Brontė, Patrick. Cottage Poems. Halifax: P. K. Holden, 1811.


Rude winter's come, the sky's o'ercast,
The night is cold, and loud the blast,
The mingling snow, comes driving down,
Fast whitening o'er the flinty ground.
Severe their lots, whose crazy sheds,
Hang tottering o'er their trembling heads:
Whilst blows through walls and chinky door,
The drifting snow across the floor:
Where, blinking embers scarcely glow,
And rushlight, only serves to shew
What well may move the deepest sigh,
And force a tear from pity's eye.
You there may see a meagre pair,
Worn out with labour, grief and care:
Whose naked babes, in hungry mood,
Complain of cold, and cry for food;
Whilst tears bedew the mother's cheek,
And sighs the father's grief bespeak;
For, fire, or raiment, bed, or board,
Their dreary shed, cannot afford.

    Will no kind hand, confer relief;
And wipe away the tear of grief?
A little boon, it well might spare,
Would kindle joy, dispel their care:
Abate the rigour of the night,
And warm each heart--achievement bright!
Yea, brighter far, than such as grace
The annals of a princely race;
Where kings bestow a large domain,
But to receive as much again,
Or e'en corrupt the purest laws
Or fan the breath of vain applause.

    Peace to the man, who stoops his head;
To enter the most wretched shed,
Who, with his condescending smiles,
Poor diffidence and awe beguiles:
Till all encouraged, soon disclose
The different causes of their woes–
The moving tale dissolves his heart;
He liberally bestows a part
Of God's donation. From above,
Approving heaven, in smiles of love,
Looks on, and through the shining skies,
The Great Recording Angel flies,
The doors of mercy to unfold,
And write the deed in lines of gold;
There, if a fruit of Faith's fair tree,
To shine throughout eternity,
In honour of that Sovereign's dread,
Who had no place to lay his head,
Yet opened wide sweet mercy's door,
To all the desolate and poor,
Who stung with guilt, and hard oppressed,
Groaned to be with him, and at rest.

    Now, pent within the city wall,
They throng to theatre and hall,
Where gesture, look, and words conspire,
To stain the mind, the passions fire;
Whence sin-polluted streams abound,
That whelm the country all around.
Ah! Modesty, should you be here,
Close up the eye, and stop the ear;
Oppose your fan, nor peep beneath,
And blushing shun their tainted breath.

    Here, every rake, exerts his art,
T' ensnare the unsuspecting hearth.
The prostitute with faithless smiles,
Remorseless plays her tricks and wiles.
Her gesture bold, and ogling eye,
Obtrusive speech, and pert reply,
And brazen front, and stubborn tone,
Shew all her native virtue’s flown.
By her, the thoughtless youth is ta'en,
Impoverished, disgraced, or slain:
Through her, the marriage vows are broke,
And Hymen proves a galling yoke.
Diseases come, destruction's dealt,
Where'er her poisonous breath is felt;
Whilst she, poor wretch, dies in the flame,
That runs through her polluted frame.

    Once she was gentle, fair and kind,
To no seducing schemes inclined,
Would blush to hear a smutty tale,
Nor ever strolled o'er hill or dale,
But lived a sweet domestic maid,
To lend her aged parents aid–
And oft they gazed, and oft they smiled
On this their loved, and only child:
They thought they might in her be blest;
And she would see them laid at rest.

    A blithesome youth, of courtly mien,
Oft called to see this rural queen:
His oily tongue, and wily art,
Soon gained Maria's yielding heart.
The aged pair, too, liked the youth,
And thought him naught but love and truth.
The village feast, at length is come;
Maria by the youth's undone–
The youth is gone; so is her fame;
And with it, all her sense of shame:
And, now, she practices the art,
Which snared her unsuspecting heart;
And vice, with a progressive sway,
More hardened makes her every day.
Averse to good, and prone to ill,
And dexterous in seducing skill;
To look, as if her eyes would melt;
T' affect a love, she never felt;
To half suppress the rising sigh;
Mechanically to weep and cry;
To vow eternal truth, and then
To break her vow, and vow again.
Her ways, are darkness, death and hell;
Remorse, and shame, and passions fell,
And short-lived joy, and endless pain,
Pursue her, in a gloomy train.

    O! Britain fair, thou Queen of isles!
Nor hostile arms, nor hostile wiles,
Could ever shake thy solid throne,
But for thy sins--thy sins alone,
Can make thee stoop thy royal head,
And lay thee prostrate, with the dead.
In vain Colossal England mows,
With ponderous strength, the yielding foes;
In vain Fair Scotia, by her side,
With courage flushed, and Highland pride,
Whirls her keen blade, with horrid whistle,
And lops off heads, like tops of thistle;
In vain, Brave Erin,* famed, afar,
The flaming thunderbolt of war,
Profuse of life, through blood does wade,
To lend her sister Kingdom, aid:
Our conquering thunders, vainly roar,
Terrific, round the Gallic shore;
Profoundest statesman, vainly scheme,
'Tis all, a vain delusive dream,
If, treacherously, within our breast,
We foster sin, the deadly pest.

