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For hence, minutely, in his various rounds, Upon that cottage bench reposed his limbs,
Screen’d from the sun. Supine the wanderer lay, Of many minds, of minds and bodies too
His eyes as if in drowsiness half shut, The history of many families,
The shadows of the breezy elms above How they had prosper'd; how they were o'er- Dappling his face. He had not heard the sound thrown
Of my approaching steps, and in the shade By passion or mischance; or such misrule
Unnoticed did I stand, some minutes' space. Among the unthinking masters of the earth At length I hail'd him, seeing that his hat As makes the nations groan.--This active course
Was moist with water-drops, as if the brim He follow'd till provision for his wants
Had newly scoop'd a running stream. Had been obtain'd ;—the wanderer then resolved
And ere our lively greeting into peace To pass the remnant of his days—untask'd
Had settled, “ 'Tis,” said I,“ a burning day : With needless services—from hardship free.
My lips are parch'd with thirst, but you, it seems, His calling laid aside, he lived at ease.
Have somewhere found relief.” He, at the word, But still he loved to pace the public roads
Pointing towards a sweet-brier, bade me climb And the wild paths; and by the summer's warmth The fence where that aspiring shrub look'd out Invited, often would he leave his home
Upon the public way. It was a plot And journey far, revisiting the scenes
Of garden ground run wild, its matted weeds That to his memory were most endear'd.
Mark'd with the steps of those, whom, as they Vigorous in health, of hopeful spirits, undamp'd
pass'd, By worldly-mindedness or anxious care ;
The gooseberry trees that shot in long lank slips, Observant, studious, thoughtful, and refresh'd Or currants, banging from their leafless stems By knowledge gather'd up from day to day ;
In scanty strings, had tempted to o’erleap Thus had he lived a long and innocent life.
The broken wall. I look'd around, and there, The Scottish church, both on himself and those Where too tall hedge-rows of thick alder boughs With whom from childhood he grew up, had held
Join'd in a cold, damp nook, espied a well The strong band of her purity; and still
Shrouded with willow flowers and plumy fern. Had watch'd him with an unrelenting eye.
My thirst I slaked, and from the cheerless spot This he remember'd in his riper age
Withdrawing, straightway to the shade return'd With gratitude, and reverential thoughts.
Where sate the old man on the cottage bench; But by the native vigour of his mind,
And, while beside him, with uncover'd head, By his habitual wanderings out of doors,
I yet was standing, freely to respire, By loneliness, and goodness, and kind works,
And cool my temples in the fanning air, Whate'er, in docile childhood or in youth,
Thus did he speak. “I see around me here He had imbibed of fear or darker thought
Things which you cannot see: we die, my friend, Was melted all away: so true was this,
Nor we alone, but that which each man loved That sometimes his religion seem'd to me
And prized in his peculiar nook of earth Self-taught, as of a dreamer in the woods ;
Dies with him, or is changed ; and very soon Who to the model of his own pure heart
Even of the good is no memorial left.Shaped his belief as grace divine inspired,
The poets, in their elegies and songs Or human reason dictated with awe.
Lamenting the departed, call the groves, And surely never did there live on earth
They call upon the hills and streams to mourn, A man of kindlier nature. The rough sports
And senseless rocks; nor idly; for they speak, And teasing ways of children vex'd not him ; In these their invocations, with a voice Indulgent listener was he to the tongue
Obedient to the strong creative power
More tranquil, yet perhaps of kindred birth,
That steal upon the meditative mind,
with thought. Beside yon spring I stood, Such as might suit a rustic sire, prepared
And eyed its waters till we seem'd to feel
One sadness, they and I. For them a bond
To human comfort. Stooping down to drink,
To the soft handling of the elements :
Forgive them ;-never-never did my steps
Approach this door but she who dwelt within 80 was he framed ; and such his course of life A daughter's welcome gave me, and I loved her Who now, with no appendage but a staff,
As my own child. O, sir ! the good die first, The prized memorial of relinquish'd toils, And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust
Burn to the socket. Many a passenger
Had fill'd with plenty, and possess'd in peace, Hath bless'd poor Margaret for her gentle looks, This lonely cottage. At his door he stood, When she upheld the cool refreshment drawn And whistled many a snatch of merry tunes From that forsaken spring: and no one came That had no mirth in them; or with his knife But he was welcome ; no one went away
Carved uncouth figures on the heads of sticksBut that it seem'd she loved him. She is dead, Then, not less idly, sought, through every nook The light extinguish'd of her lonely hut,
In house or garden, any casual work The hut itself abandon'd to decay,
Of use or ornament; and with a strange, And she forgotten in the quiet grave!
