drest?
Why does the tear stand in your eye?
With sobs why heaves your breast?

"When we're in grief, it gives relief
Our sorrows to impart;
When you've told why, my dear, you cry,
'Twill ease your little heart."

"O, it is trouble very bad
Which causes me to weep;
All last night long we were so sad,
Not one of us could sleep.

"Beyond the seas my father went,
'Twas very long ago;
And he last week a letter sent
(I told you so, you know)

"That he was safe in Portsmouth bay,
And we should see him soon,
Either the latter end of May,
Or by the first of June.

"The end of May was yesterday,
We all expected him;
And in our best clothes we were drest,
Susan, and I, and Jim.

"O how my poor dear mother smil'd,
And clapt her hands for joy;
She said to me, 'Come here, my child,
And Susan, and my boy.

"'Come all, and let us think,' said she,
'What we can do to please
Your father, for to-day will he
Come home from off the seas.

"'That you have won, my dear young son,
A prize at school, we'll tell,
Because you can, my little man,
In writing all excel;

"'And you have made a poem, nearly
All of your own invention:
Will not your father love you dearly,
When this to him I mention?

"'Your sister Mary, she can say
Your poetry by heart;
And to repeat your verses may
Be little Mary's part,

"'Susan, for you, I'll say you do
Your needlework with care,
And stitch so true the wristbands new,
Dear father's soon to wear!'

"'O hark!' said James; 'I hear one speak;
'Tis like a seaman's voice.'--
Our mother gave a joyful shriek;
How did we all rejoice!

"'My husband's come!' 'My father's here!
But O, alas, it was not so;
It was not as we said:
A stranger seaman did appear,
On his rough cheek there stood a tear,
For he brought to us a tale of woe,
Our father dear was dead."

Feigned Courage

Horatio, of ideal courage vain,
Was flourishing in air his father's cane,
And, as the fumes of valour swell'd his pate,
Now thought himself this Hero, and now that:
"And now," he cried, "I will Achilles be;
My sword I brandish; see, the Trojans flee.
Now I'll be Hector, when his angry blade
A lane through heaps of slaughter'd Grecians made!
And now by deeds still braver I'll evince,
I am no less than Edward the Black Prince.--
Give way, ye coward French:--" as thus he spoke,
And aim'd in fancy a sufficient stroke
To fix the fate of Cressy or Poictiers;
(The Muse relates the Hero's fate with tears)
He struck his milk-white hand against a nail,
Sees his own blood, and feels his courage fail.
Ah! where is now that boasted valour flown,
That in the tented field so late was shown!
Achilles weeps, Great Hector hangs the head,
And the Black Prince goes whimpering to bed.

The Broken Doll

An infant is a selfish sprite;
But what of that? the sweet delight
Which from participation springs,
Is quite unknown to these young things.
We elder children then will smile
At our dear little John awhile,
And bear with him, until he see
There is a sweet felicity
In pleasing more than only one
Dear little craving selfish John.

He laughs, and thinks it a fine joke,
That he our new wax doll has broke.
Anger will never teach him better;
We will the spirit and the letter
Of courtesy to him display,
By taking in a friendly way
These baby frolics, till he learn
True sport from mischief to discern.

Reproof a parent's province is;
A sister's discipline is this,
By studied kindness to effect
A little brother's young respect.
What is a doll? a fragile toy.
What is its loss? if the dear boy,
Who half perceives he's done amiss,
Retain impression of the kiss
That follow'd instant on his cheek;
If the kind loving words we speak
Of "Never mind it," "We forgive,"
If these in his short memory live
Only perchance for half a day--
Who minds a doll--if that should lay
The first impression in his mind
That sisters are to brothers kind?
For thus the broken doll may prove
Foundation to fraternal love.

The Duty of a Brother

Why on your sister do you look,
Octavius, with an eye of scorn,
As scarce her presence you could brook?--
Under one roof you both were born.

Why, when she gently proffers speech,
Do you ungently turn your head?
Since the same sire gave life to each;
With the same milk ye both were fed.

Such treatment to a female, though
A perfect stranger she might be,
From you would most unmanly show;
In you to her 'tis worse to see.

When any ill-bred boys offend her,
Showing their manhood by their sneers,
It is your business to defend her
'Gainst their united taunts and jeers.

And not to join the illiberal crew
In their contempt of female merit;
What's bad enough in them, from you
Is want of goodness, want of spirit.

What if your rougher out-door sports
Her less robustious spirits daunt;
And if she join not the resorts,
Where you and your wild playmates haunt:

Her milder province is at home;
When your diversions have an end,
When over-toil'd from play you come,
You'll find in her an in-doors friend.

Leave not your sister to another;
As long as both of you reside
In the same house, who but her brother
Should point her books, her studies guide?

If Nature, who allots our cup,
Than her has made you stronger, wiser;
It is that you, as you grow up,
Should be her champion, her adviser.

It is the law that Hand intends,
Which fram'd diversity of sex;
The man the woman still defends,
The manly boy the girl protects.

Wasps in a Garden

The wall-trees are laden with fruit;
The grape, and the plum, and the pear,
The peach, and the nect'rine, to suit
Ev'ry taste in abundance, are there.

Yet all are not welcome to taste
These kind bounties of nature; for one
From her open-spread table must haste,
To make room for a more favour'd son:

As that wasp will soon sadly perceive,
Who has feasted awhile on a plum;
And, his thirst thinking now to relieve,
For a sweet liquid draught he is come.

He peeps in the narrow-mouth'd glass,
Which depends from a branch of the tree;
He ventures to creep down,--alas!
To be drown'd in that delicate sea.

"Ah say," my dear friend, "is it right,
These glass bottles are hung upon trees:
'Midst a scene of inviting delight,
Should we find such mementoes as these?"

"From such sights," said my friend, "we may draw
A lesson, for look at that bee;
Compar'd with the wasp which you saw,
He will teach us what we ought to be.

"He in safety industriously plies
His sweet honest work all the day,
Then home with his earnings he flies;
Nor in thieving his time wastes away."--

"O hush, nor with fables deceive,"
I replied; "which, though pretty, can ne'er
Make me cease for that insect to grieve,
Who in agony still does appear.

"If a simile ever you need,
You are welcome to make a wasp do;
But you ne'er should mix fiction indeed
With things that are serious and true."

What is Fancy?


I am to write three lines, and you
Three others that will rhyme.
There--now I've done my task.


Three stupid lines as e'er I knew.
When you've the pen next time,
Some Question of me ask.


Then tell me, brother, and pray mind,
Brother, you tell me true:
What sort of thing is fancy?


By all that I can ever find,
'Tis something that is very new,
And what no dunces can see.


That is not half the way to tell
What fancy is about;
So pray now tell me more.


Sister, I think 'twere quite as well
That you should find it out;
So think the matter o'er.


It's what comes in our heads when we
Play at "Let's make believe,"
And when we play at "Guessing."


And I have heard it said to be
A talent often makes us grieve,
And sometimes proves a blessing.


Anger in its time and place
May assume a kind of grace.
It must have some reason in it,
And not last beyond a minute.
If to further lengths it go,
It does into malice grow.
'Tis the difference that we see
'Twixt the Serpent and the Bee.
If the latter you provoke,
It inflicts a hasty stroke,
Puts you to some little pain,
But it never stings again.
Close in tufted bush or brake
Lurks the poison-swelled snake,
Nursing up his cherish'd wrath.
In the purlieus of his path,
In the cold, or in the warm,
Mean him good, or mean him harm,
Whensoever fate may bring you,
The vile snake will always sting you.


In a stage-coach, where late I chanc'd to be,
A little quiet girl my notice caught;
I saw she look'd at nothing by the way,
Her mind seem'd busy on some childish thought.

I with an old man's courtesy address'd
The child, and call'd her pretty dark-eyed maid
And bid her turn those pretty eyes and see
The wide extended prospect. "Sir," she said,

"I cannot see the prospect, I am blind."
Never did tongue of child utter a sound
So mournful, as her words fell on my ear.
Her mother then related how she found

Her child was sightless. On a fine bright day
She saw her lay her needlework aside,
And, as on such occasions mothers will,
For leaving off her work began to chide.

"I'll do it when 'tis day-light, if you please;
I cannot work, Mamma, now it is night."
The sun shone bright upon her when she spoke,
And yet her eyes receiv'd no ray of light.

The Mimic Harlequin

"I'll make believe, and fancy something strange:
I will suppose I have the power to change
And make all things unlike to what they were,
To jump through windows and fly through the air,
And quite confound all places and all times,
Like Harlequins we see in Pantomimes.
These thread-papers my wooden sword must be,
Nothing more like one I at present see.
And now all round this drawing-room I'll range
And every thing I look at I will change.
Here's Mopsa, our old cat, shall be a bird;
To a Poll Parrot she is now transferr'd.
Here's Mamma's work-bag, now I will engage
To whisk this little bag into a cage;
And now, my pretty Parrot, get you in it,
Another change I'll shew you in a minute."

"O fie, you naughty child, what have you done?
There never was so mischievous a son.
You've put the cat among my work, and torn
A fine lac'd cap that I but once have worn."

Written in the First Leaf of a Child's Memorandum-Book

My neat and pretty book, when I thy small lines see,
They seem for any use to be unfit for me.
My writing, all misshaped, uneven as my mind,
Within this narrow space can hardly be confin'd.
Yet I will strive to make my hand less aukward look;
I would not willingly disgrace thee, my neat book!
The finest pens I'll use, and wond'rous pains I'll take,
And I these perfect lines my monitors will make.
And every day I will set down in order due,
How that day wasted is; and should there be a few
At the year's end that shew more goodly to the sight,
If haply here I find some days not wasted quite,
If a small portion of them I have pass'd aright,
Then shall I think the year not wholly was misspent,
And that my Diary has been by some good Angel sent.


