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But now the clear bright Moon her zenith gains,
And, rimy without speck, extend the plains:
The deepest cleft the mountain's front displays
Scarce hides a shadow from her searching rays;
From the dark-blue faint silvery threads divide
The hills, while gleams below the azure tide;
Time softly treads; throughout the landscape
A peace enlivened, not disturbed, by wreaths
Of charcoal-smoke, that o'er the fallen wood,
Steal down the hill, and spread along the flood.
The song of mountain-streams, unheard by day, Now hardly heard, beguiles my homeward way. Air listens, like the sleeping water, still, To catch the spiritual music of the hill, Broke only by the slow clock tolling deep, Or shout that wakes the ferry-man from sleep, The echoed hoof nearing the distant shore, The boat's first motion-made with dashing oar; Sound of closed gate, across the water borne, Hurrying the timid hare through rustling corn; The sportive outcry of the mocking owl ; And at long intervals the mill-dog's howl; The distant forge's swinging thump profound; Or yell, in the deep woods, of lonely hound.
COMPOSED UPON THE THAMES NEAR RICHMOND.
GLIDE gently, thus for ever glide,
O Thames! that other bards may see
As lovely visions by thy side
As now, fair river! come to me.
O glide, fair stream! for ever so,
Thy quiet soul on all bestowing,
Till all our minds for ever flow
As thy deep waters now are flowing.
Vain thought!-Yet be as now thou art,
That in thy waters may be seen
The image of a poet's heart,
How bright, how solemn, how serene !
Such as did once the Poet bless,
Who murmuring here a later ditty,
Could find no refuge from distress
But in the milder grief of pity.
Now let us, as we float along,
For him suspend the dashing oar;
And pray that never child of song
May know that Poet's sorrows more.
How calm! how still! the only sound,
The dripping of the oar suspended!
-The evening darkness gathers round
By virtue's holiest Powers attended.
In inscribing this little work to you, I consult my heart. You know well how great is the difference between two companions lolling in a post-chaise, and two travellers plodding slowly along the road, side by side, each with his little knapsack of necessaries upon his shoulders. How much more of heart between the two latter!
I am happy in being conscious that I shall have one reader who will approach the conclusion of these few pages with regret. You they must certainly interest, in reminding you of moments to which you can hardly look back without a pleasure not the less dear from a shade of melancholy. You will meet with few images without recollecting the spot where we observed them together; consequently, whatever is feeble in my design, or spiritless in my colouring, will be amply supplied by your own memory.
With still greater propriety I might have inscribed to you a description of some of the features of your native mountains, through which we have wandered together, in the same manner, with so much pleasure. But the seasunsets, which give such splendour to the vale of Clwyd, Snowdon, the chair of Idris, the quiet village of Bethgelert, Menai and her Druids, the Alpine steeps of the Conway, and the still more interesting windings of the wizard stream of the Dee, remain yet untouched. Apprehensive that my pencil may never be exercised on these subjects, I cannot let slip this opportunity of thus publicly assuring you with how much affection and esteem
Happiness (if she had been to be found on earth) among the charms of Nature-Pleasures of the pedestrian Traveller-Author crosses France to the Alps--Present state of the Grande Chartreuse-Lake of Como-Time, Sunset-Same Scene, Twilight-Same Scene, Morning; its voluptuous Character; Old man and forest-cottage music-River Tusa-Via Mala and Grison GipsySckellenen-thal-Lake of Uri-Stormy sunset-Chapel of William Tell-Force of local emotion-Chamoischaser-View of the higher Alps-manner of life of a Swiss mountaineer, interspersed with views of the higher Alps-Golden age of the Alps-Life and views continued -Ranz des Vaches, famous Swiss Air-Abbey of Einsiedlen and its pilgrims-Valley of Chamouny-Mont Blanc -Slavery of Savoy-Influence of liberty on cottage-happiness-France-Wish for the Extirpation of slaveryConclusion.
And plods through some wide realm o'er vale and height,
Though seeking only holiday delight;
At least, not owning to himself an aim
To which the sage would give a prouder name.
No gains too cheaply earned his fancy cloy,
Though every passing zephyr whispers joy;
Brisk toil, alternating with ready ease,
Feeds the clear current of his sympathies.
For him sod-seats the cottage-door adorn
And peeps the far-off spire, his evening bourn!
Dear is the forest frowning o'er his head,
And dear the velvet green-sward to his tread:
Moves there a cloud o'er mid-day's flaming eye?
Upward he looks-" and calls it luxury :"
Kind Nature's charities his steps attend ;
In every babbling brook he finds a friend ;
While chastening thoughts of sweetest use, bestowed
By wisdom, moralise his pensive road.
