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Could never keep those boys away from church,
Or sempt them to an hour of sabbath breach.
Leonard and James! I warrant, every corner
Among these rocks, and every hollow place
That venturous foot could reach, to one or both
Was known as well as to the flowers that grow
Like roe-bucks they went bounding o'er the hills;
They played like two young ravens on the crags:
Then they could write, ay and speak too, as well
As many of their betters-and for Leonard!
The very night before he went away,
In my own house I put into his hand
A bible, and I'd wager house and field
That, if he be alive, he has it yet.
Leonard. It seems, these Brothers have not lived
Live to such end is what both old and young
In this our valley all of us have wished,
And what, for my part, I have often prayed:
Leonard. Then James still is left among you!
Priest. "Tis of the elder brother I am speaking:
They had an uncle; he was at that time
A thriving man, and trafficked on the seas:
And, but for that same uncle, to this hour
Leonard had never handled rope or shroud:
For the boy loved the life which we lead here;
And though of unripe years, a stripling only,
His soul was knit to this his native soil.
But, as I said, old Walter was too weak
To strive with such a torrent; when he died,
The estate and house were sold; and all their sheep,
A pretty flock, and which, for aught I know,
Had clothed the Ewbanks for a thousand years:-
Well-all was gone, and they were destitute,
And Leonard, chiefly for his Brother's sake,
Resolved to try his fortune on the seas.
Twelve years are past since we had tidings from him.
If there were one among us who had heard
That Leonard Ewbank was come home again,
From the Great Gavel*, down by Leeza's banks,
And down the Enna, far as Egremont,
The day would be a joyous festival;
*The Great Gavel, so called, I imagine, from its resemblance to the gable end of a house, is one of the highest of the Cumberland mountains. It stands at the head of the several vales of Ennerdale, Wastdale, and Borrowdale.
The Leeza is a river which flows into the Lake of Ennerdale: on issuing from the Lake, it changes its name, and is called the End, Eyne, or Enna. It falls into the sea a little below Egremont.
And those two bells of ours, which there you see-
Hanging in the open air-but, O good Sir !
This is sad talk-they'll never sound for him-
Living or dead.-When last we heard of him,
He was in slavery among the Moors
Upon the Barbary coast.-'Twas not a little
That would bring down his spirit; and no doubt,
Before it ended in his death, the Youth
Was sadly crossed.-Poor Leonard! when we parted,
He took me by the hand, and said to me,
If e'er he should grow rich, he would return,
To live in peace upon his father's land,
And lay his bones among us.
He was the child of all the dale-he lived
Three months with one, and six months with another;
And wanted neither food, nor clothes, nor love :
And many, many happy days were his.
But, whether blithe or sad, 'tis my belief
His absent Brother still was at his heart.
And, when he dwelt beneath our roof, we found
(A practice till this time unknown to him)
That often, rising from his bed at night,
He in his sleep would walk about, and sleeping
He sought his brother Leonard.-You are moved!
Forgive me, Sir: before I spoke to you,
I judged you most unkindly.
How did he die at last?
(It will be twelve years since when Spring returns)
He had gone forth among the new-dropped lambs,
With two or three companions, whom their course
Of occupation led from height to height
Under a cloudless sun-till he, at length,
Through weariness, or, haply, to indulge
The humour of the moment, lagged behind.
You see yon precipice ;-it wears the shape
Of a vast building made of many crags;
And in the midst is one particular rock
That rises like a column from the vale,
Whence by our shepherds it is called, THE PILLAR.
Upon its aëry summit crowned with heath,
The loiterer, not unnoticed by his comrades,
Lay stretched at ease; but, passing by the place
On their return, they found that he was gone.
No ill was feared; till one of them by chance
Entering, when evening was far spent, the house
Which at that time was James's home, there learned
That nobody had seen him all that day:
The morning came, and still he was unheard of:
The neighbours were alarmed, and to the brook
Some hastened; some ran to the lake: ere noon
They found him at the foot of that same rock
Dead, and with mangled limbs. The third day after
I buried him, poor Youth, and there he lies!
Leonard. And that then is his grave!-Before
You say that he saw many happy years?
Priest. Ay, that he did--
And all went well with him?—
Priest. If he had one, the youth had twenty homes. Leonard. And you believe, then, that his mind was easy?—
Priest. Yes, long before he died, he found that time
Is a true friend to sorrow; and unless
His thoughts were turned on Leonard's luckless
He talked about him with a cheerful love.
Leonard. He could not come to an unhallowed
Priest. Nay, God forbid !-You recollect I
A habit which disquietude and grief
Had brought upon him; and we all conjectured
That, as the day was warm, he had lain down
On the soft heath,-and, waiting for his comrades,
He there had fallen asleep; that in his sleep
He to the margin of the precipice
Had walked, and from the summit had fallen
And so no doubt he perished. When the Youth
Fell, in his hand he must have grasp'd, we think,
His shepherd's staff; for on that Pillar of rock
It had been caught mid way; and there for years
It hung;--and mouldered there.