"For gold could Memory be bought,
What treasures would she not be worth!
If from afar she could be brought,
I'd travel for her through the earth!"

This exclamation once was made
By one who had obtain'd the name
Of young forgetful Adelaide:
And while she spoke, lo! Memory came.

If Memory indeed it were,
Or such it only feign'd to be--
A female figure came to her,
Who said, "My name is Memory:

"Gold purchases in me no share,
Nor do I dwell in distant land;
Study, and thought, and watchful care,
In every place may me command.

"I am not lightly to be won;
A visit only now I make:
And much must by yourself be done,
Ere me you for an inmate take.

"The only substitute for me
Was ever found, is call'd a pen:
The frequent use of that will be
The way to make me come again."

The Reproof

Mamma heard me with scorn and pride
A wretched beggar boy deride.
"Do you not know," said I, "how mean
It is to be thus begging seen?
If for a week I were not fed,
I'm sure I would not beg my bread."
And then away she saw me stalk
With a most self-important walk.
But meeting her upon the stairs,
All these my consequential airs
Were chang'd to an entreating look.
"Give me," said I, "the Pocket Book,
Mamma, you promis'd I should have."
The Pocket Book to me she gave;
After reproof and counsel sage,
She bade me write in the first page
This naughty action all in rhyme;
No food to have until the time,
In writing fair and neatly worded,
The unfeeling fact I had recorded.
Slow I compose, and slow I write;
And now I feel keen hunger bite.
My mother's pardon I entreat,
And beg she'll give me food to eat.
Dry bread would be received with joy
By her repentant Beggar Boy.

The Two Bees

But a few words could William say,
And those few could not speak plain.
Yet thought he was a man one day;
Never saw I a boy so vain.

From what could vanity proceed
In such a little lisping lad?
Or was it vanity indeed?
Or was he only very glad?

For he without his maid may go
To the heath with elder boys,
And pluck ripe berries where they grow:
Well may William then rejoice.

Be careful of your little charge;
Elder boys, let him not rove;
The heath is wide, the heath is large,
From your sight he must not move.

But rove he did: they had not been
One short hour the heath upon,
When he was no where to be seen;
"Where," said they, "is William gone?"

Mind not the elder boys' distress;
Let them run, and let them fly.
Their own neglect and giddiness
They are justly suffering by.

William his little basket fill'd
With his berries ripe and red;
Then, naughty boy, two bees he kill'd,
Under foot he stamp'd them dead.

William had cours'd them o'er the heath,
After them his steps did wander;
When he was nearly out of breath,
The last bee his foot was under.

A cruel triumph, which did not
Last but for a moment's space,
For now he finds that he has got
Out of sight of every face.

What are the berries now to him?
What the bees which he hath slain?
Fear now possesses every limb,
He cannot trace his steps again.

The poor bees William had affrighted
In more terror did not haste,
Than he from bush to bush, benighted
And alone amid the waste.

Late in the night the child was found:
He who these two bees had crush'd
Was lying on the cold damp ground,
Sleep had then his sorrows hush'd.

A fever follow'd from the fright,
And from sleeping in the dew;
He many a day and many a night
Suffer'd ere he better grew.

His aching limbs while sick he lay
Made him learn the crush'd bees' pain;
Oft would he to his mother say,
"I ne'er will kill a bee again."

The Journey from School and to School

O what a joyous joyous day
Is that on which we come
At the recess from school away,
Each lad to his own home!

What though the coach is crammed full,
The weather very warm;
Think you a boy of us is dull,
Or feels the slightest harm?

The dust and sun is life and fun;
The hot and sultry weather
A higher zest gives every breast,
Thus jumbled all together.

Sometimes we laugh aloud aloud,
Sometimes huzzah, huzzah.
Who is so buoyant, free, and proud,
As we home-travellers are?

But sad, but sad is every lad
That day on which we come,
That last last day on which away
We all come from our home.

The coach too full is found to be:
Why is it crammed thus?
Now every one can plainly see
There's not half room for us.

Soon we exclaim, O shame, O shame,
This hot and sultry weather,
Who but our master is to blame,
Who pack'd us thus together!

Now dust and sun does every one
Most terribly annoy;
Complaints begun, soon every one
Elbows his neighbour boy.

Not now the joyous laugh goes round,
We shout not now huzzah;
A sadder group may not be found
Than we returning are.

The Orange

The month was June, the day was hot,
And Philip had an orange got.
The fruit was fragrant, tempting, bright,
Refreshing to the smell and sight;
Not of that puny size which calls
Poor customers to common stalls,
But large and massy, full of juice,
As any Lima can produce.
The liquor would, if squeezed out,
Have fill'd a tumbler thereabout--

The happy boy, with greedy eyes,
Surveys and re-surveys his prize.
He turns it round, and longs to drain,
And with the juice his lips to stain.
His throat and lips were parch'd with heat;
The orange seem'd to cry, Come eat.
He from his pocket draws a knife--
When in his thoughts there rose a strife,
Which folks experience when they wish,
Yet scruple to begin a dish,
And by their hesitation own
It is too good to eat alone.
But appetite o'er indecision
Prevails, and Philip makes incision.
The melting fruit in quarters came--
Just then there passed by a dame--
One of the poorer sort she seem'd,
As by her garb you would have deem'd--
Who in her toil-worn arms did hold
A sickly infant ten months old;
That from a fever, caught in spring,
Was slowly then recovering.
The child, attracted by the view
Of that fair orange, feebly threw
A languid look--perhaps the smell
Convinc'd it that there sure must dwell
A corresponding sweetness there,
Where lodg'd a scent so good and rare--
Perhaps the smell the fruit did give
Felt healing and restorative--
For never had the child been grac'd
To know such dainties by their taste.

When Philip saw the infant crave,
He straitway to the mother gave
His quarter'd orange; nor would stay
To hear her thanks, but tript away.
Then to the next clear spring he ran
To quench his drought, a happy man!

The Young Letter-Writer

Dear Sir, Dear Madam, or Dear Friend,
With ease are written at the top;
When those two happy words are penn'd,
A youthful writer oft will stop,

And bite his pen, and lift his eyes,
As if he thinks to find in air
The wish'd-for following words, or tries
To fix his thoughts by fixed stare.

But haply all in vain--the next
Two words may be so long before
They'll come, the writer, sore perplext,
Gives in despair the matter o'er;

And when maturer age he sees
With ready pen so swift inditing,
With envy he beholds the ease
Of long-accustom'd letter-writing.

Courage, young friend; the time may be,
When you attain maturer age,
Some young as you are now may see
You with like ease glide down a page.

Ev'n then when you, to years a debtor,
In varied phrase your meanings wrap,
The welcom'st words in all your letter
May be those two kind words at top.

The Three Friends

(Text of 1818)

Three young maids in friendship met;
Mary, Martha, Margaret.
Margaret was tall and fair,
Martha shorter by a hair;
If the first excell'd in feature,
Th' other's grace and ease were greater;
Mary, though to rival loth,
In their best gifts equall'd both.
They a due proportion kept;
Martha mourn'd if Margaret wept;
Margaret joy'd when any good
She of Martha understood;
And in sympathy for either
Mary was outdone by neither.
Thus far, for a happy space,
All three ran an even race,
A most constant friendship proving,
Equally belov'd and loving;
All their wishes, joys, the same;
Sisters only not in name.

Fortune upon each one smil'd,
As upon a fav'rite child;
Well to do and well to see
Were the parents of all three;
Till on Martha's father crosses
Brought a flood of worldly losses,
And his fortunes rich and great
Chang'd at once to low estate;
Under which o'erwhelming blow
Martha's mother was laid low;
She a hapless orphan left,
Of maternal care bereft,
Trouble following trouble fast,
Lay in a sick bed at last.

In the depth of her affliction
Martha now receiv'd conviction,
That a true and faithful friend
Can the surest comfort lend.
Night and day, with friendship tried,
Ever constant by her side
Was her gentle Mary found,
With a love that knew no bound;
And the solace she imparted
Sav'd her dying' broken-hearted.

In this scene of earthly things
Not one good unmixed springs.
That which had to Martha proved
A sweet consolation, moved
Different feelings of regret
In the mind of Margaret.
She, whose love was not less dear,
Nor affection less sincere
To her friend, was, by occasion
Of more distant habitation,
Fewer visits forc'd to pay her,
When no other cause did stay her;
And her Mary living nearer,
Margaret began to fear her,
Lest her visits day by day
Martha's heart should steal away.
That whole heart she ill could spare her,
Where till now she'd been a sharer.
From this cause with grief she pined,
Till at length her health declined.
All her chearful spirits flew,
Fast as Martha gather'd new;
And her sickness waxed sore,
Just when Martha felt no more.

Mary, who had quick suspicion
Of her alter'd friend's condition,
Seeing Martha's convalescence
Less demanded now her presence,
With a goodness, built on reason,
Chang'd her measures with the season;
Turn'd her steps from Martha's door,
Went where she was wanted more;
All her care and thoughts were set
Now to tend on Margaret.
Mary living 'twixt the two,
From her home could oft'ner go,
Either of her friends to see,
Than they could together be.

Truth explain'd is to suspicion
Evermore the best physician.
Soon her visits had the effect;
All that Margaret did suspect,
From her fancy vanish'd clean;
She was soon what she had been,
And the colour she did lack
To her faded cheek came back.
Wounds which love had made her feel,
Love alone had power to heal.

