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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1800.5
The Generous Soldier
Anon
The Universal Magazine, CVII (November 1800), pp. 374-375

An Anecdote by Mr. Booker.

Beside a path, worn bare by frequent feet,
Sat—shiv'ring in the blast—an hoary wretch,
On whose quench'd eye-balls the meridian sun
Wasted its beams. A weather-beaten cap
He, silent, held; and left his piteous case
To tongue his woes. But few more falt'ring
                        steps,
Thro' the dark world, he lonely had to tread,
And then find shelter in the peaceful grave.
—Speechless he sat; but sat not long, in vain.
A brave defender of old England's isle
Cane where he was; and, with observant eye,
Beheld and pitied him. On furlough bent,
A knapsack o'er his belted shoulders lay,
Containing his attire—soon told; small wealth
He boasted else; yet, of that little, cast
A lib'ral portion to the suppliant old.—
Unseen, he ween'd, by ev'ry mortal eye,
Sat one, not less with admiration touch'd
Than he with pity, saw the gen'rous deed,
And thus him instant hail'd: 'Well pleas'd,
                        brave youth,
Witness'd have I thy bounty; which but ill
A soldier's purse can spare—Allay me thus
Such goodness to requite: be this thy mead.'
He said—presenting, with his courteous speech,
A piece of silver. Grateful, this, receiv'd
The youthful warrior, and, receding straight,
The splendid coin bestow'd where late he threw
His former off'ring: then the doner kind
Accosted thus—'Forgive, too gen'rous sir!
My rude appropriation of thy gift,
Which that poor suff'rer's wants more urgent
                        need,
Than do my own.'—This said, he hied away-
Swift, as if marching to the battle's call,
Debarring further converse; or afraid
To hear the voice of praise. Unknown, he fled,
Defeating ev'ry purpose to promote
Him in the martial ranks which Freedom's isle
Guard from each hostile arm.—But where pale
                        want
Compassion's willing mite no more shall claim,
The King of kings near his eternal throne
Will place the Christian-hero: for the deed
Approving spirits, on aerial wing,
To heav'n's high chancery, delighted, bore;
And the recording angel it inscrib'd
On monumental adamant and gold,
In glorious characters of living light,
Bright as the sun, and purer than his fires.


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Published @ RC

September 2004