The Priest here endedThe Stranger would have thanked him, but he felt A gushing from his heart, that took away The power of speech. Both left the spot in silence; And Leonard, when they reached the church-yard
As the Priest lifted up the latch, turned round,—
And, looking at the grave, he said, " My Brother!"
The Vicar did not hear the words: and now,
He pointed towards his dwelling-place, entreating
That Leonard would partake his homely fare :
The other thanked him with an earnest voice;
But added, that, the evening being calm,
He would pursue his journey. So they parted.
It was not long ere Leonard reached a grove That overhung the road: he there stopped short, And, sitting down beneath the trees, reviewed All that the Priest had said: his early years Were with him :-his long absence, cherished hopes, And thoughts which had been his an hour before, All pressed on him with such a weight, that now, This vale, where he had been so happy, seemed A place in which he could not bear to live: So he relinquished all his purposes. He travelled back to Egremont and thence, That night, he wrote a letter to the Priest, Reminding him of what had passed between them; And adding, with a hope to be forgiven, That it was from the weakness of his heart He had not dared to tell him who he was. This done, he went on shipboard, and is now A Seaman, a grey-headed Mariner.
SEE THE CHRONICLE OF GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH AND MILTON'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND)
WHERE be the temples which, in Britain's Isle,
For his paternal Gods, the Trojan raised?
Gone like a morning dream, or like a pile
Of clouds that in cerulean ether blazed!
Ere Julius landed on her white-cliffed shore,
They sank, delivered o'er
To fatal dissolution; and, I ween,
No vestige then was left that such had ever been.
Nathless, a British record (long concealed
In old Armorica, whose secret springs
No Gothic conqueror ever drank) revealed
The marvellous current of forgotten things;
How Brutus came, by oracles impelled,
And Albion's giants quelled,
A brood whom no civility could melt,
'Who never tasted grace, and goodness ne'er had felt.'
By brave Corineus aided, he subdued,
And rooted out the intolerable kind;
And this too-long-polluted land imbued
With goodly arts and usages refined;
Whence golden harvests, cities, warlike towers,
And pleasure's sumptuous bowers;
Whence all the fixed delights of house and home,
Friendships that will not break, and love that can-
O, happy Britain! region all too fair
For self-delighting fancy to endure
That silence only should inhabit there,
Wild beasts, or uncouth savages impure!
But, intermingled with the generous seed,
Grew many a poisonous weed;
Thus fares it still with all that takes its birth
From human care, or grows upon the breast of earth.
Hence, and how soon! that war of vengeance waged
By Guendolen against her faithless lord;
Till she, in jealous fury unassuaged
Had slain his paramour with ruthless sword:
Then, into Severn hideously defiled,
She flung her blameless child,
Sabrina,-vowing that the stream should bear
That name through every age, her hatred to declare.
So speaks the Chronicle, and tells of Lear
By his ungrateful daughters turned adrift.
Ye lightnings, hear his voice!—they cannot hear,
Nor can the winds restore his simple gift.
But One there is, a Child of nature meek,
Who comes her Sire to seek ;
And he, recovering sense, upon her breast
Leans smilingly, and sinks into a perfect rest.
There too we read of Spenser's fairy themes,
And those that Milton loved in youthful years;
The sage enchanter Merlin's subtle schemes;
The feats of Arthur and his knightly peers;
Of Arthur,-who, to upper light restored,
With that terrific sword
Which yet he brandishes for future war,
Shall lift his country's fame above the polar star!
That, in the gracious opening of thy reign,
Our father's spirit seemed in thee to breathe again.
And what if o'er that bright unbosoming
Clouds of disgrace and envious fortune past!
Have we not seen the glories of the spring
By veil of noontide darkness overcast?
The frith that glittered like a warrior's shield,
The sky, the gay green field,
Are vanished; gladness ceases in the groves,
And trepidation strikes the blackened mountain-
But is that gloom dissolved? how passing clear
Seems the wide world, far brighter than before!
Even so thy latent worth will re-appear,
Gladdening the people's heart from shore to shore;
For youthful faults ripe virtues shall atone;
Re-seated on thy throne,
Proof shalt thou furnish that misfortune, pain, And sorrow, have confirmed thy native right to reign.
But, not to overlook what thou may'st know,
Thy enemies are neither weak nor few;
And circumspect must be our course, and slow,
Or from my purpose ruin may ensue.
Dismiss thy followers;-let them calmly wait
Such change in thy estate
As I already have in thought devised;
And which, with caution due, may soon be realised."
The Story tells what courses were pursued,
Until king Elidure, with full consent
Of all his peers, before the multitude,
Rose, and, to consummate this just intent,
Did place upon his brother's head the crown,
Relinquished by his own;
Then to his people cried, "Receive your lord,
Gorbonian's first-born son, your rightful king
The people answered with a loud acclaim : Yet more;-heart-smitten by the heroic deed, The reinstated Artegal became
Earth's noblest penitent; from bondage freed Of vice-thenceforth unable to subvert
Or shake his high desert.
Long did he reign; and, when he died, the tear Of universal grief bedewed his honoured bier.
Thus was a Brother by a Brother saved; With whom a crown (temptation that hath set Discord in hearts of men till they have braved Their nearest kin with deadly purpose met)