Martha, who the frequent visit
Now had lost, and sore did miss it,
With impatience waxed cross,
Counted Margaret's gain her loss:
All that Mary did confer
On her friend, thought due to her.
In her girlish bosom rise
Little foolish jealousies,
Which into such rancour wrought,
She one day for Margaret sought;
Finding her by chance alone,
She began, with reasons shown,
To insinuate a fear
Whether Mary was sincere;
Wish'd that Margaret would take heed
Whence her actions did proceed.
For herself, she'd long been minded
Not with outsides to be blinded;
All that pity and compassion,
She believ'd was affectation;
In her heart she doubted whether
Mary car'd a pin for either.
She could keep whole weeks at distance,
And not know of their existence,
While all things remain'd the same;
But, when some misfortune came,
Then she made a great parade
Of her sympathy and aid,--
Not that she did really grieve,
It was only make-believe,
And she car'd for nothing, so
She might her fine feelings shew,
And get credit, on her part,
For a soft and tender heart.

With such speeches, smoothly made,
She found methods to persuade
Margaret (who, being sore
From the doubts she'd felt before,
Was prepared for mistrust)
To believe her reasons just;
Quite destroy'd that comfort glad,
Which in Mary late she had;
Made her, in experience' spite,
Think her friend a hypocrite,
And resolve, with cruel scoff,
To renounce and cast her off.

See how good turns are rewarded!
She of both is now discarded,
Who to both had been so late
Their support in low estate,
All their comfort, and their stay--
Now of both is cast away.
But the league her presence cherish'd,
Losing its best prop, soon perish'd;
She, that was a link to either,
To keep them and it together,
Being gone, the two (no wonder)
That were left, soon fell asunder;--
Some civilities were kept,
But the heart of friendship slept;
Love with hollow forms was fed,
But the life of love lay dead:--
A cold intercourse they held
After Mary was expell'd.

Two long years did intervene
Since they'd either of them seen,
Or, by letter, any word
Of their old companion heard,--
When, upon a day, once walking,
Of indifferent matters talking,
They a female figure met;--
Martha said to Margaret,
"That young maid in face does carry
A resemblance strong of Mary."
Margaret, at nearer sight,
Own'd her observation right:
But they did not far proceed
Ere they knew 'twas she indeed.
She--but ah! how chang'd they view her
From that person which they knew her!
Her fine face disease had scarr'd,
And its matchless beauty marr'd:--
But enough was left to trace
Mary's sweetness--Mary's grace.
When her eye did first behold them,
How they blush'd!--but, when she told them
How on a sick bed she lay
Months, while they had kept away,
And had no inquiries made
If she were alive or dead;--
How, for want of a true friend,
She was brought near to her end,
And was like so to have died,
With no friend at her bed-side;--
How the constant irritation,
Caus'd by fruitless expectation
Of their coming, had extended
The illness, when she might have mended,--
Then, O then, how did reflection
Come on them with recollection!
All that she had done for them,
How it did their fault condemn!

But sweet Mary, still the same,
Kindly eas'd them of their shame;
Spoke to them with accents bland,
Took them friendly by the hand;
Bound them both with promise fast,
Not to speak of troubles past;
Made them on the spot declare
A new league of friendship there;
Which, without a word of strife,
Lasted thenceforth long as life.
Martha now and Margaret
Strove who most should pay the debt
Which they ow'd her, nor did vary
Ever after from their Mary.

On the Lord's Prayer

I have taught your young lips the good words to say over,
Which form the petition we call the Lord's Pray'r,
And now let me help my dear child to discover
The meaning of all the good words that are there.
"Our Father," the same appellation is given
To a parent on earth, and the parent of all--
O gracious permission, the God that's in heaven
Allows his poor creatures him Father to call.

To "hallow his name," is to think with devotion
Of it, and with reverence mention the same;
Though you are so young, you should strive for some notion
Of the awe we should feel at the Holy One's name.

His "will done on earth, as it is done in heaven,"
Is a wish and a hope we are suffer'd to breathe,
That such grace and favour to us may be given,
Like good angels on high we may live here beneath.

"Our daily bread give us," your young apprehension
May well understand is to pray for our food;
Although we ask bread, and no other thing mention,
God's bounty gives all things sufficient and good.

You pray that your "trespasses may be forgiven,
As you forgive those that are done unto you;"
Before this you say to the God that's in heaven,
Consider the words which you speak. Are they true?

If any one has in the past time offended
Us angry creatures who soon take offence,
These words in the prayer are surely intended
To soften our minds, and expel wrath from thence.

We pray that "temptations may never assail us,"
And "deliverance beg from all evil" we find;
But we never can hope that our pray'r will avail us,
If we strive not to banish ill thoughts from our mind.

"For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
For ever and ever," these titles are meant
To express God's dominion and majesty o'er ye:
And "Amen" to the sense of the whole gives assent.

"Suffer Little Children, and Forbid them Not, to Come unto Me"

To Jesus our Saviour some parents presented
Their children--what fears and what hopes they must feel!
When this the disciples would fain have prevented,
Our Saviour reprov'd their unseas'nable zeal.

Not only free leave to come to him was given,
But "Of such" were the blessed words Christ our Lord spake,
"Of such is composed the kingdom of heaven:"
The disciples, abashed, perceiv'd their mistake.

With joy then the parents their children brought nigher,
And earnestly begg'd that his hands he would lay
On their heads; and they made a petition still higher,
That he for a blessing upon them would pray.

O happy young children, thus brought to adore him,
To kneel at his feet, and look up in his face;
No doubt now in heaven they still are before him,
Children still of his love, and enjoying his grace.

For being so blest as to come to our Saviour,
How deep in their innocent hearts it must sink!
'Twas a visit divine; a most holy behaviour
Must flow from that spring of which then they did drink.

The Magpye's Nest or a Lesson of Docility


When the arts in their infancy were,
In a fable of old 'tis exprest,
A wise Magpye constructed that rare
Little house for young birds, call'd a nest.

This was talk'd of the whole country round,
You might hear it on every bough sung,
"Now no longer upon the rough ground
Will fond mothers brood over their young.

"For the Magpye with exquisite skill
Has invented a moss-cover'd cell,
Within which a whole family will
In the utmost security dwell."

To her mate did each female bird say,
"Let us fly to the Magpye, my dear;
If she will but teach us the way,
A nest we will build us up here.

"It's a thing that's close arch'd over head,
With a hole made to creep out and in;
We, my bird, might make just such a bed,
If we only knew how to begin."

To the Magpye soon every bird went,
And in modest terms made their request,
That she would be pleas'd to consent
To teach them to build up a nest.

She replied, "I will shew you the way,
So observe every thing that I do.
First two sticks cross each other I lay--"
"To be sure," said the Crow; "why, I knew,

"It must be begun with two sticks,
And I thought that they crossed should be."
Said the Pye, "Then some straw and moss mix,
In the way you now see done by me."

"O yes, certainly," said the Jack Daw,
"That must follow of course, I have thought;
Though I never before building saw,
I guess'd that without being taught."

"More moss, straw, and feathers, I place,
In this manner," continued the Pye.
"Yes, no doubt, Madam, that is the case;
Though no builder myself, even I,"

Said the Starling, "conjectur'd 'twas so;
It must of necessity follow:
For more moss, straw, and feathers, I know,
It requires, to be soft, round, and hollow."

Whatever she taught them beside,
In his turn every bird of them said,
Though the nest-making art he ne'er tried,
He had just such a thought in his head.

Still the Pye went on shewing her art,
Till a nest she had built up half way;
She no more of her skill would impart,
But in anger went flutt'ring away.

And this speech in their hearing she made,
As she perched o'er their heads on a tree,
"If ye all were well skill'd in my trade,
Pray, why came ye to learn it of me?"--

When a scholar is willing to learn,
He with silent submission should hear.
Too late they their folly discern;
The effect to this day does appear:

For whenever a Pye's nest you see,
Her charming warm canopy view,
All birds' nests but hers seem to be
A Magpye's nest just cut in two.

The Boy and the Sky-Lark


"A wicked action fear to do,
When you are by yourselves; for though
You think you can conceal it,
A little bird that's in the air
The hidden trespass shall declare,
And openly reveal it."

Richard this saying oft had heard,
Until the sight of any bird
Would set his heart a quaking;
He saw a host of winged spies
For ever o'er him in the skies,
Note of his actions taking.

This pious precept, while it stood
In his remembrance, kept him good
When nobody was by him;
For though no human eye was near,
Yet Richard still did wisely fear
The little bird should spy him.

But best resolves will sometimes sleep;
Poor frailty will not always keep
From that which is forbidden;
And Richard one day, left alone,
Laid hands on something not his own,
And hop'd the theft was hidden.

His conscience slept a day or two,
As it is very apt to do
When we with pain suppress it;
And though at times a slight remorse
Would raise a pang, it had not force
To make him yet confess it.

When on a day, as he abroad
Walk'd by his mother, in their road
He heard a sky-lark singing;
Smit with the sound, a flood of tears
Proclaim'd the superstitious fears
His inmost bosom wringing.

His mother, wond'ring, saw him cry,
And fondly ask'd the reason why;
Then Richard made confession,
And said, he fear'd the little bird
He singing in the air had heard
Was telling his transgression.

The words which Richard spoke below,
As sounds by nature upwards go,
Were to the sky-lark carried;
The airy traveller with surprise
To hear his sayings, in the skies
On his mid journey tarried.

His anger then the bird exprest:
"Sure, since the day I left the nest,
I ne'er heard folly utter'd
So fit to move a sky-lark's mirth,
As what this little son of earth
Hath in his grossness mutter'd.

"Dull fool! to think we sons of air
On man's low actions waste a care,
His virtues or his vices;
Or soaring on the summer gales,
That we should stoop to carry tales
Of him or his devices!