    Where Sin abounds Religion dies,
And Virtue seeks her native skies;
Chaste Conscience, hides for very shame,
And Honour's but an empty name.
Then, like a flood, with fearful din,
A gloomy host, comes pouring in.
First, Bribery, with her golden shield,
Leads smooth Corruption o'er the field;
Dissension wild, with brandished spear,
And Anarchy, brings up the rear:
Whilst Care, and Sorrow, Grief, and Pain,
Run howling o'er the bloody plain.

    O, Thou, whose power, resistless fills
The boundless whole, avert these ills
We richly merit: purge away
The sins which on our vitals prey;
Protect with thine almighty shield,
Our conquering arms, by flood, and field,
Wheel round the time, when peace shall smile
O'er Britain's highly-favoured Isle;
When all, shall loud hosannas sing,
To Thee, the Great Eternal King!

    But hark! the bleak, loud whistling wind–
Its crushing blast, recalls to mind,
The dangers of the troubled deep;
Where, with a fierce, and thundering sweep,
The winds in wild distraction rave,
And push along the mountain wave
With dreadful swell, and hideous curl!
Whilst hung aloft, in giddy whirl,
Or dropt beneath the ocean's bed,
The leaky bark, without a shred
Of rigging, sweeps through dangers dread.
The flaring beacon points the way
And fast, the pumps loud clanking play:
It 'vails not--hark! with crashing shock,
She's shivered 'gainst the solid rock,
Or by the fierce, incessant waves,
Is beaten to a thousand staves;
Or, bilging at her crazy side,
Admits the thundering hostile tide,
And down she sinks!--triumphant rave
The winds, and close her wat'ry grave!

    The merchant's care, and toil, are vain,
His hopes lie buried in the main--
In vain the mother's tearful eye,
Looks for its sole remaining joy–
In vain fair Susan walks the shore,
And sighs for him she'll see no more--
For deep they lie in Ocean's womb,
And fester in a wat'ry tomb.

    Now, from the frothy, thundering main,
My meditations, seek the plain,
Where, with a swift fantastic flight,
They scour the regions of the night,
Free, as the winds that wildly blow
O'er hill and dale, the blinding snow,
Or, through the woods, their frolics play,
And whirling, sweep the dusty way;
When summer shines with burning glare,
And sportive breezes skim the air,
And Ocean's glassy breast is fanned
To softest curl, by Zephyr bland.

    But Summer's gone, and Winter here,
With iron sceptre rules the year–
Beneath this dark, inclement sky,
How many wanderers faint and die!
One, flouncing o'er the treacherous snow,
Sinks in the pit that yawns below!
Another numbed; with panting lift,
Inhales the suffocating drift!
And creeping cold, with stiffening force,
Extends a third, a pallid corse!

    Thus death, in varied dreadful form,
Triumphant, rides along the storm:
With shocking scenes assails the sight,
And makes more sad, the dismal night!
How blest the man, whose lot is free
From such distress and misery;
Who sitting by his blazing fire,
Is closely wrapped in warm attire;
Whose sparkling glasses, blush with wine,
Of mirthful might, and flavour fine;
Whose house compact, and strong, defies
The rigour of the angry skies!
The ruffling winds, may blow their last,
And snows come driving on the blast;
And frosts their icy morsels fling,
But all within is mild as spring!

    How blest is he!--blest did I say?
E'en sorrow here oft finds its way.
The senses numbed by frequent use
Of criminal, absurd abuse
Of heaven's blessings; listless grow,
And life is but a dream of woe.

    Oft fostered on the lap of ease,
Grow racking pain, and foul disease,
And nervous whims, a ghastly train,
Inflicting more than corpor'al pain:
Oft, gold, and shining pedigree,
Prove only splendid misery.
The king who sits upon his throne,
And calls the kneeling world his own,
Has, oft, of cares a greater load,
Than he who feels his iron rod.

    No state is free from care, and pain,
Where fiery passions, get the rein,
Or, soft indulgence, joined with ease,
Beget a thousand ills to teaze:
Where fair Religion, heavenly maid,
Has slighted still, her offered aid.
Her matchless power, the will subdues,
And gives the judgment, clearer views:
Denies no source of real pleasure,
And yields us blessings out of measure;
Our prospect brightens, proves our stay,
December turns to smiling May;
Conveys us to that peaceful shore,
By raging billows lashed no more,
Where endless happiness remains,
And one eternal summer reigns.

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*Erin, is the poetical name for Ireland.[Brontė's note; return to text]