Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

Hath been the fields, the roads, and rural lanes, Of aspect, with aërial softness clad,
Look'd on this guide with reverential love? And beautified with morning's purple beams.
Each with the other pleased, we now pursued The wealthy, the luxurious, by the stress
Our journey-beneath favourable skies.

Of business roused, or pleasure, ere their time,
Turn wheresoe'er we would, he was a light May roll in chariots, or provoke the hoofs
Unfailing : not a hamlet could we pass,

Of the feet coursers they bestride, to raise Rarely a house, that did not yield to him

From earth the dust of morning, slow to rise ;
Remembrances : or from his tongue call forth And they, if blest with health and hearts at ease,
Some way-beguiling tale. Nor less regard Shall lack not their enjoyment :-but how faint
Accompanied those strains of apt discourse, Compared with ours ! who, pacing side by side
Which nature's various objects might inspire ; Could, with an eye of leisure, look on all
And in the silence of his face I read

That we beheld; and lend the listening sense
His overflowing spirit. Birds and beasts, To every grateful sound of earth and air ;
And the mute fish that glances in the stream, Pausing at will-our spirits braced, our thoughts
And harmless reptile coiling in the sun,

Pleasant as roses in the thickets blown,
And gorgeous insect hovering in the air,

And pure as dew bathing their crimson leaves. The fowl domestic, and the household dog,

Mount slowly, sun! that we may journey long, In his capacious mind-he loved them all:

By this dark hill protected from thy beams! Their rights acknowledging he felt for all. Such is the summer pilgrim's frequent wish; Oft was occasion given me to perceive

But quickly from among our morning thoughts How the calm pleasures of the pasturing herd 'Twas chased away : for, toward the western side To happy contemplation sooth'd his walk; Of the broad vale, casting a casual glance, How the poor brute's condition, forced to run We saw a throng of people ;-wherefore met? Its course of suffering in the public road,

Blithe notes of music, suddenly let loose Sad contrast! all too often smote his heart On the thrill'd ear, and Nags uprising, yield With unavailing pity, Rich in love

Prompt answer: they proclaim the annual wake, And sweet humanity, he was, himself,

Which the bright season favours.—Tabor and pipe To the degree that he desired, beloved.

In purpose join to hasten and reprove
Greetings and smiles we met with all day long The laggard rustic; and repay with boon
From faces that he knew; we took our seats Of merriment a party-colour'd knot,
By many a cottage hearth, where he received Already form'd upon the village green.
The welcome of an inmate come from far.

Beyond the limits of the shadow cast
Nor was he loath to enter ragged huts,

By the broad hill, glisten'd upon our sight
Huts where his charity was blest ; his voice That gay assemblage. Round them and above
Heard as the voice of an experienced friend. Glitter, with dark recesses interposed,
And, sometimes, where the poor man held dis- Casement, and cottage-roof, and stems of trees

Half-veil'd in vapory cloud, the silver steam
With his own mind, unable to subdue

Of dews fast melting on their leafy boughs Impatience through inaptness to perceive

By the strong sunbeams smitten. Like a mast General distress in his particular lot;

of gold, the maypole shines ; as if the rays Or cherishing resentment, or in vain

Of morning, aided by exhaling dew, Struggling against it, with a soul perplex'd, With gladsome influence could reanimate And finding in herself no steady power

The faded garlands dangling from its sides. To draw the line of comfort that divides

Said I,“ the music and the sprightly scene Calamity, the chastisement of heaven,

Invite us ; shall we quit our road, and join From the injustice of our brother men;

These festive matins ?”—He replied, “ not loath To him appeal was made as to a judge !

Here would I linger, and with you partake,
Who, with an understanding heart, allay'd Not one hour merely, but till evening's close
The perturbation ; listend to the plea ;

The simple pastimes of the day and place.
Resolved the dubious point; and sentence gave By the fleet racers, ere the sun be set,
So grounded, so'applied, that it was heard

The turf of yon large pasture will be skimm'd;
With soften'd spirit-even when it condemn'd. There, too, the lusty wrestlers shall contend:

Such intercourse I witness'd, while we roved, But know we not that he, who intermits Now as his choice directed, now as mine ;

Th' appointed task and duties of the day, Or both, with equal readiness of will,

Untunes full oft the pleasures of the day ; Our course submitting to the changeful breeze Checking the finer spirits that refuse - Of accident. But when the rising sun

To flow, when purposes are lightly changed ? Had three times call'd us to renew our walk, We must proceed a length of journey yet My fellow traveller, with earnest voice,

Remains untraced.” Then, pointing with his statt As if the thought were but a moment old, Raised toward those craggy summits, his intent Claim'd absolute dominion for the day.