"Our songs are all of the delights
We find in our wild airy flights,
And heavenly exaltation;
The earth you mortals have at heart
Is all too gross to have a part
In sky-lark's conversation.

"Unless it be in what green field
Or meadow we our nest may build,
Midst flowering broom, or heather;
From whence our new-fledg'd offspring may
With least obstruction wing their way
Up to the walks of ether.

"Mistaken fool! man needs not us
His secret merits to discuss,
Or spy out his transgression;
When once he feels his conscience stirr'd,
That voice within him is the bird
That moves him to confession."

The Men and Women, and the Monkeys


When beasts by words their meanings could declare,
Some well-drest men and women did repair
To gaze upon two monkeys at a fair:

And one who was the spokesman in the place
Said, in their count'nance you might plainly trace
The likeness of a wither'd old man's face.

His observation none impeach'd or blam'd,
But every man and woman when 'twas nam'd
Drew in the head, or slunk away asham'd.

One monkey, who had more pride than the other,
His infinite chagrin could scarcely smother;
But Pug the wiser said unto his brother:

"The slights and coolness of this human nation
Should give a sensible ape no mort'fication;
'Tis thus they always serve a poor relation."

Love, Death, and Reputation


Once on a time, Love, Death, and Reputation,
Three travellers, a tour together went;
And, after many a long perambulation,
Agreed to part by mutual consent.

Death said: "My fellow tourists, I am going
To seek for harvests in th' embattled plain;
Where drums are beating, and loud trumpets blowing,
There you'll be sure to meet with me again"

Love said: "My friends, I mean to spend my leisure
With some young couple, fresh in Hymen's bands;
Or 'mongst relations, who in equal measure
Have had bequeathed to them house or lands."

But Reputation said: "If once we sever,
Our chance of future meeting is but vain:
Who parts from me, must look to part for ever,
For Reputation lost comes not again."

The Sparrow and the Hen

A Sparrow, when Sparrows like Parrots could speak,
Addressed an old Hen who could talk like a Jay:
Said he, "It's unjust that we Sparrows must seek
Our food, when your family's fed every day.

"Were you like the Peacock, that elegant bird,
The sight of whose plumage her master may please,
I then should not wonder that you are preferr'd
To the yard, where in affluence you live at your ease.

"I affect no great style, am not costly in feathers,
A good honest brown I find most to my liking,
It always looks neat, and is fit for all weathers,
But I think your gray mixture is not very striking.

"We know that the bird from the isles of Canary
Is fed, foreign airs to sing in a fine cage;
But your note from a cackle so seldom does vary,
The fancy of man it cannot much engage.

"My chirp to a song sure approaches much nearer,
Nay, the Nightingale tells me I sing not amiss;
If voice were in question I ought to be dearer;
But the Owl he assures me there's nothing in this.

"Nor is it your proneness to domestication,
For he dwells in man's barn, and I build in man's thatch,
As we say to each other--but, to our vexation,
O'er your safety alone man keeps diligent watch."

"Have you e'er learned to read?" said the Hen to the Sparrow.
"No, Madam," he answer'd, "I can't say I have,"
"Then that is the reason your sight is so narrow,"
The old Hen replied, with a look very grave.

"Mrs. Glasse in a Treatise--I wish you could read--
Our importance has shown, and has prov'd to us why
Man shields us and feeds us: of us he has need
Ev'n before we are born, even after we die."

Which is the Favourite?

Brothers and sisters I have many:
Though I know there is not any
Of them but I love, yet I
Will just name them all; and try,
As one by one I count them o'er,
If there be one a little more
Lov'd by me than all the rest.
Yes; I do think, that I love best
My brother Henry, because he
Has always been most fond of me.
Yet, to be sure, there's Isabel;
I think I love her quite as well.
And, I assure you, little Ann,
No brother nor no sister can
Be more dear to me than she.
Only, I must say, Emily,
Being the eldest, it's right her
To all the rest I should prefer.
Yet after all I've said, suppose
My greatest fav'rite should be Rose.
No, John and Paul are both more dear
To me than Rose, that's always here,
While they are half the year at school;
And yet that neither is no rule.
I've nam'd them all, there's only seven;
I find my love to all so even,
To every sister, every brother,
I love not one more than another.

The Beggar-Man

Abject, stooping, old, and wan,
See yon wretched beggar man;
Once a father's hopeful heir,
Once a mother's tender care.
When too young to understand
He but scorch'd his little hand,
By the candle's flaming light
Attracted, dancing, spiral, bright,
Clasping fond her darling round,
A thousand kisses heal'd the wound.
Now abject, stooping, old, and wan,
No mother tends the beggar man.

Then nought too good for him to wear,
With cherub face and flaxen hair,
In fancy's choicest gauds array'd,
Cap of lace with rose to aid,
Milk-white hat and feather blue,
Shoes of red, and coral too
With silver bells to please his ear,
And charm the frequent ready tear.
Now abject, stooping, old, and wan,
Neglected is the beggar man.

See the boy advance in age,
And learning spreads her useful page;
In vain! for giddy pleasure calls,
And shews the marbles, tops, and balls.
What's learning to the charms of play?
The indulgent tutor must give way.
A heedless wilful dunce, and wild,
The parents' fondness spoil'd the child;
The youth in vagrant courses ran;
Now abject, stooping, old, and wan,
Their fondling is the beggar man.

Choosing a Profession

A Creole boy from the West Indies brought,
To be in European learning taught,
Some years before to Westminster he went,
To a Preparatory School was sent.
When from his artless tale the mistress found,
The child had not one friend on English ground,
She, ev'n as if she his own mother were,
Made the dark Indian her peculiar care.
Oft on her fav'rite's future lot she thought;
To know the bent of his young mind she sought,
For much the kind preceptress wish'd to find
To what profession he was most inclin'd,
That where his genius led they might him train;
For nature's kindly bent she held not vain.
But vain her efforts to explore his will;
The frequent question he evaded still:
Till on a day at length he to her came,
Joy sparkling in his eyes; and said, the same
Trade he would be those boys of colour were,
Who danc'd so happy in the open air.
It was a troop of chimney-sweeping boys,
With wooden music and obstrep'rous noise,
In tarnish'd finery and grotesque array,
Were dancing in the street the first of May.


A dinner party, coffee, tea,
Sandwich, or supper, all may be
In their way pleasant. But to me
Not one of these deserves the praise
That welcomer of new-born days,
A breakfast, merits; ever giving
Cheerful notice we are living
Another day refresh'd by sleep,
When its festival we keep.
Now although I would not slight
Those kindly words we use "Good night,"
Yet parting words are words of sorrow,
And may not vie with sweet "Good morrow,"
With which again our friends we greet,
When in the breakfast-room we meet,
At the social table round,
Listening to the lively sound
Of those notes which never tire,
Of urn, or kettle on the fire.
Sleepy Robert never hears
Or urn, or kettle; he appears
When all have finish'd, one by one
Dropping off, and breakfast done.
Yet has he too his own pleasure,
His breakfast hour's his hour of leisure;
And, left alone, he reads or muses,
Or else in idle mood he uses
To sit and watch the vent'rous fly,
Where the sugar's piled high,
Clambering o'er the lumps so white,
Rocky cliffs of sweet delight.


As busy Aurelia, 'twixt work and 'twixt play,
Was lab'ring industriously hard
To cull the vile weeds from the flow'rets away,
Which grew in her father's court-yard;

In her juvenile anger, wherever she found,
She pluck'd, and she pull'd, and she tore;
The poor passive suff'rers bestrew'd all the ground;
Not a weed of them all she forbore.

At length 'twas her chance on some nettles to light
(Things, till then, she had scarcely heard nam'd);
The vulgar intruders call'd forth all her spite;
In a transport of rage she exclaim'd,

"Shall briars so unsightly and worthless as those
Their great sprawling leaves thus presume
To mix with the pink, the jonquil, and the rose,
And take up a flower's sweet room?"

On the odious offenders enraged she flew;
But she presently found to her cost
A tingling unlook'd for, a pain that was new,
And rage was in agony lost.

To her father she hastily fled for relief,
And told him her pain and her smart;
With kindly caresses he soothed her grief,
Then smiling he took the weed's part.

"The world, my Aurelia, this garden of ours
Resembles: too apt we're to deem
In the world's larger garden ourselves as the flow'rs,
And the poor but as weeds to esteem.

"But them if we rate, or with rudeness repel,
Though some will be passive enough,
From others who're more independent 'tis well
If we meet not a stinging rebuff."

Parental Recollections

A child's a plaything for an hour;
Its pretty tricks we try
For that or for a longer space;
Then tire, and lay it by.

But I knew one, that to itself
All seasons could controul;
That would have mock'd the sense of pain
Out of a grieved soul.

Thou, straggler into loving arms,
Young climber up of knees,
When I forget thy thousand ways,
Then life and all shall cease.

The Two Boys

I saw a boy with eager eye
Open a book upon a stall,
And read as he'd devour it all:
Which when the stall-man did espy,
Soon to the boy I heard him call,
"You, Sir, you never buy a book,
Therefore in one you shall not look."
The boy pass'd slowly on, and with a sigh
He wish'd he never had been taught to read,
Then of the old churl's books he should have had no need.

Of sufferings the poor have many,
Which never can the rich annoy.
I soon perceiv'd another boy
Who look'd as if he'd not had any
Food for that day at least, enjoy
The sight of cold meat in a tavern larder.
This boy's case, thought I, is surely harder,
Thus hungry longing, thus without a penny,
Beholding choice of dainty dressed meat:
No wonder if he wish he ne'er had learn'd to eat.

The Offer

"Tell me, would you rather be
Chang'd by a fairy to the fine
Young orphan heiress Geraldine,
Or still be Emily?

