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In the sweet shire of Devon.
Those are the bells.

Wilt go to church, John ?

JOHN. I have been there already.

MARGARET. How can'st say thou hast been there already? The bells are only now ringing for morning service, and hast thou been at church already?

JOHN. I left my bed betimes, I could not sleep, And when I rose, I look'd (as my custom is) From my chamber window, where I can see the

sun rise ; And the first object I discern’d Was the glistering spire of St. Mary Ottery.

MARGARET. Well, John.

JOHN. Then I remember'd 'twas the sabbath-day, Immediately a wish arose in my mind, To go to church and pray with Christian people. And then I check'd myself, and said to myself, 6 Thou hast been a heathen, John, these two (Not having been at church in all that time,) And is it fit, that now for the first time Thou should'st offend the eyes of Christian

years past,

“ people “ With a murderer's presence in the house of

prayer? " Thou would'st but discompose their pious

“ thoughts, “ And do thyself no good : for how could'st

“ thou pray,

With unwash'd hands, and lips unus'd to the

« offices ?And then I at my own presumption smiled ; And then I wept that I should smile at all, Having such cause of grief! I wept outright; Tears like a river flooded all my face, And I began to pray, and found I could pray ; And still I yearn’d to say my prayers in the

church. “ Doubtless (said I) one might find comfort in it.” So stealing down the stairs, like one that fear'd

detection, Or was about to act unlawful business At that dead time of dawn, I flew to the church, and found the doors wide open,

(Whether by negligence I knew not,
Or some peculiar grace to me vouchsaf'd,
For all things felt like mystery).


JOHN. So entering in, not without fear, I past into the family pew, And covering up my eyes for shame, And deep perception of unworthiness, Upon the little hassock knelt me down, Where I so oft had kneel’d, A docile infant by Sir Walter's side; And, thinking so, I wept a second flood More poignant than the first; But afterwards was greatly comforted. It seem'd, the guilt of blood was passing from me Even in the act and agony of tears, And all my sins forgiven.




Seventeenth Century.

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