He thus imparted. We started—and he led towards the hills

« In a spot that lies Up through an ample vale, with higher hills Among yon mountain fastnesses conceal’d Before us, mountains stern and desolate ;

You will receive, before the hour of noon, But, in the majesty of distance, now

Good recompense, I hope, for this day's toil Set off, and to our ken appearing fair

From sight of one who lives secluded there

Lonesome and lost: of whom, and whose past Intoxicating service ! I might say life,

A happy service ; for he was sincere (Not to forestall such knowledge as may be As vanity and fondness for applause, More faithfully collected from himself,)

And new and shapeless wishes, would allow. This brief communication shall suffice.

“ That righteous cause (such power hath freedom) « Though now sojourning there, he, like myself, bound, Sprang from a stock of lowly parentage

For one hostility, in friendly league Among the wilds of Scotland, in a tract

Ethereal natures and the worst of slaves ; Where many a shelter'd and well-tended plant, Was served by rival advocates that came Bears, on the humblest ground of social life, From regions opposite as heaven and hell, Blossoms of piety and innocence.

One courage seem'd to animate them all: Such grateful promises his youth display'd : And, from the dazzling conquests daily gain'd And, having shown in study forward zeal,

By their united efforts, there arose He to the ministry was duly callid;

A proud and most presumptuous confidence And straight incited by a curious mind

In the transcendent wisdom of the age, Fill'd with vague hopes, he undertook the charge And her discernment; not alone in rights, Of chaplain to a military troop,

And in the origin and bounds of power Cheer'd by the Highland bagpipe, as they march'd Social and temporal; but in laws divine, In plaided vest,-his fellow countrymen.

Deduced by reason, or to faith reveal'd. This office filling, yet by native power

An overweening trust was raised; and fear And force of native inclination, made

Cast out, alike of person and of thing. An intellectual ruler in the haunts

Plague from this union spread, whose subtle bane Of social vanity-he walk'd the world,

The strongest did not easily escape : Gay, and affecting graceful gayety ;

And he, what wonder! took a mortal taint. Lax, buoyant-less a pastor with his flock

How shall I trace the change, how bear to tell Than a soldier among soldiers-lived and roam'd That he broke faith with them whom he had laid Where fortune led :-and fortune, who oft proves In earth's dark chambers, with a Christian's hope ! The careless wanderer's friend, to him made known An infidel contempt of holy writ A blooming lady—a conspicuous flower,

Stole by degrees upon his mind; and hence Admired for beauty, for her sweetness praised ; Life, like that Roman Janus, double-faced ; Whom he had sensibility to love,

Vilest hypocrisy, the laughing, gay Ambition to attempt, and skill to win.

Hypocrisy, not leagued with fear, but pride. “ For this fair bride, most rich in gifts of mind, Smooth words he had to wheedle simple souls Nor sparingly endow'd with worldly wealth But, for disciples of the inner school, His office he relinquish'd ; and retired

Old freedom was old servitude, and they From the world's notice to a rural home.

The wisest whose opinions stoop'd the least Youth's season yet with him was scarcely past, To known restraints : and who most boldly drew And she was in youth's prime. How full their joy, Hopeful prognostications from a creed, How free their love! nor did that love decay, That, in the light of false philosophy, Nor joy abate, till, pitiable doom !

Spread like a halo round a misty moon, In the short course of one undreaded year

Widening its circle as the storms advance. Death blasted all.-Death suddenly o'erthrew “ His sacred function was at length renounced ; Two lovely children-all that they possess'd! And every day and every place enjoy'd The mother follow'd :-miserably bare

Th’unshackled layman's natural liberty; The one survivor stood; he wept, he pray'd Speech, manners, morals, all without disguise. For his dismissal; day and night, compellid I do not wish to wrong him ;-though the course By pain to turn his thoughts towards the grave, Of private life licentiously display'd And face the regions of eternity.