"Consider, ere you answer me,
How many blessings are procur'd
By riches, and how much endur'd
By chilling poverty."

After a pause, said Emily:
"In the words orphan heiress I
Find many a solid reason why
I would not changed be.

"What though I live in poverty,
And have of sisters eight--so many,
That few indulgences, if any,
Fall to the share of me;

"Think you that for wealth I'd be
Of ev'n the least of them bereft,
Or lose my parent, and be left
An orphan'd Emily?

"Still should I be Emily,
Although I look'd like Geraldine;
I feel within this heart of mine
No change could worked be."

The Sister's Expostulation on the Brother's Learning Latin

Shut these odious books up, brother--
They have made you quite another
Thing from what you us'd to be--
Once you lik'd to play with me--
Now you leave me all alone,
And are so conceited grown
With your Latin, you'll scarce look
Upon any English book.
We had us'd on winter eyes
To con over Shakespeare's leaves,
Or on Milton's harder sense
Exercise our diligence--
And you would explain with ease
The obscurer passages,
Find me out the prettiest places
The poetic turns, and graces,
Which alas! now you are gone,
I must puzzle out alone,
And oft miss the meaning quite,
Wanting you to set me right.
All this comes since you've been under
Your new master. I much wonder
What great charm it is you see
In those words, musa, musæ;
Or in what they do excel
Our word, song. It sounds as well
To my fancy as the other.
Now believe me, dearest brother,
I would give my finest frock,
And my cabinet, and stock
Of new playthings, every toy,
I would give them all with joy,
Could I you returning see
Back to English and to me.

The Brother's Reply

Sister, fie, for shame, no more,
Give this ignorant babble o'er,
Nor with little female pride
Things above your sense deride.
Why this foolish under-rating
Of my first attempts at Latin?
Know you not each thing we prize
Does from small beginnings rise?
'Twas the same thing with your writing,
Which you now take such delight in.
First you learnt the down-stroke line,
Then the hair-stroke thin and fine,
Then a curve, and then a better,
Till you came to form a letter;
Then a new task was begun,
How to join them two in one;
Till you got (these first steps past)
To your fine text-hand at last.
So though I at first commence
With the humble accidence,
And my study's course affords
Little else as yet but words,
I shall venture in a while
At construction, grammar, style,
Learn my syntax, and proceed
Classic authors next to read,
Such as wiser, better, make us,
Sallust, Phædrus, Ovid, Flaccus:
All the poets (with their wit),
All the grave historians writ,
Who the lives and actions show
Of men famous long ago;
Ev'n their very sayings giving
In the tongue they us'd when living.

Think not I shall do that wrong
Either to my native tongue,
English authors to despise,
Or those books which you so prize;
Though from them awhile I stray,
By new studies call'd away,
Them when next I take in hand,
I shall better understand.
For I've heard wise men declare
Many words in English are
From the Latin tongue deriv'd,
Of whose sense girls are depriv'd
'Cause they do not Latin know.--
But if all this anger grow
From this cause, that you suspect
By proceedings indirect,
I would keep (as misers pelf)
All this learning to myself;
Sister, to remove this doubt,
Rather than we will fall out,
(If our parents will agree)
You shall Latin learn with me.

Nurse Green

"Your prayers you have said, and you've wished Good night:
What cause is there yet keeps my darling awake?
This throb in your bosom proclaims some affright
Disturbs your composure. Can innocence quake?

"Why thus do you cling to my neck, and enfold me,
What fear unimparted your quiet devours?"
"O mother, there's reason--for Susan has told me,
A dead body lies in the room next to ours."

"I know it; and, but for forgetfulness, dear,
I meant you the coffin this day should have seen,
And read the inscription, and told me the year
And day of the death of your poor old Nurse Green."

"O not for the wealth of the world would I enter
A chamber wherein a dead body lay hid,
Lest somebody bolder than I am should venture
To go near the coffin and lift up the lid."

"And should they do so and the coffin uncover,
The corpse underneath it would be no ill sight;
This frame, when its animal functions are over,
Has nothing of horror the living to fright.

"To start at the dead is preposterous error,
To shrink from a foe that can never contest;
Shall that which is motionless move thee to terror;
Or thou become restless, 'cause they are at rest?

"To think harm of her our good feelings forbid us
By whom when a babe you were dandled and fed;
Who living so many good offices did us,
I ne'er can persuade me would hurt us when dead.

"But if no endeavour your terrors can smother,
If vainly against apprehension you strive,
Come, bury your fears in the arms of your mother;
My darling, cling close to me, I am alive."

Good Temper

In whatsoever place resides
Good Temper, she o'er all presides;
The most obdurate heart she guides.

Even Anger yields unto her power,
And sullen Spite forgets to lour,
Or reconciled weeps a shower;

Reserve she softens into Ease,
Makes Fretfulness leave off to teaze,
She Waywardness itself can please.

Her handmaids they are not a few:
Sincerity that's ever true,
And Prompt Obedience always new,

Urbanity that ever smiles,
And Frankness that ne'er useth wiles,
And Friendliness that ne'er beguiles,

And Firmness that is always ready
To make young good-resolves more steady,
The only safeguard of the giddy;

And blushing Modesty, and sweet
Humility in fashion neat;
Yet still her train is incomplete,

Unless meek Piety attend
Good Temper as her surest friend,
Abiding with her to the end.

Moderation in Diet

The drunkard's sin, excess in wine,
Which reason drowns, and health destroys,
As yet no failing is of thine,
Dear Jim; strong drink's not given to boys.

You from the cool fresh steam allay
Those thirsts which sultry suns excite;
When choak'd with dust, or hot with play,
A cup of water yields delight.

And reverence still that temperate cup,
And cherish long the blameless taste;
To learn the faults of men grown up,
Dear Jim, be wise and do not haste.

They'll come too soon.--But there's a vice,
That shares the world's contempt no less;
To be in eating over-nice,
Or to court surfeits by excess.

The first, as finical, avoid;
The last is proper to a swine:
By temperance meat is best enjoy'd;
Think of this maxim when you dine.

Prefer with plain food to be fed,
Rather than what are dainties styl'd;
A sweet tooth in an infant's head
Is pardon'd, not in a grown child.

If parent, aunt, or liberal friend,
With splendid shilling line your purse,
Do not the same on sweetmeats spend,
Nor appetite with pampering nurse.

Go buy a book; a dainty eaten
Is vanish'd, and no sweets remain;
They who their minds with knowledge sweeten,
The savour long as life retain.

Purchase some toy, a horse of wood,
A pasteboard ship; their structure scan;
Their mimic uses understood,
The school-boy make a kind of man.

Go see some show; pictures or prints;
Or beasts far brought from Indian land;
Those foreign sights oft furnish hints,
That may the youthful mind expand.

And something of your store impart,
To feed the poor and hungry soul;
What buys for you the needless tart,
May purchase him a needful roll.

Incorrect Speaking

Incorrectness in your speech
Carefully avoid, my Anna;
Study well the sense of each
Sentence, lest in any manner
It misrepresent the truth;
Veracity's the charm of youth.

You will not, I know, tell lies,
If you know what you are speaking.--
Truth is shy, and from us flies;
Unless diligently seeking
Into every word we pry,
Falsehood will her place supply.

Falsehood is not shy, not she,--
Ever ready to take place of
Truth, too oft we Falsehood see,
Or at least some latent trace of
Falsehood, in the incorrect
Words of those who Truth respect.


O why your good deeds with such pride do you scan,
And why that self-satisfied smile
At the shilling you gave to the poor working man,
That lifted you over the stile?

'Tis not much; all the bread that can with it be bought
Will scarce give a morsel to each
Of his eight hungry children;--reflection and thought
Should you more humility teach.

Vain glory's a worm which the very best action
Will taint, and its soundness eat thro';
But to give one's self airs for a small benefaction,
Is folly and vanity too.

The money perhaps by your father or mother
Was furnish'd you but with that view;
If so, you were only the steward of another,
And the praise you usurp is their due.

Perhaps every shilling you give in this way
Is paid back with two by your friends;
Then the bounty you so ostentatious display,
Has little and low selfish ends.

But if every penny you gave were your own,
And giving diminish'd your purse;
By a child's slender means think how little is done,
And how little for it you're the worse.

You eat, and you drink; when you rise in the morn,
You are cloth'd; you have health and content;
And you never have known, from the day you were born,
What hunger or nakedness meant.

The most which your bounty from you can subtract
Is an apple, a sweetmeat, a toy;
For so easy a virtue, so trifling an act,
You are paid with an innocent joy.

Give thy bread to the hungry, the thirsty thy cup;
Divide with th' afflicted thy lot:
This can only be practis'd by persons grown up,
Who've possessions which children have not.

Having two cloaks, give one (said our Lord) to the poor;
In such bounty as that lies the trial:
But a child that gives half of its infantile store
Has small praise, because small self-denial.

My Birth-Day

A dozen years since in this house what commotion,
What bustle, what stir, and what joyful ado;
Ev'ry soul in the family at my devotion,
When into the world I came twelve years ago.

I've been told by my friends (if they do not belie me)
My promise was such as no parent would scorn;
The wise and the aged who prophesied by me,
Augur'd nothing but good of me when I was born.

But vain are the hopes which are form'd by a parent,
Fallacious the marks which in infancy shine;
My frail constitution soon made it apparent,
I nourish'd within me the seeds of decline.

On a sick bed I lay, through the flesh my bones started,
My grief-wasted frame to a skeleton fell;
My physicians foreboding took leave and departed,
And they wish'd me dead now, who wished me well.

Life and soul were kept in by a mother's assistance,
Who struggled with faith, and prevail'd 'gainst despair;
Like an angel she watch'd o'er the lamp of existence,
And never would leave while a glimmer was there.