Amusing, yet uneasy novelty, " I speak,” continued he,“ of one whose stock He blended, where he might, the various tasks Of virtues bloom'd beneath this lowly roof. Of summer, autumn, winter, and the spring. She was a woman of a steady mind,
But this endured not; his good humour soon Tender and deep in her excess of love,
Became a weight in which no pleasure was: Not speaking much, pleased rather with the joy And poverty brought on a petted mood Of her own thoughts : by some especial care And a sore temper : day by day he droop'd, Her temper had been framed, as if to make And he would leave his work—and to the town, A being—who by adding love to peace
Without an errand, would direct his steps Might live on earth a life of happiness.
Or wander here and there among the fields. Her wedded partner lack'd not on his side One while he would speak lightly of his babes, The humble worth that satisfied her heart : And with a cruel tongue: at other times Frugal, affectionate, sober, and withal
He toss'd them with a false unnatural joy: Keenly industrious. She with pride would tell And 'twas a rueful thing to see the looks That he was often seated at his loom,
Of the poor, innocent children. • Every smile,' In summer, ere the mower was abroad
Said Margaret to me, here beneath these trees, Among the dewy grass,-in early spring,
• Made my heart bleed."" Ere the last star had vanish'd.—They who pass'd
At this the wanderer paused; At evening, from behind the garden fence And, looking up to those enormous elms, Might hear his busy spade, which he would ply, He said, “ 'Tis now the hour of deepest noon.After his daily work, until the light
At this still season of repose and peace,
Is filling all the air with melody;
“ Not twenty years ago, but you I think Why should we thus, with an untoward mind,
And, feeding on disquiet, thus disturb This happy land was stricken to the heart! The calm of nature with our restless thoughts ?” A wanderer then among the cottages I, with my freight of winter raiment, saw He spake with somewhat of a solemn tone: The hardships of that season; many rich
But, when he ended, there was in his face Sank down, as in a dream, among the poor ; Such easy cheerfulness, a look so mild, And of the poor did many cease to be,
That for a little time it stole away And their place knew them not. Meanwhile, All recollection, and that simple tale abridged
Pass'd from my mind like a forgotten sound. Of daily comforts, gladly reconciled
Awhile on trivial things we held discourse, "To numerous self-denials, Margaret
To me soon tasteless. In my own despite, Went struggling on through those calamitous years I thought of that poor woman as of one With cheerful hope, until the second autumn, Whom I had known and loved. He had rehearsed When her life's helpmate on a sick-bed lay, Her homely tale with such familiar power, Smitten with perilous fever. In disease
With such an active countenance, an eye He linger'd long: and when his strength return'd, So busy, that the things of which he spake He found the little he had stored, to meet
Seem'd present; and attention now relax'd, "The hour of accident or crippling age,
A heartfelt chillness crept along my veins. Was all consumed. A second infant now
I rose ; and, having left the breezy shade, Was added to the troubles of a time
Stood drinking comfort from the warmer sun, Laden, for them and all of their degrée,
That had not cheer'd me long-ere, looking round With care and sorrow: shoals of artisans
Upon that tranquil ruin; I return'd, From ill requitted labour turn'd adrift,
And begg'd of the old man that, for my sake, Sought daily bread from public charity,
He would resume his story. They, and their wives and children-happier far
He replied, Could they have lived as do the little birds
“ It were a wantonness, and would demand That peck along the hedge-rows, or the kite Severe reproof, if we were men whose hearts That makes her dwelling on the mountain rocks! Could hold vain dalliance with the misery
" A sad reverse it was for him who long Even of the dead: contented thence to draw
A momentary pleasure, never mark'd
With tender cheerfulness ; and with a voice By reason, barren of all future good.
That seem'd the very sound of happy thoughts. But we have known that there is often found “ I roved o'er many a hill and many a dale, In mournful thoughts, and always might be found, With my accustom'd load; in heat and cold, A power to virtue friendly: were 't not so, Through many a wood, and many an open ground, I am a dreamer among men, indeed,
In sunshine and in shade, in wet and fair, An idle dreamer ! 'tis a common tale,
Drooping or blithe of heart, as might befall ; An ordinary sorrow of man's life,
My best companions now the driving winds, A tale of silent suffering, hardly clothed
And now the trotting brooks and whispering trees, In bodily form.—But without further bidding And now the music of my own sad steps, I will proceed.
