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Cottage Poems, by Patrick Bronte
 
 
TO THE REV. J. GILPIN, ON HIS
IMPROVED EDITION OF THE "PILGRIM’S PROGRESS.”


When, Reverend Sir, your good design,
To clothe our Pilgrim gravely fine,
And give him gentler mien and gait,
First reached my ear, his doubtful fate
With dread suspense my mind oppressed,
Awoke my fears, and broke my rest.
Yet, still, had England said, "You’re free,
Choose whom you will,” dear sir, to thee,
For dress beseeming modest worth,
I would have led our pilgrim forth.
But when I viewed him o’er and o’er,
And scrutinized the weeds he wore,
And marked his mien and marked his gait,
And saw him trample sin, elate,
And heard him speak, though coarse and plain,
His mighty truths in nervous strain,
I could not gain my own consent
To your acknowledged good intent.
I had my fears, lest honest John,
When he beheld his polished son
(If saints ought earthly care to know),
Would take him for some Bond Street beau,
p. 228Or for that thing—it wants a name—
Devoid of truth, of sense and shame,
Which smooths its chin and licks its lip,
And mounts the pulpit with a skip,
Then turning round its pretty face,
To smite each fair one in the place,
Relaxes half to vacant smile,
And aims with trope and polished style,
And lisp affected, to pourtray
Its silly self in colours gay—
Its fusty moral stuff t’ unload,
And preach itself, and not its God.
Thus, wishing, doubting, trembling led,
I oped your book, your Pilgrim read.
As rising Phœbus lights the skies,
And fading night before him flies,
Till darkness to his cave is hurled
And golden day has gilt the world,
Nor vapour, cloud, nor mist is seen
To sully all the pure serene:
So, as I read each modest line,
Increasing light began to shine,
My cloudy fears and doubts gave way,
Till all around shone Heaven’s own day.
And when I closed the book, thought I,
Should Bunyan leave his throne on high;
He’d own the kindness you have done
To Christian, his orphan son:
And smiling as once Eden smiled,
Would thus address his holy child:—
"My son, ere I removed from hence,
I spared nor labour nor expense
p. 229To gain for you the heavenly prize,
And teach you to make others wise.
But still, though inward worth was thine,
You lay a diamond in the mine:
You wanted outward polish bright
To show your pure intrinsic light.
Some knew your worth, and seized the prize,
And now are thronèd in the skies:
Whilst others swilled with folly’s wine,
But trod the pearl like the swine,
In ignorance sunk in their grave,
And thence, where burning oceans lave.
Now polished bright, your native flame
And inward worth are still the same;
A flaming diamond still you glow,
In brighter hues: then cheery go—
More suited by a skilful hand
To do your father’s high command:
Fit ornament for sage or clown,
Or beggar’s rags, or kingly crown.


THE COTTAGE MAID.

