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POEMS.

THE EPIC.

At Francis Allen's on the Christmas-eve,—
The game of forfeits done—the girls all kiss’d
Beneath the sacred bush and past away-
The parson Holmes, the poet Everard Hall,
The host, and I sat round the wassail-bowl,
Then half-way ebb’d: and there we held a talk,
How all the old honour had from Christmas gone,
Or gone, or dwindled down to some odd games
In some odd nooks like this ; till I, tired out
With cutting eights that day upon the pond,
Where, three times slipping from the outer edge,

VOL. II.

I bump'd the ice into three several stars,
Fell in a doze; and half-awake I heard
The parson taking wide and wider sweeps,
Now harping on the church-commissioners,
Now hawking at Geology and schism;
Until I woke, and found him settled down
Upon the general decay of faith
Right thro’ the world, “at home was little left,
And none abroad : there was no anchor, none,
To hold by.” Francis, laughing, clapt his hand
On Everard's shoulder, with “ I hold by him.”
“And I,” quoth Everard, “ by the wassail-bowl.”
“Why yes,” I said, “we knew your gift that way
At college : but another which you had,
I mean of verse (for so we held it then,)
What came of that?” “You know,” said Frank, “he fung
His epic of King Arthur in the fire !”
And then to me demanding why? “Oh, sir,
He thought that nothing new was said, or else
Something so said 'twas nothing—that a truth
Looks freshest in the fashion of the day:
God knows : he has a mint of reasons : ask.

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