Unhallow'd actions-planted like a crown And uncomplaining apathy displaced

Upon the insolent, aspiring brow This anguish ; and, indifferent to delight,

Of spurious notions—worn as open signs To aim and purpose,

he consumed his days, Of prejudice subdued-he still retain'd, To private interest dead, and public eare.

'Mid such abasement, what he had received So lived he ; so he might have died.

From nature-an intense and glowing mind.

Wherefore, when humbled liberty grew weak,
To the wide world's astonishment, appear'd And mortal sickness on her face appear'd,
A glorious opening, the unlook'd for dawn, He colourd objects to his own desire
That promised everlasting joy to France !

As with a lover's passion. Yet his moods
Her voice of social transport reach'd e'en him ! Of pain were keen as those of better men,
He broke from his contracted bounds, repair'd Nay keener-as his fortitude was less,
To the great city, an emporium then

And he continued, when worse days were come, Of golden expectations, and receiving

To deal about his sparkling cloquence,
Freights every day from a new world of hope. Struggling against the strange reverse with zeal
Thither his popular talents he transferr'd

That show'd like happiness : but, in despite
And, from the pulpit, zealously maintain'd Of all this outside bravery, within,
The cause of Christ and civil liberty,

He neither felt encouragement nor hope :
As one, and moving to one glorious enda

For moral dignity, and strength of mind,

« But now,

Were wanting; and simplicity of life;

Among the mountains ; never one like this; And reverence for himself; and, last and best, So lonesome, and so perfectly secure : Confiding thoughts, through love and fear of him Not melancholy-no, for it is green, Before whose sight the troubles of this world And bright, and fertile, furnish'd in itself Are vain as billows in a tossing sea.

With the few needful things that life requires. “ The glory of the times fading away,

In rugged arms how soft it seems to lie, The splendour, which had given a festal air How tenderly protected ! Far and near To self-importance, hallow'd it, and veil'd We have an image of the pristine earth, From his own sight,—this gone, he forfeited The planet in its nakedness ; were this All joy in human nature; was consumed, Man's only dwelling, sole appointed seat, And vex’d, and chafed, by levity and scorn, First, last, and single in the breathing world, And fruitless indignation ; gall'd by pride ; It could not be more quiet: peace is here Made desperate by contempt of men who throve Or nowhere ; days unruffled by the gale Before his sight in power or fame, and won, Of public news or private ; years that pass Without desert, what he desired; weak men, Forgetfully ; uncall’d upon to pay Too weak e'en for his envy or his hate !

The common penalties of mortal life, Tormented thus, after a wandering course

Sickness or accident, or grief, or pain. Of discontent, and inwardly opprest

On these and kindred thoughts intent I lay With malady-in part, I fear, provoked

In silence musing by my comrade's side, By weariness of life, he fix'd his home,

He also sílent: when from out the heart Or, rather say, sate down by very chance, Of that profound abyss a solemn voice, Among these rugged hills ; where now he dwells, Or several voices in one solemn sound, And wastes the sad remainder of his hours Was heard-ascending: mournful, deep, and slow In self-indulging spleen, that doth not want The cadence, as of psalms—a funeral dirge ; Its own voluptuousness; on this resolved, We listen'd, looking down upon the hut, With this content, that he will live and die But seeing no one : meanwhile from below Forgotten,-at safe distance from a' world The strain continued, spiritual as before. Not moving to his mind.""

And now distinctly could I recognise

These serious words These words :-“ Shall in the grave thy love be Closed the preparatory notices

known, That served my fellow traveller to beguile

In death thy faithfulness ?”_ God rest his soul!" The way, while we advanced up that wide vale. The wanderer cried, abruptly breaking silence,Diverging now (as if his quest had been

“ He is departed, and finds peace at last !" Some secret of the mountains, cavern, fall

This scarcely spoken, and those holy strains Of water-or some boastful eminence,

Not ceasing, forth appear’d in view a band Renown' for splendid prospect far and wide) Of rustic persons, from behind the hut We scaled, without a track to ease our steps, Bearing a coffin in the midst, with which A steep ascent; and reach'd a dreary plain, They shaped their course along the sloping side With a tumultuous waste of huge hill tops Of that small valley ; singing as they mored ; Before us ; savage region! which I paced

A sober company and few, the men
Dispirited : when, all at

behold !

