Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

And uncouth fancy. From behind the roof
Rose the slim ash and massy sycamore,
Blending their diverse foliage with the green
Of ivy, flourishing and thick, that clasped
The huge round chimneys, harbour of delight
For wren and redbreast,-where they sit and sing
Their slender ditties when the trees are bare.
Nor must I pass unnoticed leaving else
The picture incomplete, as it appeared
Before our eyes, a relique of old times
Happily spared, a little Gothic niche

Of nicest workmanship; which once had held
The sculptured image of some patron-saint,
Or of the blessed Virgin, looking down
On all who entered those religious doors.

But lo! where from the rocky garden-mount
Crowned by its antique summer-house-descends,
Light as the silver fawn, a radiant Girl;
For she hath recognised her honoured friend,
The Wanderer ever welcome! A prompt kiss
The gladsome Child bestows at his request;
And, up the flowery lawn as we advance,
Hangs on the old Man with a happy look,
And with a pretty restless hand of love.
-We enter-need I tell the courteous guise
In which the Lady of the place received
Our little Band, with salutation meet
To each accorded? Graceful was her port:
A lofty stature undepressed by time,
Whose visitation had not spared to touch
The finer lineaments of frame and face;

To that complexion brought which prudence trusts in
And wisdom loves.-But when a stately ship
Sails in smooth weather by the placid coast

On homeward voyage, what-if wind and wave,
And hardship undergone in various climes,
Have caused her to abate the virgin pride,
And that full trim of inexperienced hope
With which she left her haven-not for this,
Should the sun strike her, and the impartial breeze
Play on her streamers, doth she fail to assume
Brightness and touching beauty of her own,
That charm all eyes. So bright, to us, appeared
This goodly Matron, shining in the beams
Of unexpected pleasure.-Soon the board
Was spread, and we partook a plain repast.

Here, in cool shelter, while the scorching heat
Oppressed the fields, we sate, and entertained
The mid-day hours with desultory talk;
From trivial themes to general argument
Passing, as accident or fancy led,

Or courtesy prescribed. While question, rose
And answer flowed, the fetters of reserve

Dropped from our minds; and even the shy Recluse Resumed the manners of his happier days;

He in the various conversation bore

A willing, and, at times, a forward part;
Yet with the grace of one who in the world
Had learned the art of pleasing, and had now
Occasion given him to display his skill,
Upon the stedfast 'vantage-ground of truth.
He gazed, with admiration unsuppressed,
Upon the landscape of the sun-bright vale,
Seen, from the shady room in which we sate,
In softened perspective; and more than once
Praised the consummate harmony serene
Of gravity and elegance, diffused

Around the mansion and its whole domain;
Not, doubtless, without help of female taste
And female care." A blessed lot is yours!"
He said, and with that exclamation breathed
A tender sigh: but suddenly the door
Opening, with eager haste two lusty Boys
Appeared, confusion checking their delight.
Not brothers they in feature or attire,
But fond companions, so I guessed, in field,
And by the river side-from which they come.
A pair of anglers, laden with their spoil.
One bears a willow-pannier on his back,
The boy of plainer garb, and more abashed
In countenance-more distant and retired.
Twin might the other be to that fair girl
Who bounded towards us from the garden mount.
Triumphant entry this to him!-for see
Between his hands he holds a smooth blue stone,
On whose capacious surface is outspread

Large store of gleaming crimson-spotted trouts;
Ranged side by side, in regular ascent,
One after one, still lessening by degrees
Up to the dwarf that tops the pinnacle.

Upon the board he lays the sky-blue stone

With its rich spoil; their number he proclaims;

Tells from what pool the noblest had been dragged;
And where the very monarch of the brook,
After long struggle, had escaped at last-
Stealing alternately at them and us
(As doth his comrade too) a look of pride:
And, verily, the silent creatures made
A splendid sight, together thus exposed;
Dead-but not sullied or deformed by death,
That seemed to pity what he could not spare.

But O, the animation in the mien
Of those two boys! yea in the very words
With which the young narrator was inspired,
When, as our questions led, he told at large
Of that day's prowess! Him might I compare,

His look, tones, gestures, eager eloquence,
To a bold brook which splits for better speed,
And at the self-same moment, works its way
Through many channels, ever and anon
Parted and re-united: his compeer

To the still lake, whose stillness is to the eye
As beautiful-as grateful to the mind.
-But to what object shall the lovely Girl
Be likened? She whose countenance and air
Unite the graceful qualities of both,

Even as she shares the pride and joy of both.

My grey-haired Friend was moved; his vivid eye
Glistened with tenderness; his mind, I knew,
Was full; and had, I doubted not, returned,
Upon this impulse, to the theme-erewhile
Abruptly broken off. The ruddy boys

Did now withdraw to take their well-earned meal;
And He-to whom all tongues resigned their rights
With willingness, to whom the general ear

Listened with readier patience than to strain

Of music, lute or harp, a long delight

That ceased not when his voice had ceased-as One

Who from truth's central point serenely views

The compass of his argument-began

Mildly, and with a clear and steady tone.

