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POEMS BY MARY HOWITT.
A FOREST SCENE
IN THE DAYS OF WICKLIFFE.
A little child she read a book
Beside an open door ; And, as she read page after page,
She wonder'd more and more.
Her little finger carefully
Went pointing out the place ;Her golden locks hung drooping down,
And shadow'd half her face.
open book lay on her knee, Her eyes on it were bent; And as she read page after page,
The colour came and went.
She sate upon a mossy stone
An open door beside ; And round, for miles on every hand,
Stretch'd out a forest wide.
his hair tangled and matted together,-for why should he care for his looks; there was no other expression in his countenance, than that of irritation from being intruded upon, when he wanted to hear nothing, see nothing more of his brother man; he did not rise, nor even look up, nor return the salutation of Gordon, who continued to stand before him.
At last, as if wearied beyond endeavor, he asked, “ What do you want of me? Can't you let me alone, even here ?"
“I come," said Gordon, in to see you, because my daughter told me all you did for her when you."
As if touched to the heart, Smith's whole appear. ance changed; an expression of deep interest came over his features ; he was altogether another man. The sullen indifference passed away in an instant. “Are you the father of that little girl ?—Oh what a dear child she is! Is she well and happy? How I love to think of her! That's one pleasant thing I have to think of. For once I was treated like other men. Could I kiss her once, I think I should be happier.” In this hurried manner he poured out an intensity of feeling, little supposed to lie in the bosom of a condemned felon.
Gordon remained with Smith, whispered to him of peace beyond the grave for the penitent, smoothed in some degree his passage through the dark val. ley, and did not return to his family until Christian love could do no more for an erring brother, on whom scarcely before had the eye of love rested ; whose hand had been against all men, because their hands had been against him.
I have told the story more at length, and interwoven some unimportant circumstances, but it is before you substantially as it was related to me.The main incidents are true; though, doubtless, as the story has been handed down from generation to generation, it has been colored by the imagination. The silver tankard as an heir loom has descended in the family—the property of the daughter named Mehitable, and is now in the possession of the lady of a clergyman in Massachusetts.
What a crowd of thoughts do these incidents cause to rush in upon the mind! How sure is the overcoming of evil with good, -How truly did Jesus Christ know what is in the heart of man,-How true to the best feelings of human nature are even the outcasts of society,–How much of our virtue do we owe to our position among men,-How inconsistent with Christian love is it to put to death our brother, whose crimes arise mainly from the vices and wrong structure of society,- How incessant should be our exertions to disseminate the truth, that the world may be reformed, and the law of love be substituted for the law of force. The reader will not however need our help to make the right nse of the guarding of the “- silver tankard,” by the kindness and innocence of a child.
The summer sun shone on the trees,
The deer lay in the shade ; And overhead the singing birds
Their pleasant clamour made. There was no garden round the house,
And it was low and small,
The lichens on the wall.
Yet flowers were growing free,
Upon the forest-lea.
The bees were in the flowers ;
As she had sate for hours. " Why sit you here, my little maid ?”
An aged pilgrim spake;
Like one but just awake.
And solemn was her look,
• Oh, sir, I read this book !"
To win a child like thee?-
And frolic with the bee !"
I love it more than play ;- . I've read all legends, but this one
Ne'er saw I till this day.
little English porcupine, What a troubled and weary life is thine ! I would that my pity thy foes could quell, For thou art ill-used and meanest well.
The lowly lot of peasant folk,
Their humblest hopes and fears ; The pale cheek of a woman,
And even children's tears : All circumstance of mortal life,
The lowly though it be;
The wealth of poesy-
Not quite unworthy thee!
Anything which excites the tenderness of the human heart, and directs it toward heartless customs and cruel prejudices, is doing the work of a missionary in the world's redemption, though it be in the form of a little child-like poem. Who can estimate the blessed influence of Mary Howitt, on future generations
s? The small seed she plants with such loving diligence, will grow into spreading trees, and nations rest in their shade. Hear her plead for the persecuted Hedge-Hog.
Thou poor little English porcupine,
Oh, the sunny, summer time!
Oh, the leafy summer time! Merry is the bird's life,
When the year is in its prime! Birds are by the water-falls
Dashing in the rain-bow spray; Everywhere, everywhere
Light and lovely there are they ! Birds are in the forest old,
Building in each hoary tree; Birds are on the green hills;
Birds are by the sea ;
Thou scarce can stir from thy tree-root
On the moor, and in the fen,
'Mong the whortle-berries green; In the yellow furze bush
There the joyous bird is seen; In the heather on the hill;
All among the mountain thyme; By the little brook-sides,
Where the sparkling water's chime; In the crag; and on the peak,
Splintered, savage, wild, and bare, There the bird with wild wing
Wheeleth through the air.
Thou scarce canst put out that nose of thine;
The poor Hedgehog! one would think he knew
Wheeleth through the breezy air,
Singing, screaming in his flight, Calling to his bird-mate,
In a troubleless delight ! In the green and leafy wood,
Where the branching ferns up-curl, Soon as is the dawning,
Wakes the mavis and the merle; Wakes the cuckoo on the bough;
Wakes the jay with ruddy breast; Wakes the mother ring-dove
Brooding on her nest !
How unkind the world must seem to him,
How hard it must be to be kicked about If by chance his prickly back peep out; To be all his days misunderstood, When he could not harm us if he would ! He's an innocent thing, living under the blame That he merits not, of an evil name; He is weak and small,-and all he needs Lies under the hedge among the weeds.
Oh, the sunny summer time!
Oh, the leafy summer time! Merry is the bird's life
When the year is in its prime! Some are strong and some are weak;
Some love day and some love night :But where'er a bird is,
Whate'er loves—it has delight,
In the liquid air it cleaves ;
In the nest it weaves!
He robs not man of rest nor food,