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BY JAMES MERRICK.--1720 1766.
[Ar once amusing in verse and instructive in moral, this popular fable deserves a place in our volume ; and although not of the highest character of poetry, yet it commends itself to selection by its old association with our school days and its favourite place in all Juvenile Speakers, its author, moreover, was a distinguished scholar. He took orders and became tutor to Lord North, but was obliged to abandon hope of preferment from delicate health. He is author of several hymns and a version of the Psalms. ]
OFT has it been my lot to mark
A proud, conceited, talking spark,
How slow its pace! and then its hueWho ever saw so bright a blue?” “Hold there,” the other quick replies; “ 'Tis green--I saw it with these eyes, As late with open mouth it lay, And warmed it in the sunny ray; Stretched at its ease, the beast I viewed, And saw it eat the air for food.” “ I've seen it, sir, as well as you, And must again affirm it blue ; At leisure I the beast surveyed, Extended in the cooling shade.” “ 'Tis green, 'tis green, sir, I assure ye.” “Green !” cries the other in a fury; “Why, sir, d'ye think I've lost my eyes?” “ 'Twere no great loss,” the friend replies ; “For if they always serve you thus, You'll find them but of little use." So high at last the contest rose, From words they almost came to blows : When luckily came by a third ; To him the question they referred : And begged he'd tell them, if he knew, Whether the thing was green or blue. “Sirs,” cries the umpire, “cease your pother; The creature's neither one nor t’other. I caught the animal last night, And viewed it o'er by candle-light: I marked it well ; 'twas black as jet-You stare—but, sirs, I've got it yet And can produce it.” “Pray, sir, do; I'll lay my life the thing is blue.” “And I'll be sworn, that when you've seen The reptile, you'll pronounce him green.” “Well, then, at once to cease the doubt,” Replies the man, “I'll turn him out, And when before your eyes I've set him, If you don't find him black I'll eat him.” He said ; and full before their sight
Produced the beast, and lo! 'twas white.
Both stared; the man looked wondrous wise.
[The editor of the celebrated “ Reliques of Ancient English Poetry" was born at Bridgenorth, in Shropshire, educated at Christchurch, Oxford, and held the vicarage of Easton Maudit, in Northamptonshire, for nearly twenty-five years. In 1782 he was appointed Bishop of Dromore, in Ireland, which office he held at the time of his death. “The Hermit of Warkworth” is another of his most noteworthy poems ; but he will always be known more by his collection of ballads than anything else. His family hold the original MSS. from which his editions were made, and a verbatim reprint of these will be shortly published by the Early English Text Society.]
TT was a friar of orders gray
Clad in a pilgrim's weeds.
" Now Christ thee save, thou reverend friar,
I pray thee tell to me,
My true love thou didst see.”
" And how should I know your true-love
From many another one?”
And by his sandal shoon.
“ But chiefly by his face and mien,
That were so fair to view ;
And eyes of lovely blue."
Lady, he's dead and gone !
And at his heels a stone.
He languished, and he died, Lamenting of a lady's love,
And 'plaining of her pride.
Six proper youths and tall,
Within yon kirk-yard wall.” * And art thou dead, thou gentle youth !
And art thou dead and gone ! And didst thou die for love of me?
Break, cruel heart of stone !”
Some ghostly comfort seek :
Nor tears bedew thy cheek.” “O) do not, do not, holy friar,
My sorrow now reprove;
That e'er won lady's love.
I'll evermore weep and sigh : For thee I only wished to live,
For thee I wish to die." “Weep no more, lady, weep no more,
Thy sorrow is in vain ; For violets plucked, the sweetest showers
Will ne'er make grow again.
“Our joys as winged dreams do fly;
Why then should sorrow last? Since grief but aggravates thy loss,
Grieve not for what is past.”
I pray thee, say not so;
'Tis meet my tears should flow. “And will he never come again ?
Will he ne'er come again ?
For ever to remain.
The comeliest youth was he!
Alas, and woe is me!”
Men were deceivers ever : One foot on sea and one on land, · To one thing constant never. “Hadst thou been fond, he had been false,
And left thee sad and heavy;
Since summer trees were leafy.”
I pray thee say not so;
O he was ever true ! “ And art thou dead, thou much-loved youth,
And didst thou die for me? Then farewell home ; for evermore
A pilgrim I will be.
My weary limbs I'll lay,
That wraps his breathless clay.”