Robert and Richard by Hannah More
ROBERT AND RICHARD
OR, THE GHOST OF POOR MOLLY
WHO WAS DROWNED IN RICHARD’S MILL-POND
By Hannah More
Quoth Richard to Bob, “Let things go as they will,
Of pleasure and fun I will still have my fill;
In frolic and mirth I see nothing amiss,
And, though I get tipsy, what harm is in this?
“For e’en Solomon says,—and I vow he says truth,—
‘Rejoice, O young man, in the days of thy youth.’”
“I’m glad,” answered Bob, “you’re of Solomon’s creed;
But I beg, if you quote him, you’ll please to proceed;
“For ‘God (as the wise man continues to sing)
Thy soul into judgment for all this will bring.’
Thus a man may get plunged in a woeful abyss,
By choosing to say, Pray, what harm is in this?”
“Come, come,” says gay Richard, “don’t grudge me a cup;
I’m resolved, while I’m able, I’ll still keep it up;
Let old graybeards deny that in frolic there’s bliss,
I’ll game, love, and drink—and what harm is in this?”
Says Robert, “I grant, if you live for today,
You may game, love, and drink, and may frolic away;
But then, my dear Dick, I again must contend,
That the wise man has bid us—remember the end!”
Says Richard, “When sickness or peevish old age
Shall advance, to dismiss me from life’s merry stage,
Repentance just then, boy, may not be amiss,
But while young I’ll be jolly—what harm is in this?”
They parted; and Richard his pastimes begun—
’Twas Richard the jovial, the soul of all fun;
Each dancing-bout, drinking-bout, Dick would attend,
And he sung and he swore, nor once thought of the end.
Young Molly he courted, the pride of the plain;
He promised her marriage, but promised in vain;
She trusted his vows, but she soon was undone,
And when she lamented, he thought it good fun.
Thus scorned by her Richard, sad Molly ran wild,
And roamed through the woods with her destitute child;
Till Molly and Molly’s poor baby were found,
One evening, in Richard’s own mill-pond both drowned.
Then his conscience grew troubled by night and by day,
But its clamor he drowned in more drink and more play;
Still Robert exhorted, and, like a true friend,
He warned him, and prayed him to think on the end!
Now disturbed in his dreams, poor Molly, each night,
With her babe stood before him—how sad was the sight!
O how ghastly she looked as she bade him attend,
And so awfully told him, “Remember the end!”
She talked of the woes and unquenchable fire
Which await the licentious, the drunkard, and liar:
How he ruined more maidens, she bade him beware;
Then she wept, and she groaned, and she vanished in air.
Now beggared by gaming, distempered by drink,
Death stared in his face, yet he dared not to think;
Despairing of mercy, despising all truth,
He died of old age in the prime of his youth.
On his tomb-stone good Robert these verses engraved,
Which he hoped some gay fellow might read and be saved:—
Here lies a poor youth, who called drinking his bliss,
And was ruined by saying, What harm is in this?
Let each passer-by to his error attend,
And learn of poor Dick to remember the end!