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The Author describes his travels with the Wanderer, whose character is further illustrated.-Morning scene, and view of a Village Wake.-Wanderer's account of a Friend whom he purposes to visit.View, from an eminence, of the Valley which his Friend had chosen for his retreat.-Sound of singing from below. A funeral procession.-Descent into the Valley. Observations drawn from the Wanderer at sight of a book accidentally discovered in a recess in the Valley.-Meeting with the Wanderer's friend, the Solitary.-Wanderer's description of the mode of burial in this mountainous district.-Solitary contrasts with this, that of the individual carried a few minutes before from the cottage. The cottage entered.-Description of the Solitary's apartment. Repast there.View, from the window, of two mountain summits; and the Solitary's description of the companionship they afford him.-Account of the departed inmate of the cottage.-Description of a grand spectacle upon the mountains, with its effect upon the Solitary's mind.-Leave the house.
IN days of yore how fortunately fared
The Minstrel! wandering on from hall to hall,
Baronial court or royal; cheered with gifts
Munificent, and love, and ladies' praise;
Now meeting on his road an armed knight,
Now resting with a pilgrim by the side
Of a clear brook;-beneath an abbey's roof
One evening sumptuously lodged; the next,
Humbly in a religious hospital;
Or with some merry outlaws of the wood;
Or haply shrouded in a hermit's cell.
Him, sleeping or awake, the robber spared;
He walked-protected from the sword of war
By virtue of that sacred instrument
His harp, suspended at the traveller's side; 15
His dear companion wheresoe'er he went
Opening from land to land an easy way
By melody, and by the charm of verse.
Yet not the noblest of that honoured Race
Drew happier, loftier, more empassioned,
From his long journeyings and eventful life,
Than this obscure Itinerant had skill
To gather, ranging through the tamer ground Of these our unimaginative days;
Both while he trod the earth in humblest guise Accoutred with his burthen and his staff; 26 And now, when free to move with lighter pace.
What wonder, then, if I, whose favourite school
Hath been the fields, the roads, and rural lanes,
Looked on this guide with reverential love? 30
Each with the other pleased, we now pursued
Our journey, under favourable skies.
Turn wheresoe'er we would, he was a light
Unfailing: not a hamlet could we pass,
Rarely a house, that did not yield to him
Remembrances; or from his tongue call forth
Some way-beguiling tale. Nor less regard
Accompanied those strains of apt discourse,
Which nature's various objects might inspire;
And in the silence of his face I read
His overflowing spirit. Birds and beasts,
And the mute fish that glances in the stream,
And harmless reptile coiling in the sun,
And gorgeous insect hovering in the air,
The fowl domestic, and the household dog- 45
In his capacious mind, he loved them all:
Their rights acknowledging he felt for all.
Oft was occasion given me to perceive
How the calm pleasures of the pasturing herd
To happy contemplation soothed his walk; 50
How the poor brute's condition, forced to run
Its course of suffering in the public road,
Sad contrast! all too often smote his heart
With unavailing pity. Rich in love
And sweet humanity, he was, himself,
To the degree that he desired, beloved.
Smiles of good-will from faces that he knew
Greeted us all day long; we took our seats
By many a cottage-hearth, where he received.
The welcome of an Inmate from afar,
And I at once forgot I was a Stranger.
-Nor was he loth to enter ragged huts,
Huts where his charity was blest; his voice
Heard as the voice of an experienced friend. And, sometimes-where the poor man held dispute
With his own mind, unable to subdue
Impatience through inaptness to perceive
General distress in his particular lot;
Or cherishing resentment, or in vain
Struggling against it; with a soul perplexed, 70
And finding in herself no steady power
To draw the line of comfort that divides
Calamity, the chastisement of Heaven,
From the injustice of our brother men—
To him appeal was made as to a judge;
Who, with an understanding heart, allayed
The perturbation; listened to the plea ;
Resolved the dubious point; and sentence gave
So grounded, so applied, that it was heard
With softened spirit, even when it condemned.
Such intercourse I witnessed, while we roved, Now as his choice directed, now as mine; Or both, with equal readiness of will, Our course submitting to the changeful breeze Of accident. But when the rising sun Had three times called us to renew our walk, My Fellow-traveller, with earnest voice, As if the thought were but a moment old, Claimed absolute dominion for the day. We started and he led me toward the hills, 90 Up through an ample vale, with higher hills Before us, mountains stern and desolate; But, in the majesty of distance, now Set off, and to our ken appearing fair Of aspect, with aërial softness clad, And beautified with morning's purple beams.
The wealthy, the luxurious, by the stress