DISCOURSE OF THE WANDERER, AND AN EVENING VISIT TO THE LAKE.

BOOK IX.

Wanderer asserts that an active principle pervades the Universe, its noblest seat the human soul-How lively this principle is in Childhood-Hence the delight in old Age of looking back upon Childhood-The dignity, powers, and privileges of Age asserted-These not to be looked for generally, but under a just government -Right of a human Creature to be exempt from being considered as a mere Instrument-The condition of multitudes deplored-Former conversation recurred to, and the Wanderer's opinions set in a clearer light-Truth placed within reach of the humblest-Equality-Happy state of the two Boys again adverted toEarnest wish expressed for a System of National Education established univer. sally by Government-Glorious effects of this foretold-Walk to the Lake-Grand spectacle from the side of a hill-Address of Priest to the Supreme Being-in the course of which he contrasts with ancient Barbarism the present appearance of the scene before him-The change ascribed to Christianity-Apostrophe to his dock, living and dead-Gratitude to the Almighty-Return over the Lake-Parting with the Solitary-Under what circumstances.

"To every Form of being is assigned,"
Thus calmly spake the venerable Sage,
"An active Principle:-howe'er removed
From sense and observation, it subsists

In all things, in all natures; in the stars
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds,
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks,
The moving waters, and the invisible air.
Whate'er exists hath properties that spread
Beyond itself, communicating good,
A simple blessing, or with evil mixed;
Spirit that knows no insulated spot,
No chasm, no solitude; from link to link
It circulates, the Soul of all the worlds.
This is the freedom of the universe;
Unfolded still the more, more visible,

The more we know; and yet is reverenced least,
And least respected in the human Mind,

Its most apparent home. The food of hope
Is meditated action; robbed of this

Her sole support, she languishes and dies.
We perish also; for we live by hope
And by desire; we see by the glad light
And breathe the sweet air of futurity;
And so we live, or else we have no life.
To-morrow-nay perchance this very hour
(For every moment has its own to-morrow!)
Those blooming Boys, whose hearts are almost sick
With present triumph, will be sure to find
A field before them freshened with the dew

Of other expectations;-in which course

Their happy year spins round. The youth obeys
A like glad impulse; and so moves the man
'Mid all his apprehensions, cares, and fears,-
Or so he ought to move. Ah! why in age
Do we revert so fondly to the walks

Of childhood-but that there the Soul discerns
The dear memorial footsteps unimpaired.
Of her own native vigour; but for this
That it is given her thence in age to hear
Reverberations; and a choral song,
Commingling with the incense that ascends,
Undaunted, tow'rds the imperishable heavens,
From her own lonely altar?

Do not think

That good and wise will ever be allowed,

Though strength decay, to breathe in such estate
As shall divide them wholly from the stir

Of hopeful nature. Rightly is it said
That Man descends into the VALE of years;
Yet have I thought that we might also speak,
And not presumptuously, I trust, of Age,
As of a final EMINENCE; though bare
In aspect and forbidding, yet a point
On which 'tis not impossible to sit
In awful sovereignty; a place of power,
A throne, which may be likened unto his,

Who, in some placid day of summer, looks

Down from a mountain-top,-say one of those

High peaks, that bound the vale where now we are.
Faint, and diminished to the gazing eye,

Forest and field, and hill and dale appear,
With all the shapes upon their surface spread:
But, while the gross and visible frame of things
Relinquishes its hold upon the sense,

Yea almost on the Mind itself, and seems
All unsubstantialized,-how loud the voice
Of waters with invigorated peal

From the full river in the vale below,
Ascending! For on that superior height
Who sits, is disencumbered from the press
Of near obstructions, and is privileged
To breath in solitude, above the host
Of ever-humming insects, 'mid thin air

That suits not them. The murmur of the leaves
Many and idle, touches not his ear:

This he is freed from, and from thousand notes
(Not less unceasing, not less vain than these,)
By which the finer passages of sense

Are occupied; and the Soul, that would incline
To listen, is prevented or deterred.

And may it not be hoped, that, placed by age In like removal, tranquil though severe,

We are not so removed for utter loss;

But for some favour, suited to our need?

What more than this, that we thereby should gain
Fresh power to commune with the invisible world,
And hear the mighty stream of tendency
Uttering, for elevation of our thought,

A clear sonorous voice, inaudible

To the vast multitude; whose doom it is
To run the giddy round of vain delight,
Or fret and labour on the Plain below.

But, if to such sublime ascent the hopes
Of Man may rise, as to a welcome close
And termination of his mortal course;
Them only can such hope inspire whose minds
Have not been starved by absolute neglect;
Nor bodies crushed by unremitting toil;

To whom kind Nature, therefore, may afford
Proof of the sacred love she bears for all ;

Whose birthright Reason, therefore, may ensure.
For me, consulting what I feel within

In times when most existence with herself

Is satisfied, I cannot but believe,

That, far as kindly Nature hath free scope

And Reason's sway predominates; even so far,

Country, society, and time itself,

That saps the individual's bodily frame,
And lays the generations low in dust,

« AnteriorContinuar »