His friend and father of his little all.
Crops failed, and friends proved false; but, worse than all,
The wife of his young love, bowed down with grief
For her sole child, like an autumnal leaf
Nipped by the frosts of night, drooped day by day,
As a fair morning cloud dissolves away.
Her eyes were dimmed with tears, and o’er her cheek,
Like a faint rainbow, broke a fitful streak,
Coming and vanishing. She weaker grew,
And scarce the half of their misfortunes knew,
Until the law’s stern minions, as their prey,
Relentless seized the bed on which she lay.
“My husband! Oh my son!” she faintly cried;
Sank on her pillow, and before them died.
Even they shed tears. The widowed husband, there,
Stood like the stricken ghost of dumb despair;
Then sobbed aloud, and, sinking on the bed,
Kissed the cold forehead of his sainted dead.
Then went he forth a lone and ruined man;
But, ere three moons their circling journeys ran,
Pride, like a burning poison in his breast,
Scorched up his life, and gave the ruined rest;
Yet not till he, with tottering steps and slow,
Regained the vale where Tweed’s fair waters flow,
And there, where pines around the churchyard wave,
He breathed his last upon his partner’s grave!
I may not tell what ills o’er Edmund passed;
Enough to say that fortune smiled at last.
In the far land where the broad Ganges rolls;
Where nature’s bathed in glory, and the souls
Of me alone dwell in a starless night,
While all around them glows and lives in light:
There now we find him, honoured, trusted, loved,
For from the humblest stations he had proved
Faithful in all, and trust on trust obtained,
Till, if not wealth, he independence gained—
Earth’s noblest blessing, and the dearest given
To man beneath the sacred hope of heaven.
And still, as time on silent pinions flew,
His fortunes flourished and his honours grew;
But as they grew, an anxious hope, that long
Had in his bosom been but as the song
Of viewless echo, indistinct, and still
Receding from us, grew as doth a rill
Embraced by others and increasing ever,
Till distant plains confess the sweeping river.
And, need I say, that hope referred alone
To her who in his heart had fixed her throne,
And reigned within it still, the sovereign queen.
Yet darkest visions oft would flit between
His fondest fancies, as the thought returned
That she for whom his soul still restless burned,
Would be another’s now, while haply he,
Lost to her heart, would to her memory be
As the remembrance of a pleasing dream,
Vague and forgotten half, but which we deem
Worthy no waking thought. Thus years rolled by;
Hope wilder glowed and brightened in his eye.
Nor knew he why he hoped; but though despair
The Enthusiast’s heart may madly grasp, and glare
Even on his soul, it may not long remain
A dweller on his breast, for hope doth reign
There as o’er its inheritance; and he
Lives in fond visions of futurity.