Aloft on the brow of a mountain,
And hard by a clear running fountain,
In neat little cot,
Content with her lot,
Retired, there lives a sweet maiden.
Her father is dead, and her brother—
And now she alone with her mother
Will spin on her wheel,
And sew, knit, and reel,
And cheerfully work for their living.
p. 230To gossip she never will roam,
She loves, and she stays at, her home,
Unless when a neighbour
In sickness does labour,
Then, kindly, she pays her a visit.
With Bible she stands by her bed,
And when some blest passage is read,
In prayer and in praises
Her sweet voice she raises
To Him who for sinners once died.
Well versed in her Bible is she,
Her language is artless and free,
Imparting pure joy,
That never can cloy,
And smoothing the pillow of death.
To novels and plays not inclined,
Nor aught that can sully her mind;
Temptations may shower,—
Unmoved as a tower,
She quenches the fiery arrows.
She dresses as plain as the lily
That modestly glows in the valley,
And never will go
To play, dance or show—
She calls them the engines of Satan.
With tears in her eyes she oft says,
"Away with your dances and plays!
The ills that perplex
The half of our sex
Are owing to you, Satan’s engines.”
p. 231Released from her daily employment,
Intent upon solid enjoyment,
Her time she won’t idle,
But reads in her Bible,
And books that divinely enlighten.
Whilst others at wake, dance, and play
Chide life’s restless moments away,
And ruin their souls—
In pleasure she rolls,
The foretaste of heavenly joys.
Her soul is refined by her Lord,
She shines in the truths of His Word:
Each Christian grace
Shines full in her face,
And heightens the glow of her charms.
One day as I passed o’er the mountain,
She sung by a clear crystal fountain
(Nor knew I was near);
Her notes charmed my ear,
As thus she melodiously chanted:
"Oh! when shall we see our dear Jesus?
His presence from poverty frees us,—
And bright from His face
The rays of His grace
Beam, purging transgression for ever.
"Oh! when shall we see our dear Jesus?
His presence from sorrow will ease us,
When up to the sky
With angels we fly—
Then farewell all sorrow for ever!
p. 232"Come quickly! come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Thy presence alone can appease us;
For aye on Thy breast
Believers shall rest,
Where blest they shall praise Thee for ever.”
Oh, had you but seen this sweet maiden!
She smiled like the flowers of Eden,
And raised to the skies
Her fond beaming eyes,
And sighed to be with her Redeemer
While thus she stood heavenly musing,
And sometimes her Bible perusing,
Came over the way,
All silvered with grey,
A crippled and aged poor woman.
Her visage was sallow and thin,
Through her rags peeped her sunburnt skin;
With sorrow oppressed,
She held to her breast
An infant, all pallid with hunger.
Half breathless by climbing the mountain,
She tremblingly stood by the fountain,
And begged that our maid
Would lend her some aid,
And pity both her and her infant.
Our maiden had nought but her earning—
Her heart with soft pity was yearning;
She drooped like a lily
Bedewed in the valley,
Whilst tears fell in pearly showers.
p. 233With air unaffected and winning,
To cover them, of her own spinning
Her apron of blue,
Though handsome and new,
She gave, and led them to her cottage.
All peace, my dear maiden, be thine:
Your manners and looks are divine;
On earth you shall rest,
In heaven be blest,
And shine like an angel for ever.
More blest than the king on the throne
Is he who shall call you his own!
The ruby, with you
Compared, fades to blue—
Its price is but dust on the balance. {233a}
Religion makes beauty enchanting,
And even where beauty is wanting,
The temper and mind,
Religion-refined,
Will shine through the veil with sweet lustre.


THE SPIDER AND THE FLY.

The sun shines bright, the morning’s fair,
The gossamers {233b}float on the air,
The dew-gems twinkle in the glare,
The spider’s loom
p. 234Is closely plied, with artful care,
Even in my room.
See how she moves in zigzag line,
And draws along her silken twine,
Too soft for touch, for sight too fine,
Nicely cementing:
And makes her polished drapery shine,
The edge indenting.
Her silken ware is gaily spread,
And now she weaves herself a bed,
Where, hiding all but just her head,
She watching lies
For moths or gnats, entangled spread,
Or buzzing flies.
You cunning pest! why, forward, dare
So near to lay your bloody snare!
But you to kingly courts repair
With fell design,
And spread with kindred courtiers there
Entangling twine. {234}
Ah, silly fly! will you advance?
I see you in the sunbeam dance:
Attracted by the silken glance
In that dread loom;
Or blindly led, by fatal chance,
To meet your doom.
Ah! think not, ’tis the velvet flue
Of hare, or rabbit, tempts your view;
Or silken threads of dazzling hue,
To ease your wing,
p. 235The foaming savage, couched for you,
Is on the spring.
Entangled! freed!—and yet again
You touch! ’tis o’er—that plaintive strain,
That mournful buzz, that struggle vain,
Proclaim your doom:
Up to the murderous den you’re ta’en,
Your bloody tomb!
So thoughtless youths will trifling play
With dangers on their giddy way,
Or madly err in open day
Through passions fell,
And fall, though warned oft, a prey
To death and hell!
But hark! the fluttering leafy trees
Proclaim the gently swelling breeze,
Whilst through my window, by degrees,
Its breathings play:
The spider’s web, all tattered flees,
Like thought, away.
Thus worldlings lean on broken props,
And idly weave their cobweb-hopes,
And hang o’er hell by spider’s ropes,
Whilst sins enthral;
Affliction blows—their joy elopes—
And down they fall! {235} p. 236
 
 
EPISTLE TO A YOUNG CLERGYMAN.