Bareheaded, and all decently attired!
Beneath our feet, a little lowly vale,

Some steps when they had thus advanced, the dirge A lowly vale, and yet uplifted high

Ended ; and, from the stillness that ensued Among the mountains ; even as if the spot Recovering, to my friend I said, “ You spake, Had been, from eldest time by wish of theirs, Methought, with apprehension that these rites So placed, to be shut out from all the world! Are paid to him upon whose shy retreat Urn-like it was in shape, deep as an urn;

This day we purposed to intrude.”_" I did so, With rocks encompass'd, save that to the south But let us hence, that we may learn the truth : Was one small opening, where a heath-clad ridge Perhaps it is not he but some one else Supplied a boundary less abrupt and close : For whom this pious service is perform'd; A quiet, treeless nook, with two green fields, Some other tenant of the solitude.” A liquid pool that glitter'd in the sun,

So, to a steep and difficult descent And one bare dwelling; one abode, no more ! Trusting ourselves, we wound from crag to crag, It seem'd the home of poverty and toil,

Where passage could be won; and, as the last Though not of want: the little fields, made green of the mute train, upon the heathy top By husbandry of many thrifty years,

Of that off-sloping outlet, disappear'd, Paid cheerful tribute to the moorland house. I, more impatient in my downward course, There crows the cock, single in his domain : Had landed upon easy ground; and there The small birds find in spring no thicket there Stood waiting for my comrade. When behold To shroud them; only from the neighbouring vales An object that enticed my steps aside! The cuckoo, straggling up to the hill tops, A narrow, winding entry opend out Shouteth faint tidings of some gladder place. Into a platform—that lay, sheepful wise,

Ah! what a sweet recess, thought I, is here ! Enclosed between an upright mass of rock Instantly throwing down my limbs at ease And one old moss-grown wall;-a cool recess, Upon a bed of heath ;-full many a spot

And fanciful! For, where the rock and wall Of hidden beauty have I chanced tespy

Met in an angle, hung a penthouse, framed,


[ocr errors]

By thrusting two rude staves into the wall No dearer relic, and no better stay,'
And overlaying them with mountain sods; Than this dull product of a scoffer's pen,
To weather-fend a little turf-built seat

Impure conceits discharging from a heart
* Whereon a full grown man might rest, nor dread Harden'd by impious pride! I did not fear

The burning sunshine, or a transient shower ; To tax you with this journey ;"-mildly said
But the whole plainly wrought by children's hands! My venerable friend, as forth we stepp'd
Whose skill had throng'd the floor with a proud show Into the presence of the cheerful light-
Of baby-houses, curiously arranged ;

“ For I have knowledge that you do not shrink Nor wanting ornaments of walks between, From noving spectacles ;—but let us on.” With mimic trees inserted in the turf,

So speaking, on he went, and at the word ci And gardens interposed. Pleased with the sight, I follow'd, till he made a sudden stand:

I could not choose but beckon to my guide, For full in view, approaching through a gate
Who, entering, round him threw a careless glance, That opend from the enclosure of green fields
Impatient to pass on, when I exclaim'd,

Into the rough uncultivated ground,
“Lo! what is here ?” and stooping down, drew Behold the man whom he had fancied dead !

I knew, from his deportment, mien, and dress,
A book, that, in the midst of stones and moss That it could be no other ; a pale face,
And wreck of party-colour'd earthenware

A tall and meagre person, in a garb
Aptly disposed, had lent its help to raise

Not rustic, dull and faded like himself !
One of those petty structures. “Gracious heaven!” He saw us not, though distant but few steps ;
The wanderer cried, “ it cannot but be his, For he was busy, dealing, from a store
And he is gone?” The book, which in my hand Upon a broad leaf carried, choicest strings
Had open'd of itself, (for it was swoln

Of red, ripe currants ; gift by which he strove,
With searching damp, and seemingly had lain With intermixture of endearing words,
To the injurious elements exposed

To soothe a child, who walk'd beside him, weeping
From week to week,) I found to be a work As if disconsolate.—“ They to the grave
In the French tongue, a novel of Voltaire, Are bearing him, my little one,” he said,
His famous optimist. “ Unhappy man!”

