Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 328 pages of information about Tales.
For Conscience, roused, sat boldly on her throne,
Watch’d every thought, attack’d the foe alone,
And with envenom’d sting drew forth the inward groan: 
Expedients fail’d that brought relief before,
In vain his alms gave comfort to the poor,
Give what he would, to him the comfort came no more: 
Not prayer avail’d, and when (his crimes confess’d)
He felt some ease, she said, “Are they redress’d? 
You still retain the profit, and be sure,
Long as it lasts, this anguish shall endure.” 
   Fulham still tried to soothe her, cheat, mislead,
But Conscience laid her finger on the deed,
And read the crime with power, and all that must succeed: 
He tried t’expel her, but was sure to find
Her strength increased by all that he design’d;
Nor ever was his groan more loud and deep
Than when refresh’d she rose from momentary sleep. 
   Now desperate grown, weak, harass’d, and afraid,
From new allies he sought for doubtful aid;
To thought itself he strove to bid adieu,
And from devotions to diversions flew;
He took a poor domestic for a slave
(Though avarice grieved to see the price he gave);
Upon his board, once frugal, press’d a load
Of viands rich the appetite to goad;
The long protracted meal, the sparkling cup,
Fought with his gloom, and kept his courage up: 
Soon as the morning came, there met his eyes
Accounts of wealth, that he might reading rise;
To profit then he gave some active hours,
Till food and wine again should renovate his powers: 
Yet, spite of all defence, of every aid,
The watchful Foe her close attention paid;
In every thoughtful moment on she press’d,
And gave at once her dagger to his breast;
He waked at midnight, and the fears of sin,
As waters through a bursten dam, broke in;
Nay, in the banquet, with his friends around,
When all their cares and half their crimes were drown’d,
Would some chance act awake the slumbering fear,
And care and crime in all their strength appear: 
The news is read, a guilty victim swings,
And troubled looks proclaim the bosom-stings: 
Some pair are wed; this brings the wife in view;
And some divorced; this shows the parting too: 
Nor can he hear of evil word or deed,
But they to thought, and thought to sufferings lead. 
   Such was his life—­no other changes came,
The hurrying day, the conscious night the same;
The night of horror—­when he starting cried
To the poor startled sinner at his side,
“Is it in law? am I condemned to die? 
Let me escape!—­I’ll give—­oh! let me fly —
How! but a dream!—­no judges! dungeon! chain! 
Or these grim men!—­I will not sleep again —
Wilt thou, dread being! thus thy promise keep? 
Day is thy time—­and wilt thou murder sleep? 
Sorrow and want repose, and wilt thou come,
Nor give one hour of pure untroubled gloom? 
   “Oh!  Conscience!  Conscience! man’s most faithful friend,
Him canst thou comfort, ease, relieve, defend;
But if he will thy friendly checks forego,
Thou art, oh? woe for me, his deadliest foe?”

Project Gutenberg
Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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