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”—2 Timothy ii. 15.
My youthful brother, oft I long
To write to you in prose or song;
With no pretence to judgment strong,
But warm affection—
May truest friendship rivet long
Our close connection!
With deference, what I impart
Receive with humble grateful heart,
Nor proudly from my counsel start,
I only lend it—
A friend ne’er aims a poisoned dart—
He wounds, to mend it.
A graduate you’ve just been made,
And lately passed the Mitred Head;
I trust, by the Blest Spirit, led,
And Shepherd’s care:
And not a wolf, in sheepskin clad,
As numbers are.
The greatest office you sustain
For love of souls, and not of gain:
Through your neglect should one be slain,
The Scriptures say,
Your careless hands his blood will stain,
On the Last Day.
But if pure truths, like virgin snows,
You loud proclaim, to friends and foes,
p. 237Consoling these, deterring those—
To heaven you’ll fly;
Though stubborn sinners still oppose,
And graceless die. {237a}
Divide the word of truth aright,
Show Jesus in a saving light,
Proclaim to all they’re dead outright
Till Grace restore them: {237b}
The great Redeemer, full in sight,
Keep still before them.
Dare not, like some, to mince the matter—
Nor dazzling tropes and figures scatter,
Nor coarsely speak nor basely flatter,
Nor grovelling go:
But let plain truths, as Life’s pure water,
Pellucid flow.
The sinner level with the dead,
The Lamb exalt, the Church’s Head,
His holiness, adoring spread,
With godly zeal:
Enforce, though sinless, how He bled
For sinners’ weal.
Pourtray how God in thunder spoke
His fiery Law, whilst curling smoke,
In terror fierce, from Sinai broke,
Midst raging flame!
Then Jesu’s milder blood invoke,
And preach His name.
p. 238Remember still to fear the Lord,
To live, as well as preach, His word,
And wield the Gospel’s two-edged sword,
Though dangers lower—
Example only can afford
To precept power.
And dress nor slovenly nor gay,
Nor sternly act; nor trifling play;
Still keep the golden middle way
Whate’er betide you;
And ne’er through giddy pleasures stray,
Though fools deride you.
As wily serpent ever prove,
Yet harmless as the turtle-dove,
Still winning souls by guileful love
And deep invention—
So once the great Apostle strove
With good intention. {238}
And inly to thyself take heed,
Oft prove your heart, its pages read,—
Self-knowledge will, in time of need,
Your wants supply;
Who knows himself, from dangers freed,
Where’er he lie.
So God will own the labours done,
Approving see His honoured Son,
And honoured Law; and numbers won
Of souls immortal,
Through grace, will onward conquering run
To heaven’s bright portal.
p. 239And on that last and greatest day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
A perfect band, in bright array,
Will form your crown,
Your joys triumphant wide display,
And sorrows drown.
And now farewell, my youthful friend—
Excuse these lines, in candour penned;
To me as freely counsel lend,
With zeal as fervent—
For you will pray, till life does end,
Your humble servant.


EPISTLE TO THE LABOURING POOR.

All you who turn the sturdy soil,
Or ply the loom with daily toil,
And lowly on through life turmoil
For scanty fare,
Attend, and gather richest spoil
To soothe your care.
I write with tender, feeling heart—
Then kindly read what I impart;
’Tis freely penned, devoid of art,
In homely style,
’Tis meant to ward off Satan’s dart,
And show his guile.
I write to ope your sin-closed eyes,
And make you great, and rich, and wise,
And give you peace when trials rise,
And sorrows gloom;
p. 240I write to fit you for the skies
On Day of Doom.
What, though you dwell in lowly cot,
And share through life a humble lot?
Some thousands wealth and fame have got,
Yet know no rest:
They build, pull down, and scheme and plot,
And die unblest.
Your mean attire and scanty fare
Are, doubtless, springs of bitter care—
Expose you blushing, trembling, bare,
To haughty scorn;
Yet murmur not in black despair,
Nor weep forlorn.
You see that lordling glittering ride
In all the pomp of wealth and pride,
With lady lolling at his side,
And train attendant:
’Tis all, when felt and fairly tried,
But care resplendent.
As riches grow his wants increase,
His passions burn and gnaw his peace,
Ambition foams like raging seas
And breaks the rein,
Excess produces pale disease
And racking pain.
Compared with him thrice happy you;
Though small your stock your wants are few—
Each wild desire your toils subdue,
And sweeten rest,
p. 241Remove all fancied ills from view,
And calm your breast.
Your labours give the coarsest food
A relish sweet and cleanse the blood,
Make cheerful health in spring-tide flood
Incessant boil,
And seldom restless thoughts obtrude
On daily toil.
Those relish least who proudly own
Rich groves and parks familiar grown;
The gazing stranger passing on
Enjoys them most—
The toy possessed—the pleasure’s flown,
For ever lost.
Then grateful let each murmur die,
And joyous wipe the tearful eye:
Erect a palace in the sky—
Be rich in grace:
Loathe this vain world, and longing sigh
For Jesu’s face.
Both rich and poor, who serve not God,
But live in sin, averse to good,
Rejecting Christ’s atoning blood,
Midst hellish shoals,
Shall welter in that fiery flood,
Which hissing rolls.
But all who worship God aright,
In Christ His Son and image bright,
With minds illumed by Gospel light,
Shall find the way
p. 242That leads to bliss, and take their flight
To heavenly day.
There rich and poor, and high and low,
Nor sin, nor pain, nor sorrow know:
There Christ with one eternal glow
Gives life and light—
There streams of pleasure ever flow,
And pure delight.
Christ says to all with sin oppressed,
"Come here, and taste of heavenly rest,
Receive Me as your friendly guest
Into your cots;
In Me you shall be rich and blest,
Though mean your lots.
"Behold My hands, My feet, My side,
All crimsoned with the bloody tide!
For you I wept, and bled, and died,
And rose again:
And thronèd at My Father’s side,
Now plead amain!
"Repent, and enter Mercy’s door,
And though you dwell in cots obscure,
All guilty, ragged, hungry, poor,
I give in love
A crown of gold, and pardon sure,
To each above.”
Then hear the kind, inviting voice—
Believing in the Lord rejoice;
Your souls will hymn the happy choice
To God on high,
p. 243Whilst joyful angels swell the noise
Throughout the sky.
A fond farewell!—each cottage friend,
To Jesu’s love I would commend
Your souls and bodies to the end
Of life’s rough way;
Then (death subdued) may you ascend
To endless day!