By her care I'm alive now--but what retribution
Can I for a life twice bestow'd thus confer?
Were I to be silent, each year's revolution
Proclaims--each new birth-day is owing to her.

The chance-rooted tree that by way-sides is planted,
Where no friendly hand will watch o'er its young shoots,
Has less blame if in autumn, when produce is wanted,
Enrich'd by small culture it put forth small fruits.

But that which with labour in hot-beds is reared,
Secur'd by nice art from the dews and the rains,
Unsound at the root may with justice be feared,
If it pay not with int'rest the tiller's hard pains.

The Beasts in the Tower

Within the precincts of this yard,
Each in his narrow confines barr'd,
Dwells every beast that can be found
On Afric or on Indian ground.
How different was the life they led
In those wild haunts where they were bred,
To this tame servitude and fear,
Enslav'd by man, they suffer here!

In that uneasy close recess
Couches a sleeping Lioness;
The next den holds a Bear; the next
A Wolf, by hunger ever vext;
There, fiercer from the keeper's lashes,
His teeth the fell Hyena gnashes;
That creature on whose back abound
Black spots upon a yellow ground,
A Panther is, the fairest beast
That haunteth in the spacious East.
He underneath a fair outside
Does cruelty and treach'ry hide.

That cat-like beast that to and fro
Restless as fire does ever go,
As if his courage did resent
His limbs in such confinement pent,
That should their prey in forests take,
And make the Indian jungles quake,
A Tiger is. Observe how sleek
And glossy smooth his coat: no streak
On sattin ever match'd the pride
Of that which marks his furry hide.
How strong his muscles! he with ease
Upon the tallest man could seize,
In his large mouth away could bear him,
And into thousand pieces tear him:
Yet cabin'd so securely here,
The smallest infant need not fear.

That lordly creature next to him
A Lion is. Survey each limb.
Observe the texture of his claws,
The massy thickness of those jaws;
His mane that sweeps the ground in length,
Like Samson's locks, betok'ning strength.
In force and swiftness he excels
Each beast that in the forest dwells;
The savage tribes him king confess
Throughout the howling wilderness.
Woe to the hapless neighbourhood,
When he is press'd by want of food!
Of man, or child, of bull, or horse,
He makes his prey; such is his force.
A waste behind him he creates,
Whole villages depopulates.
Yet here within appointed lines
How small a grate his rage confines!

This place methinks resembleth well
The world itself in which we dwell.
Perils and snares on every ground
Like these wild beasts beset us round.
But Providence their rage restrains,
Our heavenly Keeper sets them chains;
His goodness saveth every hour
His darlings from the Lion's power.

The Confidant

Anna was always full of thought
As if she'd many sorrows known,
Yet mostly her full heart was fraught
With troubles that were not her own;
For the whole school to Anna us'd to tell
Whatever small misfortunes unto them befell.

And being so by all belov'd,
That all into her bosom pour'd
Their dearest secrets, she was mov'd
To pity all--her heart a hoard,
Or storehouse, by this means became for all
The sorrows can to girls of tender age befall.

Though individually not much
Distress throughout the school prevail'd,
Yet as she shar'd it all, 'twas such
A weight of woe that her assail'd,
She lost her colour, loath'd her food, and grew
So dull, that all their confidence from her withdrew.

Released from her daily care,
No longer list'ning to complaint,
She seems to breathe a different air,
And health once more her cheek does paint.
Still Anna loves her friends, but will not hear
Again their list of grievances which cost so dear.

Thoughtless Cruelty

There, Robert, you have kill'd that fly--
And should you thousand ages try
The life you've taken to supply,
You could not do it.

You surely must have been devoid
Of thought and sense, to have destroy'd
A thing which no way you annoy'd--
You'll one day rue it.

'Twas but a fly perhaps you'll say,
That's born in April, dies in May;
That does but just learn to display
His wings one minute,

And in the next is vanish'd quite.
A bird devours it in his flight--
Or come a cold blast in the night,
There's no breath in it.

The bird but seeks his proper food--
And Providence, whose power endu'd
That fly with life, when it thinks good,
May justly take it.

But you have no excuses for't--
A life by Nature made so short,
Less reason is that you for sport
Should shorter make it.

A fly a little thing you rate--
But, Robert, do not estimate
A creature's pain by small or great;
The greatest being

Can have but fibres, nerves, and flesh,
And these the smallest ones possess,
Although their frame and structure less
Escape our seeing.


Lucy, what do you espy
In the cast in Jenny's eye
That should you to laughter move?
I far other feelings prove.
When on me she does advance
Her good-natur'd countenance,
And those eyes which in their way
Saying much, so much would say,
They to me no blemish seem,
Or as none I them esteem;
I their imperfection prize
Above other clearer eyes.

Eyes do not as jewels go
By the brightness and the show,
But the meanings which surround them,
And the sweetness shines around them.

Isabel's are black as jet,
But she cannot that forget,
And the pains she takes to show them
Robs them of the praise we owe them.
Ann's, though blue, affected fall;
Kate's are bright, but fierce withal;
And the sparklers of her sister
From ill-humour lose their lustre.
Only Jenny's eyes we see,
By their very plainness, free
From the vices which do smother
All the beauties of the other.

Penny Pieces

"I keep it, dear Papa, within my glove."
"You do--what sum then usually, my love,
Is there deposited? I make no doubt,
Some Penny Pieces you are not without."

"O no, Papa, they'd soil my glove, and be
Quite odious things to carry. O no--see,
This little bit of gold is surely all
That I shall want; for I shall only call
For a small purchase I shall make, Papa,
And a mere trifle I'm to buy Mamma,
Just to make out the change: so there's no need
To carry Penny Pieces, Sir, indeed."

"O now I know then why a blind man said
Unto a dog which this blind beggar led,--
'Where'er you see some fine young ladies, Tray,
Be sure you lead me quite another way.
The poor man's friend fair ladies us'd to be;
But now I find no tale of misery
Will ever from their pockets draw a penny.'--
The blind man did not see they wear not any."

The Rainbow

After the tempest in the sky
How sweet yon Rainbow to the eye!
Come, my Matilda, now while some
Few drops of rain are yet to come,
In this honeysuckle bower
Safely shelter'd from the shower,
We may count the colours o'er.--
Seven there are, there are no more;
Each in each so finely blended,
Where they begin, or where are ended,
The finest eye can scarcely see.
A fixed thing it seems to be;
But, while we speak, see how it glides
Away, and now observe it hides
Half of its perfect arch--now we
Scarce any part of it can see.
What is colour? If I were
A natural philosopher,
I would tell you what does make
This meteor every colour take:
But an unlearned eye may view
Nature's rare sights, and love them too.
Whenever I a Rainbow see,
Each precious tint is dear to me;
For every colour find I there,
Which flowers, which fields, which ladies wear;
My favourite green, the grass's hue,
And the fine deep violet-blue,
And the pretty pale blue-bell,
And the rose I love so well,
All the wondrous variations
Of the tulip, pinks, carnations,
This woodbine here both flower and leaf;--
'Tis a truth that's past belief,
That every flower and every tree,
And every living thing we see,
Every face which we espy,
Every cheek and every eye,
In all their tints, in every shade,
Are from the Rainbow's colours made.

The Force of Habit

A little child, who had desired
To go and see the Park guns fired,
Was taken by his maid that way
Upon the next rejoicing day.
Soon as the unexpected stroke
Upon his tender organs broke,
Confus'd and stunn'd at the report,
He to her arms fled for support,
And begg'd to be convey'd at once
Out of the noise of those great guns,
Those naughty guns, whose only sound
Would kill (he said) without a wound:
So much of horror and offence
The shock had giv'n his infant sense.
Yet this was He in after days
Who fill'd the world with martial praise,
When from the English quarter-deck
His steady courage sway'd the wreck
Of hostile fleets, disturb'd no more
By all that vast conflicting roar,
That sky and sea did seem to tear,
When vessels whole blew up in air,
Than at the smallest breath that heaves,
When Zephyr hardly stirs the leaves.

Clock Striking

Did I hear the church-clock a few minutes ago,
I was ask'd, and I answer'd, I hardly did know,
But I thought that I heard it strike three.
Said my friend then, "The blessings we always possess
We know not the want of, and prize them the less;
The church-clock was no new sound to thee.

"A young woman, afflicted with deafness a year,
By that sound you scarce heard, first perceiv'd she could hear;
I was near her, and saw the girl start
With such exquisite wonder, such feelings of pride,
A happiness almost to terror allied,
She shew'd the sound went to her heart."

Why Not Do It, Sir, To-day?

"Why so I will, you noisy bird,
This very day I'll advertise you,
Perhaps some busy ones may prize you.
A fine-tongu'd parrot as was ever heard,
I'll word it thus--set forth all charms about you,
And say no family should be without you."

Thus far a gentleman address'd a bird,
Then to his friend: "An old procrastinator,
Sir, I am: do you wonder that I hate her?
Though she but seven words can say,
Twenty and twenty times a day
She interferes with all my dreams,
My projects, plans, and airy schemes,
Mocking my foible to my sorrow:
I'll advertise this bird to-morrow."

To this the bird seven words did say:
"Why not do it, Sir, to-day?"

Home Delights

To operas and balls my cousins take me,
And fond of plays my new-made friend would make me.
In summer season, when the days are fair,
In my godmother's coach I take the air.
My uncle has a stately pleasure barge,
Gilded and gay, adorn'd with wondrous charge;
The mast is polish'd, and the sails are fine,
The awnings of white silk like silver shine;
The seats of crimson sattin, where the rowers
Keep time to music with their painted oars;
In this on holydays we oft resort
To Richmond, Twickenham, or to Hampton Court.
By turns we play, we sing--one baits the hook,
Another angles--some more idle look
At the small fry that sport beneath the tides,
Or at the swan that on the surface glides.
My married sister says there is no feast
Equal to sight of foreign bird or beast.
With her in search of these I often roam:
My kinder parents make me blest at home.
Tir'd of excursions, visitings, and sights,
No joys are pleasing to these home delights.

