“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.”
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.
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?”