“ To the dark pit ; but he will feel no pain ; Exclaim'd my friend : “here then has been to him His body is at rest, his soul in heaven." Retreat within retreat, a sheltering place

More might have follow'd—but my honour'd Within how deep a shelter ! He had fits,

friend E’en to the last, of genuine tenderness,

Broke in upon the speaker with a frank
And loved the haunts of children here, no doubt. And cordial greeting.–Vivid was the light
Pleasing and pleased, he shared their simple sports, That flash'd and sparkled from the other's eyes :
Or sate companionless; and here the book, He was all fire: the sickness from his face
Left and forgotten in his careless way,

Pass'd like a fancy that is swept away ;
Must by the cottage children have been found : Hands join'd he with his visitant,-a grasp,
Heaven bless them, and their inconsiderate work! An eager grasp ; and many moments' space,
To what odd purpose have the darlings turn'd When the first glow of pleasure was no more,
This sad memorial of their hapless friend !" And inuch of what had vanish'd was return'd,

“ Me,” said I, “ most doth it surprise to find An amicable smile retain'd the life Such book in such a piace !"_" A book it is," Which it had unexpectedly received, He answered,“ to the person suited well,

Upon his hollow cheek. “ How kind,” he said,
Though little suited to surrounding things ; “ Nor could your coming have been better timed:
'Tis strange, I grant; and stranger still had been For this, you see, is in our narrow world
To see the man who own’d it, dwelling here, A day of sorrow. I have here a charge"-
With one poor shepherd, far from all the world! And, speaking thus, he patted tenderly
Now, if our errand hath been thrown away, The sunburnt forehead of the weeping child
As from these intimations I forbode,

“ A little mourner, whom it is my task
Grieved shall I be-less for my sake than yours ; To comfort ;—but how came ye ?—if yon track
And least of all for him who is no more.”

(Which doth at once befriend us and betray) By this, the book was in the old man's hand; Conducted hither your most welcome feet, And he continued, glancing on the leaves

Ye could not miss the funeral train—they yet
An eye of scorn. “ The lover,” said he, “ doom's Have scarcely disappear’d.” “This blooming child,”
To love when hope hath fail'd him—whom no depth Said the old man,“ is of an age to weep
of privacy is deep enough to hide,

At any grave or solemn spectacle,
Hath yet his bracelet or his lock of hair,

Inly distress'd or overpower'd with awe,
And that is joy to him. When change of times He knows not why ;-but he, perchance, this day,
Hath summon'd kings to scaffolds, do but give Is shedding orphan's tears ; and you yourself
The faithful servant, who must hide his head Must have sustain'd a loss.”—“The hand of death,”
Henceforth in whatsoever nook he may,

He answer'd,“ has been herc; but could not well
A kerchief sprinkled with his master's blood, Have fall’n more lightly, if it had not fall’n
And he too hath his comforter. How poor, Upon myself.”—The other left these words
Beyond all poverty how destitute,

Unnoticed, thus continuing.--
Must that man have been left, who, hither driven,

« From yon crag Flying or seeking, could yet bring with him Down whose steep sides we dropp'd into the vale,

[ocr errors]

We heard the hymn they sang-a solemn sound Answer'd the sick man with a careless voice Heard anywhere, but in a place like this

“ That I came hither ; neither have I found 'Tis more than human! Many precious rites Among associates who have power of speech, And customs of our rural ancestry

Nor in such other converse as is here, Are gone, or stealing from us ; this, I hope, Temptation so prevailing as to change Will last for ever. Often have I stopp'd

That mood, or undermine my first resolve.”When on my way, I could not choose but stop, Then speaking in like careless sort, he said So much I felt the awfulness of life,

To my benign companion,"Pity 'tis In that one moment when the corse is lifted That fortune did not guide you to this house In silence, with a hush of decency,