Host of his welcome inn, the noon-tide bower,
To his spare meal he calls the passing poor;
He views the sun uplift his golden fire,
Or sink, with heart alive like Memnon's lyre * ;
Blesses the moon that comes with kindly ray,
To light him shaken by his rugged way.
Back from his sight no bashful children steal;
He sits a brother at the cottage-meal;
His humble looks no shy restraint impart ;
Around him plays at will the virgin heart.
While unsuspended wheels the village dance,
The maidens eye him with enquiring glance,
Much wondering by what fit of crazing care,
Or desperate love, bewildered, he came there.
A hope, that prudence could not then approve,
That clung to Nature with a truant's love,
O'er Gallia's wastes of corn my footsteps led;
Her files of road-elms, high above my head
In long-drawn vista, rustling in the breeze;
Or where her pathways straggle as they please
By lonely farms and secret villages.
But lo! the Alps ascending white in air,
Toy with the sun and glitter from afar.
And now, emerging from the forest's gloom, I greet thee, Chartreuse, while I mourn thy doom. Whither is fled that Power whose frown severe Awed sober Reason till she crouched in fear? That Silence, once in deathlike fetters bound, Chains that were loosened only by the sound Of holy rites chanted in measured round?
The lyre of Memnon is reported to have emitted melancholy or cheerful tones, as it was touched by the sun's evening or morning rays.
-The voice of blasphemy the fane alarms,
The cloister startles at the gleam of arms.
The thundering tube the aged angler hears,
Bent o'er the groaning flood that sweeps away his
Cloud-piercing pine-trees nod their troubled heads, Spires, rocks, and lawns a browner night o'erspreads;
Strong terror checks the female peasant's sighs,
And start the astonished shades at female eyes.
From Bruno's forest screams the affrighted jay,
And slow the insulted eagle wheels away.
A viewless flight of laughing Demons mock
The Cross, by angels planted* on the aerial rock.
The "parting Genius" sighs with hollow breath
Along the mystic streams of Life and Death +.
Swelling the outcry dull, that long resounds
Portentous through her old woods' trackless
Vallombre +, 'mid her falling fanes, deplores, For ever broke, the sabbath of her bowers.
More pleased, my foot the hidden margin roves
Of Como, bosomed deep in chestnut groves.
No meadows thrown between, the giddy steeps
Tower, bare or sylvan, from the narrow deeps.
-To towns, whose shades of no rude noise com-
From ringing team apart and grating wain-
To flat-roofed towns, that touch the water's bound,
Or lurk in woody sunless glens profound,
Or, from the bending rocks, obtrusive cling,
And o'er the whitened wave their shadows fling—
The pathway leads, as round the steeps it twines;
And Silence loves its purple roof of vines.
The loitering traveller hence, at evening, sees
From rock-hewn steps the sail between the trees;
Or marks, 'mid opening cliffs, fair dark-eyed maids
Tend the small harvest of their garden glades;
Or stops the solemn mountain-shades to view
Stretch o'er the pictured mirror broad and blue,
And track the yellow lights from steep to steep,
As up the opposing hills they slowly creep.
Aloft, here, half a village shines, arrayed
In golden light; half hides itself in shade :
While, from amid the darkened roofs, the spire,
Restlessly flashing, seems to mount like fire:
There, all unshaded, blazing forests throw
Rich golden verdure on the lake below.
*Alluding to crosses seen on the tops of the spiry rocks of Chartreuse, which have every appearance of being inaccessible.
Names of rivers at the Chartreuse.
Name of one of the valleys of the Chartreuse.
Slow glides the sail along the illumined shore,
And steals into the shade the lazy oar;
Soft bosoms breathe around contagious sighs,
And amorous music on the water dies.
How blest, delicious scene! the eye that greets Thy open beauties, or thy lone retreats; Beholds the unwearied sweep of wood that scales Thy cliffs; the endless waters of thy vales; Thy lowly cots that sprinkle all the shore, Each with its household boat beside the door; Thy torrents shooting from the clear-blue sky; Thy towns, that cleave, like swallows' nests, on high;
That glimmer hoar in eve's last light, descried Dim from the twilight water's shaggy side, Whence lutes and voices down the enchanted
Steal, and compose the oar-forgotten floods; -Thy lake, that, streaked or dappled, blue or
'Mid smoking woods gleams hid from morning's ray
Slow-travelling down the western hills, to' enfold
Its green-tinged margin in a blaze of gold;
Thy glittering steeples, whence the matin bell
Calls forth the woodman from his desert cell,
And quickens the blithe sound of oars that pass
Along the steaming lake, to early mass.
