Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Fixing a steady eye, maintain their speed;
And spin --- and pant — and overhead again,
Wild Pursuivants ! until their breath is lost,
Or bounty tires and every face that smiled
Encouragement, hath ceased to look that way.

-- But, like the Vagrants of the Gipsey tribe,
These, bred to little pleasure in themselves,
Are profitless to others. Turn we then
To Britons born and bred within the pale
Of civil polity, and early trained
To earn, by wholesome labor in the field,
The bread they eat. A sample should I give
Of what this stock produces to enrich
The tender age of life, ye would exclaim,
'Is this the whistling Plough-boy whose shrill notes
Impart new gladness to the morning air ?'
Forgive me if I venture to suspect
That many, sweet to hear of in soft verse,
Are of no finer frame: his joints are stiff;
Beneath a cumbrous frock, that to the knees
Invests the thriving Churl, his legs appear,
Fellows to those that lustily upheld
The wooden stools for everlasting use,
Whereon our Fathers sate. And mark his brow!
Under whose shaggy canopy are set
Two eyes, not dim, but of a healthy stare;
Wide, sluggish, blank, and ignorant, and strange;
Proclaiming boldly that they never drew
A look or motion of intelligence
From infant conning of the Christ-cross-row,
Or puzzling through a Primer, line by line,
Till perfect mastery crown the pains at last.

What kindly warmth from touch of fostering hand. What penetrating power of sun or breeze, Shall e'ei dissolve the crust wherein his soul

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Sleeps, like a caterpillar, sheathed in ice?
This torpor is no pitiable work
Of modern ingenuity; no Town
Nor crowded City may be taxed with aught
Of sottish vice or desperate breach of law,
To which in after years he may be roused.
- This Boy the Fields produce: his spade and hoe -*
The Carter's whip that on his shoulder rests
In air high-towering with a boorish pomp,
The sceptre of his sway; his Country's name,
Her equal rights, her churches, and her schools
What have they done for him ? And, let me ask,
For tens of thousands uninformed as he?
In brief, what liberty of mind is here ?"

99

This ardent sally pleased the mild good Man,
To whom the appeal couched in its closing words
Was pointedly addressed ; and to the thoughts
That, in assent or opposition, rose
Within his mind, he seemed prepared to give
Prompt utterance; but, rising from our seat,
The hospitable Vicar interposed
With invitation urgently renewed.

We followed, taking as he led, a Path
Along a hedge of hollies, dark and tall,
Whose flexile boughs, descending with a weight
Of leafy spray, concealed the stems and roots
That gave them nourishment. When frosty winds
Howl from the north, what kindly warmth, methoughts
Is here, how grateful this impervious screen!
Not shaped by simple wearing of the foot
On rural business passing to and fro,
Was the commodious Walk; a careful hand
Had marked the line, and strewn the surface o'er
With pure cerulean gravel, from the heights

Fetched by the neighboring brook. Across the Vale
The stately Fence accompanied our steps;
And thus the Pathway, by perennial green
Guarded and graced, seemed fashioned to unite,
As by a beautiful yet solemn chain,
The Pastor's Mansion with the House of Prayer.

Like Image of solemnity, conjoined
With feminine allurement soft and fair,
The Mansion's self displayed ;

-a reverend Pile
With bold projections and recesses deep;
Shadowy, yet gay and lightsome as it stood
Fronting the noontide Sun. We paused to admire
The pillared Porch, elaborately embossed;
The low wide windows with their mullions old ;
The cornice richly fretted, of gray stone;
And that smooth slope from which the Dwelling rose
By beds and banks Arcadian of gay flowers
And flowering shrubs, protected and adorned;
Profusion bright! and every flower assuming
A mere than natural vividness of hue,
From unaffected contrast with the gloom
Of sober cypress, and the darker foil
Of yew, in which survived some traces, here
Not unbecoming, of grotesque device
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, harbor of delight
For wren and redbreast, where they sit and sing
Their slender ditties when the trees are bare.
Nor must I leave untouched (the picture else
Were incomplete) a relique of old times
Happily spared, a little Gothic niche

Of nicest workmanship; that once had held
The sculptured Image of some Pation 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 recognized her honored Friend,
The Wanderer ever welcome! A prompt kiss
The gladsome Child bestows at his request;
And, up the flowery lawn as we advanced,
Hangs on the Old Man with a happy look,
And with a pretty restless hand of love.

We enter -- by the Lady of the Place
Cordially greeted. Graceful was her port:
A lofty stature undepressed by Time,
Whose visitation had not wholly spared
The finer lineaments of form 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, fails she to assume
Brightness and touching beauty of her own,
That charm all eyes. So bright, so fair, appeared
This goodly Matron, shining in the beams
Of unexpected pleasure. Soon the board
Was spread, and we partook a plain repast.

Here, resting in cool shelter, we beguiled

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
Dropping from every mind, the Solitary
Resumed the manners of his happier days;
And, in the various conversation, bore
A willing, nay, 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 steadfast 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 66 A blessed lot is yours !
The words escaped his lip with a tender sigh
Breathed over them ;, but suddenly the door
Flew open, and a pair of 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's margin — whence they come,
Anglers elated with unusual spoil.
One bears a willow-pannier on his back,
The Boy of plainer garb, whose blush survives
More deeply tinged. Twin might the other be
To that fair Girl who from the garden Mount
Bounded -- triumphant entry this for him!

« AnteriorContinuar »