Or on some nameless stream’s untrodden banks,
And ruminates all day his dreadful fate.
At times, alas! not in his perfect mind!
Hold’s dialogues with his lov’d brother’s ghost;
And oft each night forsakes his sullen couch,
To make sad orisons for him he slew.
In ancient times, as story
The saints would often leave their cells,
And stroll about; but hide their quality,
To try good people’s hospitality.
It happened, on a winter night,
As authors on the legend write,
Two brother hermits, saints by trade;
Taking their tour in masquerade,
Disguis’d in tattered habits, went
To a small village down in Kent;
Where, in the stroller’s canting strain,
They begg’d from door to door, in-vain;
Tri’d every tone might pity win,
But not a soul would let them in.
Our wandering saints, in woeful
Treated at this ungodly rate,
Having through all the village pass’d,
To a small cottage came at last,
Where dwelt a good old honest yoeman,
Call’d in the neighbourhood, Philemon;
Who kindly did these saints invite
In his poor hut to pass the night;
And, then, the hospitable sire
Bid goody Baucis mend the fire;
While he, from out the chimney, took
A flitch of bacon off the hook,
And, freely from the fattest side,
Cut out large slices to be fry’d:
Then stept aside, to fetch them drink,
Fill’d a large jug up to the brink;
Then saw it fairly twice go round;
Yet (what is wonderful) they found,
’Twas still replenish’d to the top,
As if they had not touch’d a drop.
The good old couple were amaz’d,
And often on each other gaz’d;
For both were frighten’d to the heart,
And just began to cry—What art!
Then softly turn’d aside to view,
Whether the lights were turning blue,
The gentle pilgrims, soon aware on’t,
Told them their calling and their errand;
“Good folks you need not be afraid;
“We are but saints,” the hermit said;
“No hurt shall come to you or yours;
“But for that pack of churlish boors,
“Not fit to live on Christian ground,
“They, and their houses shall be drown’d;
“While you see your cottage rise,
“And grow a church before your eyes.”
They scarce had spoke, when
fair and soft,
The roof began to move aloft;
Aloft rose every beam and rafter;
The heavy wall climb’d slowly after.
The chimney widen’d, and grew higher,
Became a steeple with a spire.
The kettle to the top was hoist;
With upside down, doom’d