But now farewell to each and all-adieu
To every charm, and last and chief to you,
Ye lovely maidens that in noontide shade
Rest near your little plots of wheaten glade ;
To all that binds the soul in powerless trance,
Lip-dewing song, and ringlet-tossing dance;
Where sparkling eyes and breaking smiles illume
The sylvan cabin's lute-enlivened gloom.
Alas! the very murmur of the streams Breathes o'er the failing soul voluptuous dreams, While Slavery, forcing the sunk mind to dwell On joys that might disgrace the captive's cell, Her shameless timbrel shakes on Como's marge, And lures from bay to bay the vocal barge.
Yet are thy softer arts with power indued To soothe and cheer the poor man's solitude. By silent cottage-doors, the peasant's home Left vacant for the day, I loved to roam. But once I pierced the mazes of a wood In which a cabin undeserted stood; There an old man an olden measure scanned On a rude viol touched with withered hand. As lambs or fawns in April clustering lie Under a hoary oak's thin canopy, Stretched at his feet, with stedfast upward eye,
His children's children listened to the sound;
-A Hermit with his family around !
But let us hence; for fair Locarno smiles
Embowered in walnut slopes and citron isles :
Or seek at eve the banks of Tusa's stream,
Where, 'mid dim towers and woods, her waters
Or on her fingers counts the distant clock,
Or, to the drowsy crow of midnight cock,
Listens, or quakes while from the forest's gulf
Howls near and nearer yet the famished wolf.
From the green vale of Urseren smooth and wide
Descend we now, the maddened Reuss our guide;
By rocks that, shutting out the blessed day,
Cling tremblingly to rocks as loose as they ;
By cells upon whose image, while he prays,
The kneeling peasant scarcely dares to gaze;
From the bright wave, in solemn gloom, retire
The dull-red steeps, and, darkening still, aspire
To where afar rich orange lustres glow
Round undistinguished clouds, and rocks, and By many a votive death-cross + planted near,
Or, led where Via Mala's chasms confine
The indignant waters of the infant Rhine,
Hang o'er the abyss, whose else impervious gloom
His burning eyes with fearful light illume.
The mind condemned, without reprieve, to go
O'er life's long deserts with its charge of woe,
With sad congratulation joins the train
Where beasts and men together o'er the plain
Move on a mighty caravan of pain:
Hope, strength, and courage, social suffering
Freshening the wilderness with shades and springs.
-There be whose lot far otherwise is cast:
Sole human tenant of the piny waste,
By choice or doom a gipsy wanders here,
A nursling babe her only comforter;
Lo, where she sits beneath yon shaggy rock,
A cowering shape half hid in curling smoke!
When lightning among clouds and mountain
Predominates, and darkness comes and goes,
And the fierce torrent, at the flashes broad
Starts, like a horse, beside the glaring road—
She seeks a covert from the battering shower
In the roofed bridge † ; the bridge, in that dread
Itself all trembling at the torrent's power.
Nor is she more at ease on some still night,
When not a star supplies the comfort of its light;
Only the waning moon hangs dull and red
Above a melancholy mountain's head,
Then sets. In total gloom the Vagrant sighs,
Stoops her sick head, and shuts her weary eyes;
*The river along whose banks you descend in crossing the Alps by the Simplon Pass.
Most of the bridges among the Alps are of wood, and covered: these bridges have a heavy appearance, and rather injure the effect of the scenery in some places.
And watered duly with the pious tear,
That faded silent from the upward eye
Unmoved with each rude form of peril nigh;
Fixed on the anchor left by Him who saves
Alike in whelming snows, and roaring waves.
But soon a peopled region on the sight
Opens a little world of calm delight;
Where mists, suspended on the expiring gale,
Spread rooflike o'er the deep secluded vale,
And beams of evening slipping in between,
Gently illuminate a sober scene :—
Here, on the brown wood-cottages they sleep,
There, over rock or sloping pasture creep.
On as we journey, in clear view displayed,
The still vale lengthens underneath its shade
Of low-hung vapour : on the freshened mead
The green light sparkles;-the dim bowers recede.
While pastoral pipes and streams the landscape lull,
And bells of passing mules that tinkle dull,
In solemn shapes before the admiring eye
Dilated hang the misty pines on high,
Huge convent domes with pinnacles and towers,
And antique castles seen through gleamy showers.
From such romantic dreams, my soul, awake!
To sterner pleasure, where, by Uri's lake
In Nature's pristine majesty outspread,
Winds neither road nor path for foot to tread :
The rocks rise naked as a wall, or stretch,
Far o'er the water, hung with groves of beech
Aerial pines from loftier steeps ascend,
Nor stop but where creation seems to end.