THE COTTAGER’S HYMN.

I.
My food is but spare,
And humble my cot,
Yet Jesus dwells there
And blesses my lot:
Though thinly I’m clad,
And tempests oft roll,
He’s raiment, and bread,
And drink to my soul.
II.
His presence is wealth,
His grace is a treasure,
His promise is health
And joy out of measure.
His word is my rest,
His spirit my guide:
In Him I am blest
Whatever betide.
p. 244III.
Since Jesus is mine,
Adieu to all sorrow;
I ne’er shall repine,
Nor think of to-morrow:
The lily so fair,
And raven so black,
He nurses with care,
Then how shall I lack?
IV.
Each promise is sure,
That shines in His word,
And tells me, though poor,
I’m rich in my Lord.
Hence! Sorrow and Fear!
Since Jesus is nigh,
I’ll dry up each tear
And stifle each sigh.
V.
Though prince, duke, or lord,
Ne’er enter my shed,
King Jesus my board
With dainties does spread.
Since He is my guest,
For joy I shall sing,
And ever be blest
In Jesus my King.
VI.
With horrible din
Afflictions may swell,—
They cleanse me from sin,
They save me from hell:
They’re all but the rod
Of Jesus, in love;
They lead me to God
And blessings above.
VII.
Through sickness and pain
I flee to my Lord,
Sweet comfort to gain,
And health from His word;
Bleak scarcities raise
A keener desire,
To feed on His grace,
And wear His attire.
VIII.
The trials which frown,
Applied by His blood,
But plait me a crown,
And work for my good.
In praise I shall tell,
When throned in my rest,
The things which befell
Were always the best.
IX.
Whatever is hid
Shall burst on my sight
When hence I have fled
To glorious light.
Should chastisements lower,
Then let me resign;
p. 245Should kindnesses shower,
Let gratitude shine.
X.
Hence! Sorrow and Fear!
Since Jesus is nigh,
I’ll dry up each tear,
And stifle each sigh:
And clothed in His word
Will conquer my foes,
And follow my Lord
Wherever He goes.
XI.
My friends! let us fly
To Jesus our King;
And still as we hie,
Of grace let us sing.
Through pleasure and pain,
If faithful we prove,
For cots we shall gain
A palace above.

FINIS.
TURBUL AND SPEARS, PRINTERS, EDINBURG.
 
Footnotes:

{208} Proverbs xxiii. 31, 32.
{221} Mourne consists chiefly of a range of high mountains in
the north of Ireland.
{225} Isaiah i. 18.
{233a} Proverbs xxxi. 10.
{233b} Gossamers are the fine down of plants or the slender threads
of insects, which are frequently seen to glide through the sunny
atmosphere.
{234} Proverbs xxx. 28.
{235} Job viii. 13, 14.
{237a} Ezek. xxxiii. 8, 9.
{237b} Ephes. ii. 1-8.
{238} St Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 16.
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