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TO SIR GEORGE HOWLAND BEAUMONT, BART.
From the South-west Coast of Cumberland.--1811.
Far from our home by Grasmere's quiet Lake, From the Vale's peace which all her fields
partake, Here on the bleakest point of Cumbria's shore We sojourn stunned by Ocean's ceaseless roar; While, day by day, grim neighbour! huge Black
Comb Frowns deepening visibly his native gloom, Unless, perchance rejecting in despite What on the Plain we have of warmth and light, In his own storms he hides himself from sight. Rough is the time; and thoughts, that would
be free From heaviness, oft fly, dear Friend, to thee; Turn from a spot where neither sheltered road Nor hedge-row screen invites my steps abroad; Where one poor Plane-tree, having as it might Attained a stature twice a tall man's height, 15 Hopeless of further growth, and brown and sere Through half the summer, stands with top cut
sheer, Like an unshifting weathercock which proves How cold the quarter that the wind best loves, Or like a Centinel that, evermore
Darkening the window, ill defends the door
And oft a Prisoner in the cheerless place,
Without reserve to those whom we love well-
What shall I treat of ? News from Mona's Isle? No tales of Runagates fresh landed, whence And wherefore fugitive or on what pretence; Of feasts, or scandal, eddying like the wind Most restlessly alive when most confined. Ask not of me, whose tongue can best appease The mighty tumults of the HOUSE OF KEYS; 66 The last year's cup whose Ram or Heifer gained, What slopes are planted, or what mosses drained: An eye of fancy only can I cast On that proud pageant now at hand or past, 70 When full five hundred boats in trim array, With nets and sails outspreadand streamers gay, And chanted hymns and stiller voice of prayer, For the old Manx-harvest to the Deep repair, Soon as the herring-shoals at distance shine 75 Like beds of moonlight shifting on the brine.
Mona from our Abode is daily seen, But with a wilderness of waves between; And by conjecture only can we speak Of aught transacted there in bay or creek; 80 No tidings reach us thence from town or field, Only faint news her mountain sunbeams yield, And some we gather from the misty air, And some the hovering clouds, our telegraph,
declare. But these poetic mysteries I withhold; For Fancy hath her fits both hot and cold, And should the colder fit with You be on When You might read, my credit would be gone.
Let more substantial themes the pen engage, And nearer interests culled from the opening
stage Of our migration.-Ere the welcome dawn Had from the east her silver star withdrawn, The Wain stood ready, at our Cottage-door, Thoughtfully freighted with a various store; And long or ere the uprising of the Sun O'er dew-damped dust our journey was begun, A needful journey, under favouring skies, Through peopled Vales; yet something in the
guise Of those old Patriarchs when from well to well They roamed through Wastes where now the
tented Arabs dwell.
Say first, to whom did we the charge confide, Who promptly undertook the Wain to guide Up many a sharply-twining road and down, And over many a wide hill's craggy crown, Through the quick turns of many a hollow
nook, And the rough bed of manyan unbridged brook? A blooming Lass—who in her better hand Bore a light switch, her sceptre of command When, yet a slender Girl, she often led,
109 Skilful and bold, the horse and burthened sledi From the peat-yielding Moss on Gowdar's head. What could go wrong with such a Charioteer For goods and chattels, or those Infants dear, A Pair who smilingly sat side by side, Our hope confirming that the salt-sea tide, 115 Whose free embraces we were bound to seek, Would their lost strength restore and freshen
the pale cheek?
1 A local word for sledge.
Such hope did either Parent entertain
Blithe hopes and happy musings soon took
flight, For lo! an uncouth melancholy sightOn a green bank a creature stood forlorn Just half protruded to the light of morn, Its hinder part concealed by hedge-row thorn. The Figure called to mind a beast of prey 125 Stript of its frightful powers by slow decay, And, though no longer upon rapine bent, Dim memory keeping of its old intent. We started, looked again with anxious eyes, And in that griesly object recognise The Curate's Dog-his long-tried friend, for
they, As well we knew, together had grown grey. The Master died, his drooping servant's grief Found at the Widow's feet some sad relief; Yet still he lived in pining discontent, Sadness which no indulgence could prevent; Hence whole day wanderings, broken nightly
sleeps And lonesome watch that out of doors he keeps; Not oftentimes, I trust, as we, poor brute ! Espied him on his legs sustained, blank, mute, And of all visible motion destitute, So that the very heaving of his breath Seemed stopt, though by some other power than
death. Long as we gazed upon the form and face, A mild domestic pity kept its place, Unscared by thronging fancies of strange hue That haunted us in spite of what we knew. Even now I sometimes think of him as lost In second-sight appearances, or crost