Yet here and there, if mid the savage scene
Appears a scanty plot of smiling green,
*The Catholic religion prevails here: these cells are, as is well known, very common in the Catholic countries, planted, like the Roman tombs, along the road side.
† Crosses, commemorative of the deaths of travellers by the fall of snow, and other accidents, are very common along this dreadful road.
The houses in the more retired Swiss valleys are all built of wood.
Up from the lake a zigzag path will creep
To reach a small wood-hut hung boldly on the steep.
-Before those thresholds (never can they know
The face of traveller passing to and fro,)
No peasant leans upon his pole, to tell
For whom at morning tolled the funeral bell;
Their watch-dog ne'er his angry bark foregoes,
Touched by the beggar's moan of human woes;
The shady porch ne'er offered a cool seat
To pilgrims overcome by summer's heat.
Yet thither the world's business finds its way
At times, and tales unsought beguile the day,
And there are those fond thoughts which Solitude,
However stern, is powerless to exclude.
There doth the maiden watch her lover's sail
Approaching, and upbraid the tardy gale;
At midnight listens till his parting oar,
And its last echo, can be heard no more.
And what if ospreys, cormorants, herons cry,
Amid tempestuous vapours driving by,
Or hovering over wastes too bleak to rear
That common growth of earth, the foodful ear;
Where the green apple shrivels on the spray,
And pines the unripened pear in summer's kindliest
Contentment shares the desolate domain
With Independence, child of high Disdain.
Exulting 'mid the winter of the skies,
Shy as the jealous chamois, Freedom flies,
And grasps by fits her sword, and often eyes;
And sometimes, as from rock to rock she bounds
The Patriot nymph starts at imagined sounds,
And, wildly pausing, oft she hangs aghast,
Whether some old Swiss air hath checked her haste
Or thrill of Spartan fife is caught between the blast.
Swoln with incessant rains from hour to hour,
All day the floods a deepening murmur pour :
The sky is veiled, and every cheerful sight:
Dark is the region as with coming night;
But what a sudden burst of overpowering light!
Triumphant on the bosom of the storm,
Glances the wheeling eagle's glorious form!
Eastward, in long perspective glittering, shine
The wood-crowned cliffs that o'er the lake recline;
Those lofty cliffs a hundred streams unfold,
At once to pillars turned that flame with gold:
Behind his sail the peasant shrinks, to shun
The west, that burns like one dilated sun,
A crucible of mighty compass, felt
By mountains, glowing till they seem to melt.
But, lo! the boatman, overawed, before The pictured fane of Teli suspends his oar;
Confused the Marathonian tale appears,
While his eyes sparkle with heroic tears.
And who, that walks where men of ancient days
Have wrought with godlike arm the deeds of praise
Feels not the spirit of the place control,
Or rouse and agitate his labouring soul?
Say, who, by thinking on Canadian hills,
Or wild Aosta lulled by Alpine rills,
On Zutphen's plain; or on that highland dell,
Through which rough Garry cleaves his way, can tell
What high resolves exalt the tenderest thought
Of him whom passion rivets to the spot,
Where breathed the gale that caught Wolfe's hap-
And the last sunbeam fell on Bayard's eye;
Where bleeding Sidney from the cup retired,
And glad Dundee in "faint huzzas" expired?
But now with other mind I stand alone Upon the summit of this naked cone, And watch the fearless chamois-hunter chase His prey, through tracts abrupt of desolate space, *Through vacant worlds where Nature never gave A brook to murmur or a bough to wave, Which unsubstantial Phantoms sacred keep; Thro' worlds where Life, and Voice, and Motion sleep;
Where silent Hours their death-like sway extend, Save when the avalanche breaks loose, to rend Its way with uproar, till the ruin, drowned In some dense wood or gulf of snow profound, Mocks the dull ear of Time with deaf abortive sound.
'Tis his, while wandering on from height to height,
To see a planet's pomp and steady light
In the least star of scarce-appearing night;
While the pale moon moves near him, on the bound
Of ether, shining with diminished round,
And far and wide the icy summits blaze,
Rejoicing in the glory of her rays:
To him the day-star glitters small and bright,
Shorn of its beams, insufferably white,
And he can look beyond the sun, and view
Those fast-receding depths of sable blue
Flying till vision can no more pursue!
-At once bewildering mists around him close,
And cold and hunger are his least of woes;
The Demon of the snow, with angry roar
Descending, shuts for aye his prison door.
Soon with despair's whole weight his spirits sink ;
*For most of the images in the next sixteen verses, 1 am indebted to M. Raymond's interesting observations annexed to his translation of Coxe's Tour in Switzerland.