"Alas, alas! oh what have I done?
1782.-----THE CHOSEN CLIFF.
Then in calm accents replied the son, with gravity speaking"Whether I've laudably acted, I know not; I follow'd the impulseOf my own heart, as now I'll proceed to describe with exactness.Mother, you rummaged so long, in looking over old pieces,And in making your choice, that 'twas late when the bundle was ready,And the wine and the beer were slowly and carefully pack'd up.When I at length emerged at the gate, and came on the highway,Streams of citizens met I returning, with women and children,For the train of the exiles had long disappear'd in the distance.So I quicken'd my pace, and hastily drove to the villageWhere I had heard that to-night to rest and to sleep they intended.Well, as I went on my way, the newly-made causeway ascending,Suddenly saw I a waggon, of excellent timber constructed,Drawn by a couple of oxen, the best and the strongest of foreign.Close beside it there walk'd, with sturdy footsteps, a maiden,Guiding the two strong beasts with a long kind of staff, which with skill sheKnew how to use, now driving, and now restraining their progress.When the maiden observed me, she quietly came near the horses,And address'd me as follows:--'Our usual condition, believe me,Is not so sad as perchance you might judge from our present appearance.I am not yet accustom'd to ask for alms from a stranger,Who so often but gives, to rid himself of a beggar.But I'm compell'd to speak by necessity. Here on the straw nowLies the lately-confined poor wife of a wealthy landowner,Whom with much trouble I managed to save with oxen and waggon.We were late in arriving, and scarcely with life she escaped.Now the newly-born child in her arms is lying, all naked,And our friends will be able to give them but little assistance,E'en if in the next village, to which to-night we are going,We should still find them, although I fear they have left it already.If you belong to the neighbourhood, any available linenThese poor people will deem a most acceptable present.
But the excellent maiden, by words of such irony wounded,(As she esteem'd them to be) and deeply distress'd in her spirit,Stood, while a passing flush from her cheeks as far as her neck wasSpreading, but she restrain'd herself, and collected her thoughts soon;Then to the old man she said, not fully concealing her sorrow"Truly I was not prepared by your son for such a reception,When he described his father's nature,--that excellent burgher,And I know I am standing before you, a person of culture,Who behaves himself wisely to all, in a suitable manner.But it would seem that you feel not pity enough for the poor thingWho has just cross'd your threshold, prepared to enter your serviceElse you would not seek to point out, with ridicule bitter,How far removed my lot from your son's and that of yourself is.True, with a little bundle, and poor, I have enter'd your dwelling,Which it is the owner's delight to furnish with all things.But I know myself well, and feel the whole situation.Is it generous thus to greet me with language so jeering,Which was well nigh expelled me the house, when just on the threshold?"
What are pain and rapture now?Blissful Peace,
To Thee we may
If thou wouldst possess the fruit!Fast begin to ripen these,
WHO never eat with tears his bread,
And so that prize was gain'd.
Through my mother's sick-bed phantasy.
Him ne'er hoped to see again.