The Coffee Slips

Whene'er I fragrant coffee drink,
I on the generous Frenchman think,
Whose noble perseverance bore
The tree to Martinico's shore.
While yet her colony was new,
Her island products but a few,
Two shoots from off a coffee-tree
He carried with him o'er the sea.
Each little tender coffee slip
He waters daily in the ship,
And as he tends his embryo trees,
Feels he is raising midst the seas
Coffee groves, whose ample shade
Shall screen the dark Creolian maid.
But soon, alas! his darling pleasure
In watching this his precious treasure
Is like to fade,--for water fails
On board the ship in which he sails.
Now all the reservoirs are shut,
The crew on short allowance put;
So small a drop is each man's share,
Few leavings you may think there are
To water these poor coffee plants;--
But he supplies their gasping wants,
Ev'n from his own dry parched lips
He spares it for his coffee slips.
Water he gives his nurslings first,
Ere he allays his own deep thirst;
Lest, if he first the water sip,
He bear too far his eager lip.
He sees them droop for want of more;--
Yet when they reached the destin'd shore,
With pride th' heroic gardener sees
A living sap still in his trees.
The islanders his praise resound;
Coffee plantations rise around;
And Martinico loads her ships
With produce from those dear-sav'd slips.[1]

[Footnote 1: The name of this man was Desclieux, and the story is to
be found in the Abbé Raynal's History of the Settlements and Trade of
the Europeans in the East and West Indies, book XIII.]

The Dessert

With the apples and the plums
Little Carolina comes,
At the time of the dessert she
Comes and drops her new last curt'sy;
Graceful curt'sy, practis'd o'er
In the nursery before.
What shall we compare her to?
The dessert itself will do.
Like preserves she's kept with care,
Like blanch'd almonds she is fair,
Soft as down on peach her hair,
And so soft, so smooth is each
Pretty cheek as that same peach,
Yet more like in hue to cherries;
Then her lips, the sweet strawberries,
Caroline herself shall try them
If they are not like when nigh them;
Her bright eyes are black as sloes,
But I think we've none of those
Common fruit here--and her chin
From a round point does begin,
Like the small end of a pear;
Whiter drapery she does wear
Than the frost on cake; and sweeter
Than the cake itself, and neater,
Though bedeck'd with emblems fine,
Is our little Caroline.

To a Young Lady, on Being Too Fond of Music

Why is your mind thus all day long
Upon your music set;
Till reason's swallow'd in a song,
Or idle canzonet?

I grant you, Melesinda, when
Your instrument was new,
I was well pleas'd to see you then
Its charms assiduous woo.

The rudiments of any art
Or mast'ry that we try,
Are only on the learner's part
Got by hard industry.

But you are past your first essays;
Whene'er you play, your touch,
Skilful, and light, ensures you praise:
All beyond that's too much.

Music's sweet uses are, to smooth
Each rough and angry passion;
To elevate at once, and soothe:
A heavenly recreation.

But we misconstrue, and defeat
The end of any good;
When what should be our casual treat,
We make our constant food.

While, to th' exclusion of the rest,
This single art you ply,
Your nobler studies are supprest,
Your books neglected lie.

Could you in what you so affect
The utmost summit reach;
Beyond what fondest friends expect,
Or skilful'st masters teach:

The skill you learn'd would not repay
The time and pains it cost,
Youth's precious season thrown away,
And reading-leisure lost.

A benefit to books we owe,
Music can ne'er dispense;
The one does only sound bestow,
The other gives us sense.

Time Spent in Dress

In many a lecture, many a book,
You all have heard, you all have read,
That time is precious. Of its use
Much has been written, much been said.

The accomplishments which gladden life,
As music, drawing, dancing, are
Encroachers on our precious time;
Their praise or dispraise I forbear.

They should be practis'd or forborne,
As parents wish, or friends desire:
What rests alone in their own will
Is all I of the young require.

There's not a more productive source
Of waste of time to the young mind
Than dress; as it regards our hours
My view of it is now confin'd.

Without some calculation, youth
May live to age and never guess,
That no one study they pursue
Takes half the time they give to dress.

Write in your memorandum-book
The time you at your toilette spend;
Then every moment which you pass,
Talking of dress with a young friend:

And ever when your silent thoughts
Have on this subject been intent,
Set down as nearly as you can
How long on dress your thoughts were bent.

If faithfully you should perform
This task, 'twould teach you to repair
Lost hours, by giving unto dress
Not more of time than its due share.

The Fairy

Said Ann to Matilda, "I wish that we knew
If what we've been reading of fairies be true.
Do you think that the poet himself had a sight of
The fairies he here does so prettily write of?
O what a sweet sight if he really had seen
The graceful Titania, the Fairy-land Queen!
If I had such dreams, I would sleep a whole year;
I would not wish to wake while a fairy was near.--
Now I'll fancy that I in my sleep have been seeing
A fine little delicate lady-like being,
Whose steps and whose motions so light were and airy,
I knew at one glance that she must be a fairy.
Her eyes they were blue, and her fine curling hair
Of the lightest of browns, her complexion more fair
Than I e'er saw a woman's; and then for her height,
I verily think that she measur'd not quite
Two feet, yet so justly proportion'd withal,
I was almost persuaded to think she was tall.
Her voice was the little thin note of a sprite--
There--d'ye think I have made out a fairy aright?
You'll confess, I believe, I've not done it amiss."
"Pardon me," said Matilda, "I find in all this
Fine description, you've only your young sister Mary
Been taking a copy of here for a fairy."

Conquest of Prejudice

Unto a Yorkshire school was sent
A Negro youth to learn to write,
And the first day young Juba went
All gaz'd on him as a rare sight.

But soon with alter'd looks askance
They view his sable face and form,
When they perceive the scornful glance
Of the head boy, young Henry Orme.

He in the school was first in fame:
Said he, "It does to me appear
To be a great disgrace and shame
A black should be admitted here."

His words were quickly whisper'd round,
And every boy now looks offended;
The master saw the change, and found
That Orme a mutiny intended.

Said he to Orme, "This African
It seems is not by you approv'd;
I'll find a way, young Englishman,
To have this prejudice remov'd.

"Nearer acquaintance possibly
May make you tolerate his hue;
At least 'tis my intent to try
What a short month may chance to do."

Young Orme and Juba then he led
Into a room, in which there were
For each of the two boys a bed,
A table, and a wicker chair.

He lock'd them in, secur'd the key,
That all access to them was stopt;
They from without can nothing see;
Their food is through a sky-light dropt.

A month in this lone chamber Orme
Is sentenc'd during all that time
To view no other face or form
Than Juba's parch'd by Afric clime.

One word they neither of them spoke
The first three days of the first week;
On the fourth day the ice was broke;
Orme was the first that deign'd to speak.

The dreary silence o'er, both glad
To hear of human voice the sound,
The Negro and the English lad
Comfort in mutual converse found.

Of ships and seas, and foreign coast,
Juba can speak, for he has been
A voyager: and Orme can boast
He London's famous town has seen.

In eager talk they pass the day,
And borrow hours ev'n from the night;
So pleasantly time past away,
That they have lost their reckoning quite.

And when their master set them free,
They thought a week was sure remitted,
And thank'd him that their liberty
Had been before the time permitted.

Now Orme and Juba are good friends;
The school, by Orme's example won,
Contend who most shall make amends
For former slights to Afric's son.

The Great Grandfather

My father's grandfather lives still,
His age is fourscore years and ten;
He looks a monument of time,
The agedest of aged men.

Though years lie on him like a load,
A happier man you will not see
Than he, whenever he can get
His great grand-children on his knee.

When we our parents have displeas'd,
He stands between us as a screen;
By him our good deeds in the sun,
Our bad ones in the shade are seen.

His love's a line that's long drawn out,
Yet lasteth firm unto the end;
His heart is oak, yet unto us
It like the gentlest reed can bend.

A fighting soldier he has been--
Yet by his manners you would guess,
That he his whole long life had spent
In scenes of country quietness.

His talk is all of things long past,
For modern facts no pleasure yield--
Of the fam'd year of forty-five,
Of William, and Culloden's field.

The deeds of this eventful age,
Which princes from their thrones have hurl'd,
Can no more interest wake in him
Than stories of another world.

When I his length of days revolve,
How like a strong tree he hath stood,
It brings into my mind almost
Those patriarchs old before the flood.

The Spartan Boy

When I the memory repeat
Of the heroic actions great,
Which, in contempt of pain and death,
Were done by men who drew their breath
In ages past, I find no deed
That can in fortitude exceed
The noble Boy, in Sparta bred,
Who in the temple minist'red.

By the sacrifice he stands,
The lighted incense in his hands.
Through the smoking censer's lid
Dropp'd a burning coal, which slid
Into his sleeve, and passed in
Between the folds ev'n to the skin.
Dire was the pain which then he prov'd;
But not for this his sleeve he mov'd,
Or would the scorching ember shake
Out from the folds, lest it should make
Any confusion, or excite
Disturbance at the sacred rite.
But close he kept the burning coal,
Till it eat itself a hole
In his flesh. The slanders by
Saw no sign, and heard no cry,
Of his pangs had no discerning,
Till they smell'd the flesh aburning
All this he did in noble scorn,
And for he was a Spartan born.

