Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

With malady -- in part, I fear, provoked
By weariness of life, he fixed his Home,
Or, rather say, sate down by ¡ery chance,
Among these rugged hills; where now he dweils,
And wastes the sad remainder of his hours
In self-indulging spleen, that doth not want
Its own voluptuousness; - on this resolved,
With this content, that he will live and die
Forgotten, - at safe distance from a world
Not moving to his mind."?

These serious words Closed the preparatory notices That served my Fellow-traveller to beguile The way, while we advanced up that wide Vale, Diverging now (as if his quest had been Some secret of the Mountains, Cavern, Fall Of water or some boastful Eminence, Renowned for splendid prospect far and wide) We scaled, without a track to ease our steps, A steep ascent; and reached a dreary plain, With a tumultous waste of huge hill tops Before us; savage region! which I paced Dispirited: when, all at once, behold! Beneath our feet, a little lowly Vale, A lowly Vale, and yet uplifted high Among the mountains ; even as if the spot Had been, from eldest time by wish of theirs, So placed, to be shut out from all the world! Urn-like it was in shape, deep as an Urn; With rocks encompassed, save that to the South Was one small opening, where a heath-clad ridge Supplied a boundary less abrupt and close ; A quiet treeless nook with two green fields, A liquid pool that glittered in the sun,

And one bare Dwelling; one Abode, no more!
It seemed the home of poverty and toil,
Though not of want: the little fields made green
By husbandry of many thrifty years,
Paid cheerful tribute to the moorland House.
-- There crows the Cock, single in his domain:
The small birds find in spring no thicket there
To shroud them; only from the neighboring Vales
The Cuckoo, straggling up to the hill tops,
Shouteth faint tidings of some gladder place

Ah! what a sweet Recess, thought I, is here !
Instantly throwing down my limbs at ease
Upon a bed of heath ; - full many a spot
Of hidden beauty have I chanced to espy
Among the mountains; never one like this;
So lonesome, and so perfectly secure;
Not melancholy – no, for it is green,
And bright, and fertile, furnished in itself
With the few needful things that life requires.

- In rugged arms how soft it seems to lie,
How tenderly protected! Far and near
We have an image of the pristine earth,
The planet in its nakedness; were this
Man's only dwelling, sole appointed seat,
First, last, and single in the breathing world,
It could not be more quiet : peace is here
Or nowhere; days unruffled by the gale
Of public news or private ; years that pass
Forgetfully; uncalled upon to pay
The common penalties of mortal life,
Sickness, or accident, or grief, or pain.

On these and kindred thoughts intent I lay
In silence musing by my Comrade's side,

He also silent: when, from out the heart
Of that profound Abyss a solemn Voice,
Or several voices in one solemn sound,
Was heard

ascending: mournful, deep, and slow
The Cadence, as of Psalms a funeral dirge!
We listened, looking down upon the Hut,
But seeing no one: meanwhile from below
The strain continued, spiritual as before ;
And now distinctly could I recognise
These words : “ Shall in the Grave thy love be known,
In Death thy faithfulness ? "_"God rest his soul!”
The Wanderer cried, abruptly breaking silence,
“He is departed, and finds peace at last !”

This scarcely spoken, and those holy strains
Not ceasing, forth appeared in view a band
Of rustic Persons, from behind the hut
Bearing a Coffin in the midst, with which
They shaped their course along the sloping side
Of that small Valley; singing as they moved ;
A sober company and few, the Men
Bare-headed, and all decently attired!
Some steps when they had thus advanced, the dirge
Ended; and, from the stillness that ensued
Recovering, to my Friend I said, “ You spake,
Methought, with apprehension that these rites
Are paid to Him upon whose sly retreat
This day we purposed to intrude.” “I did so,
But let us hence, that we may learn the truth :
Perhaps it is not he, but some One else,
For whom this pious service is performed;
Some other Tenant cf the Solitude."

So, to a steep and difficult descent
Trusting ourselves, we wound from crag to crag,

Where passage could be won; and, as the last
Of the mute train, upon the heathy top
Of that off-sloping Outlet, disappeared,
I, more impatient in my downward course,
Had landed upon easy ground; and there
Stood waiting for my comrade. When behold
An object that enticed my steps aside!
A narrow, winding Entry opened out
Into a platform -- that lay, sheep-foldwise,
Enclosed between an upright mass of rock
And one old moss-grown wall; a cool Recess,
And fanciful! For, where the rock and wall
Met in an angle, hung a penthouse, framed
By thrusting two rude staves into the wall,
And overlaying them with mountain sods ;
To weather-fend a little turf-built seat
Whereon a full-grown man might rest, nor dread
The burning sunshine, or a transient shower;
But the whole plainly wrought by Children's hands!
Whose skill had thronged the floor with a proud show
Of baby-houses, curiously arranged;
Nor wanting ornaments of walks between,
With mimic trees inserted in the turf,
And gardens interposed. Pleased with the sight,
I could not choose but beckon to my Guide,
Who, entering, round him threw a careless glance,
Impatient to pass on, when I exclaimed,
“Lo! what is here?” and, stooping down, drew forth
A Book, that, in the midst of stones and moss,
And wreck of parti-colored earthen ware
Aptly disposed, had lent its help to raise
One of those petty structures.

56 Gracious Heaven!”
The Wanderer cried, “it cannot but be his,
And he is gone!” The Book, which in my hand
Had opened of itself, (for it was swoln

With searching damp, and seemingly had lain
To the injurious elements exposed
From week to week,) I found to be a work
In the French Tongue, a Novel of Voltaire,
His famous Optimist. “Unhappy Man!”
Exclaimed my Friend: “here, then, has been to hin
Retreat within retreat, a sheltering place
Within how deep a shelter! He had fits,
Even to the last, of genuine tenderness,
And loved the haunts of children: here, no doubt,
Pleasing and pleased, he shared their simple sports,
Or sate companionless ; and here the Book,
Left and forgotten in his careless way,
Must by the Cottage Children have been found :
Heaven bless them, and their inconsiderate work !
To what odd purpose have the Darlings turned
This sad Memorial of their hapless Friend !"

“Me,” said I, “most doth it surprise, to find
Such Book in such a place !” “A Book it is,"
He answered, “to the Person suited well,
Though little suited to surrounding things;
'Tis strange, I grant; and stranger still had been
To see the Man who owned it, dwelling here,
With one poor Shepherd, far from all the world!
Now, if our errand hath been thrown away,
As from these intimations I forebode,
Grieved shal. I be -- less for my sake than yours;
And least of all for Him who is no more."

By this, the Book was in the Old Man's hand;
And he continued, glancing on the leaves
An eye of scorn; “ The Lover," said he, “ doomed
To love when hope hath failed him -- whom no depth
Of privacy is deep enough to hide,


« AnteriorContinuar »