A few days earlier; then would you have seen Then from the threshold moves with song of peace, What stuff the dwellers in a solitude, And confidential yearnings, to its home,

That seems by nature hollow'd out to be Its final home in earth. What traveller--who- The seat and bosom of pure innocence, (How far soe'er a stranger) does not own

Are made of; an ungracious matter this ! The bond of brotherhood, when he sees them go, Which, for truth's sake, yet in remembrance too A mute procession on the houseless road;

Of past discussions with this zealous friend
Or passing by some single tenement

And advocate of humble life, I now
Or cluster'd dwellings, where again they raise Will force upon his notice; undeterr'd
The monitory voice? But most of all

By the example of his own pure course,
It touches, it confirms, and elevates,

And that respect and deference which a soul 'Then, when the body, soon to be consign'd May fairly claim, by niggard age enrich'd Ashes to ashes, dust bequeath'd to dust,

In what she values most—the love of God Is raised from the church aisle, and forward borne And his frail creature, man:-but ye shall bear. Upon the shoulders of the next in love,

I talk—and ye are standing in the sun The nearest in affection or in blood;

Without refreshment!" Yea, by the very mourners who had knelt

Saying this, he led Beside the coffin, resting on its lid

Towards the cottage ;--homely was the spot; In silent grief their unuplifted heads,

And, to my feeling, ere we reach'd the door, And heard meanwhile the psalmist's mournful Had almost a forbidding nakedness ; plaint,

Less fair, I grant, e'en painfully less fair, And that most awful scripture which declares Than it appear'd when from the beetling rock We shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed !- We had look'd down upon it. All within, Have I not seen ?-Ye likewise may have seen- As left by the departed company, Son, husband, brothers-brothers side by side,

Was silent; and the solitary clock And son and father also side by side,

Tick'd, as I thought, with melancholy sound. Rise from that posture ;-and in concert move, Following our guide, we clomb the cottage stairs On the green turf following the vested priest, And reach'd a small apartment dark and low, Four dear supporters of one senseless weight, Which was no sooner enter'd than our host From which they do not shrink, and under which Said gayly, “ This is my domain, my cell, They faint not, but advance toward the grave My hermitage, my cabin,—what you will Step after step-together, with their firm

I love it better than a spail bis house. Unhidden faces; he that suffers most,

But now ye shall be feasted with our best." He outwardly, and inwardly perhaps,

So, with more ardour than an unripe girl The most serene, with most undaunted eye! Left one day mistress of her mother's stores, 0! blest are they who live and die like these, He went about his hospitable task. Loved with such love, and with such sorrow My eyes were busy, and my thoughts no less, mourn'd!"

And pleased I look'd upon my gray-hair'd friend, “That poor man taken hence to-day,” replied As if to thank him: he return'd that look, The solitary, with a faint, sarcastic smile

Cheer’d, plainly, and yet serious. What a wreck Which did not please me,“must be deem'd, I fear, Had we around us ! scatter'd was the floor, Of the unblest; for he will surely sink

And, in like sort, chair, window-seat, and shelf, Into his mother earth without such pomp

With books, maps, fossils, wither'd plants and Of grief, depart without occasion given

flowers, By him for such array of fortitude.

And tufts of mountain moss: mechanic tools Full seventy winters hath he lived, and mark! Lay intermix'd with scraps of paper,—some This simple child will mourn his one short hour Scribbled with verse; a broken angling-rod And I shall miss him ; scanty tribute ! yet, And shatter'd telescope, together link'd This wanting, he would leave the sight of men, By cobwebs, stood within a dusty nook ; If love were his sole claim upon their care, And instruments of music, some half made, Like a ripe date which in the desert falls

Some in disgrace, hung dangling from the walls.Without a hand to gather it." At this

But speedily the promise was fulfill'd; I interposed, though loath to speak, and said, A feast before us, and a courteous host “Can it be thus among so small a band

Inviting us in glee to sit and eat. As ye must needs be here? in such a place A napkin, white as foam of that rough brook I would not willingly, methinks, lose sight By which it had been bleach'd, o'erspread the board; Of a departing cloud.”_" 'Twas not for love," And was itself half cover'd with a load

« AnteriorContinuar »