Young student, who this story readest,
And with the same thy thoughts now feedest,
Thy weaker nerves might thee forbid
To do the thing the Spartan did;
Thy feebler heart could not sustain
Such dire extremity of pain.
But in this story thou mayst see,
What may useful prove to thee.
By his example thou wilt find,
That to the ingenuous mind
Shame can greater anguish bring
Than the body's suffering;
That pain is not the worst of ills,
Not when it the body kills;
That in fair religion's cause,
For thy country, or the laws,
When occasion due shall offer
'Tis reproachful not to suffer.
If thou shouldst a soldier be,
And a wound should trouble thee,
If without the soldier's fame
Thou to chance shouldst owe a maim,
Do not for a little pain
On thy manhood bring a stain;
But to keep thy spirits whole,
Think on the Spartan and the coal.

Queen Oriana's Dream

(Text of 1818)

On a bank with roses shaded,
Whose sweet scent the violets aided,
Violets whose breath alone
Yields but feeble smell or none,
(Sweeter bed Jove ne'er repos'd on
When his eyes Olympus closed on,)
While o'er head six slaves did hold
Canopy of cloth o' gold,
And two more did music keep,
Which might Juno lull to sleep,
Oriana who was queen
To the mighty Tamerlane,
That was lord of all the land
Between Thrace and Samarchand,
While the noon-tide fervor beam'd,
Mused herself to sleep, and dream'd.

Thus far, in magnific strain,
A young poet sooth'd his vein,
But he had nor prose nor numbers
To express a princess' slumbers.--
Youthful Richard had strange fancies,
Was deep versed in old romances,
And could talk whole hours upon
The great Cham and Prester John,--
Tell the field in which the Sophi
From the Tartar won a trophy--
What he read with such delight of,
Thought he could as eas'ly write of--
But his over-young invention
Kept not pace with brave intention.
Twenty suns did rise and set,
And he could no further get;
But, unable to proceed,
Made a virtue out of need,
And, his labours wiselier deem'd of,
Did omit what the queen dream'd of.

On a Picture of the Finding of Moses by Pharaoh's Daughter

This Picture does the story express
Of Moses in the Bulrushes.
How livelily the painter's hand
By colours makes us understand!

Moses that little infant is.
This figure is his sister. This
Fine stately lady is no less
A personage than a princess,
Daughter of Pharaoh, Egypt's king;
Whom Providence did hither bring
This little Hebrew child to save.
See how near the perilous wave
He lies exposed in the ark,
His rushy cradle, his frail bark!
Pharaoh, king of Egypt land,
In his greatness gave command
To his slaves, they should destroy
Every new-born Hebrew boy.
This Moses was an Hebrew's son.
When he was born, his birth to none
His mother told, to none reveal'd,
But kept her goodly child conceal'd.
Three months she hid him; then she wrought
With Bulrushes this ark, and brought
Him in it to this river's side,
Carefully looking far and wide
To see that no Egyptian eye
Her ark-hid treasure should espy.
Among the river-flags she lays
The child. Near him his sister stays.
We may imagine her affright,
When the king's daughter is in sight.
Soon the princess will perceive
The ark among the flags, and give
Command to her attendant maid
That its contents shall be display'd.
Within the ark the child is found,
And now he utters mournful sound.
Behold he weeps, as if he were
Afraid of cruel Egypt's heir!
She speaks, she says, "This little one
I will protect, though he the son
Be of an Hebrew." Every word
She speaks is by the sister heard.
And now observe, this is the part
The painter chose to show his art.
Look at the sister's eager eye,
As here she seems advancing nigh.
Lowly she bends, says, "Shall I go
And call a nurse to thee? I know
A Hebrew woman liveth near,
Great lady, shall I bring her here?"
See! Pharaoh's daughter answers, "Go."--
No more the painter's art can show.
He cannot make his figures move.--
On the light wings of swiftest love
The girl will fly to bring the mother
To be the nurse, she'll bring no other.
To her will Pharaoh's daughter say,
"Take this child from me away:
For wages nurse him. To my home
At proper age this child may come.
When to our palace he is brought,
Wise masters shall for him be sought
To train him up, befitting one
I would protect as my own son.
And Moses be a name unto him,
Because I from the waters drew him."


It is not always to the strong
Victorious battle shall belong.
This found Goliath huge and tall:
Mightiest giant of them all,
Who in the proud Philistian host
Defied Israel with boast.

With loud voice Goliath said:
"Hear, armed Israel, gathered,
And in array against us set:
Ye shall alone by me be met.
For am not I a Philistine?
What strength may be compar'd to mine?

"Chuse ye a man of greatest might:
And if he conquer me in fight,
Then we will all servants be,
King of Israel, unto thee.
But if I prove the victor, then
Shall Saul and all his armed men
Bend low beneath Philistian yoke."
Day by day these words he spoke,
Singly traversing the ground.
But not an Israelite was found
To combat man to man with him,
Who such prodigious force of limb
Display'd. Like to a weaver's beam
The pond'rous spear he held did seem.
In height six cubits he did pass,
And he was arm'd all o'er in brass.

Him we will leave awhile--and speak
Of one, the soft down on whose cheek
Of tender youth the tokens bare.
Ruddy he was and very fair.
David, the son of Jesse he,
Small-siz'd, yet beautiful to see.
Three brothers had he in the band
Of warriors under Saul's command;
Himself at home did private keep
In Bethlem's plains his father's sheep.

Jesse said to this his son:
"David, to thy brothers run,
Where in the camp they now abide,
And learn what of them may betide.
These presents for their captains take,
And of their fare inquiries make."
With joy the youth his sire obey'd.--
David was no whit dismay'd
When he arrived at the place
Where he beheld the strength and face
Of dread Goliath, and could hear
The challenge. Of the people near
Unmov'd he ask'd, what should be done
To him who slew that boasting one,
Whose words such mischiefs did forebode
To th' armies of the living God?

"The king," they unto David say,
"Most amply will that man repay,
He and his father's house shall be
Evermore in Israel free.
With mighty wealth Saul will endow
That man: and he has made a vow;
Whoever takes Goliath's life,
Shall have Saul's daughter for his wife."

His eldest brother, who had heard
His question, was to anger stirr'd
Against the youth: for (as he thought)
Things out of his young reach he sought.
Said he, "What mov'd thee to come here,
To question warlike men? say, where
And in whose care are those few sheep,
That in the wilderness you keep?
I know thy thoughts, how proud thou art:
In the naughtiness of thy heart,
Hoping a battle thou mayst see,
Thou comest hither down to me."

Then answer'd Jesse's youngest son
In these words: "What have I done?
Is there not cause?" Some there which heard,
And at the manner of his word
Admir'd, report this to the king.
By his command they David bring
Into his presence. Fearless then,
Before the king and his chief men,
He shews his confident design
To combat with the Philistine.
Saul with wonder heard the youth,
And thus address'd him: "Of a truth,
No pow'r thy untried sinew hath
To cope with this great man of Gath."

Lowly David bow'd his head,
And with firm voice the stripling said:
"Thy servant kept his father's sheep.--
Rushing from a mountain steep
There came a lion, and a bear,
The firstlings of my flock to tear.
Thy servant hath that lion kill'd,
And kill'd that bear, when from the field
Two young lambs by force they seiz'd.
The Lord was mercifully pleas'd
Me to deliver from the paw
Of the fierce bear, and cruel jaw
Of the strong lion. I shall slay
Th' unrighteous Philistine this day,
If God deliver him also
To me." He ceas'd. The king said, "Go:
Thy God, the God of Israel, be
In the battle still with thee."

David departs, unarmed, save
A staff in hand he chanc'd to have.
Nothing to the fight he took,
Save five smooth stones from out a brook;
These in his shepherd's scrip he plac'd,
That was fasten'd round his waist.
With staff and sling alone he meets
The armed giant, who him greets
With nought but scorn. Looking askance
On the fair ruddy countenance
Of his young enemy--"Am I
A dog, that thou com'st here to try
Thy strength upon me with a staff--?"
Goliath said with scornful laugh.
"Thou com'st with sword, with spear, with shield,
Yet thou to me this day must yield.
The Lord of Hosts is on my side,
Whose armies boastful thou'st defied.
All nations of the earth shall hear
He saveth not with shield and spear."

Thus David spake, and nigher went,
Then chusing from his scrip, he sent
Out of his slender sling a stone.--
The giant utter'd fearful moan.
The stone though small had pierced deep
Into his forehead, endless sleep
Giving Goliath--and thus died
Of Philistines the strength and pride.

David in the Cave of Adullam

(Text of 1818)

David and his three captains bold
Kept ambush once within a hold.
It was in Adullam's cave,
Nigh which no water they could have,
Nor spring, nor running brook was near
To quench the thirst that parch'd them there.
Then David, king of Israel,
Strait bethought him of a well,
Which stood beside the city gate,
At Bethlem; where, before his state
Of kingly dignity, he had
Oft drunk his fill, a shepherd lad;
But now his fierce Philistine foe
Encamp'd before it he does know.
Yet ne'er the less, with heat opprest,
Those three bold captains he addrest,
And wish'd that one to him would bring
Some water from his native spring.
His valiant captains instantly
To execute his will did fly.
The mighty Three the ranks broke through
Of armed foes, and water drew
For David, their beloved king,
At his own sweet native spring.
Back through their armed foes they haste,
With the hard earn'd treasure graced.
But when the good king David found
What they had done, he on the ground
The water pour'd. "Because," said he,
"That it was at the jeopardy
Of your three lives this thing ye did,
That I should drink it, God forbid."

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1808 time line

A natural companion to reading Mary Lamb:

Mad Mary Lamb on Susan Tyler Hitchcock's web site
Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary London by Susan Tyler Hitchcock