With many a shortlived thought that pass'd be“ While thus it fared with them,
tween, To whom this cottage, till those hapless years, And disappear'd.— I journey'd back this way, Had been a blessed home, it was my chance When, in the warmth of midsummer, the wheat To travel in a country far remote;
Was yellow: and the soft and bladed grass, And when these lofty elms once more appear’d; Springing afresh, had o'er the hay-field spread What pleasant expectations lured me on
Its tender verdure. At the door arrived, O'er the flat common With quick step I reach'd | I found that she was absent. In the shade, The threshold, lifted with light hand the latch ; Where now we sit, I waited her return. But, when I enter'd, Margaret look'd at me Her cottage, then a cheerful object, wore A little while ; then turn'd her head away Its customary look,-only, it seem's, Speechless,--and, sitting down upon a chair, The honeysuckle, crowding round the porch, Wept bitterly. I wist not what to do,
Hung down in heavier tufts: and that bright weed, Nor how to speak to her. Poor wretch ! at last The yellow stonecrop, suffer'd to take root She rose from off her seat, and then,- sir ! Along the window's edge, profusely grew, I cannot tell how she pronounced my name : Blinding the lower panes. I turn'd aside, With fervent love, and with a face of grief, And stroll'd into her garden. It appear'u Unutterably helpless, and a look
To lag behind the season, and had lost That seem'd to cling upon me, she inquired Its pride of neatness. Daisy flowers and thrift If I had seen her husband. As she spake
Had broken their trim lines, and straggled o’er A strange surprise and fear came to my heart, The paths they used to deck :-carnations, once Nor had I power to answer ere she told
Prized for surpassing beauty, and no less That he had disappear'd—not two months gone. For the peculiar pains they had required, He left his house: two wretched days had past, Declined their languid heads, wanting support. And on the third, as wistfully she raised
The cumbrous bindweed, with its wreaths and Her head from off her pillow, to look forth,
bells, Like one in trouble, for returning light,
Had twined about her two small rows of pease, Within her chamber casement she espied
And dragg'd them to the earth.-Ere this an hour A folded paper, lying as if placed
Was wasted.-Back I turn'd my restless steps ; To meet her waking eyes. This tremblingly A stranger pass'd ; and, guessing whom I sought, She open'dfound no writing, but beheld He said that she was used to ramble far.Pieces of money carefully enclosed,
The sun was sinking in the west ; and now Silver and gold. I shudder'd at the sight,' I sate with sad impatience. From within Said Margaret, for I knew it was his hand Her solitary infant cried aloud ; Which placed it there : and ere that day was ended, Then, like a blast that dies away self-still’d, That long and anxious day! I learn'd from one The voice was silent. From the bench I rose; Sent hither by my husband to impart
But neither could divert nor soothe my thoughts.
The longer I remain'd more desolate
The corner-stones, on either side the porch, That I should follow with my babes, and sink With dull red stains discolour'd and stuck o'er Beneath the misery of that wandering life.'
With tufts and hairs of wool, as if the sheep “ This tale did Margaret tell with many tears : That fed upon the common, thither came And, when she ended, I had little power
Familiarly ; and found a couching-place To give her comfort, and was glad to take Even at her threshold. Deeper shadows fell Such words of hope from her own mouth as served From these tall elms ;—the cottage clock struck To cheer us both:--but long we had not talk'd
eight:Ere we built up a pile of better thoughts
I turn'd, and saw her distant a few steps. And with a brighter eye she look'd around Her face was pale and thin—her figure, too, As if she had been shedding tears of joy.
Was changed. As she unlock'd the door, she said, We parted.—'Twas the time of early spring ; • It grieves me you have waited here so long, I left her busy with her garden tools ;
But, in good truth, I've wander'd much of late, And well remember, o'er that fence she look'd, And, sometimes-to my shame I speak—have need And, while I paced along the footway path, Of my best prayers to bring me back again.' Call'd out, and sent a blessing after me,
While on the board she spread our evening meal,
She told me interrupting not the work
The floor was neither dry nor neat, the hearth Which gave employment to her listless hands- Was comfortless, and her small lot of books, That she had parted with her elder child;
Which in the cottage window, heretofore To a kind master on a distant farm
Had been piled up against the corner panes Now happily apprenticed.— I perceive
In seemly order, now, with straggling leaves You look at me, and you have cause; to-day Lay scatter'd here and there, open or shut, I have been travelling far; and many days As they had chanced to fall. Her infant babe About the fields I wander, knowing this
Had from its mother caught the trick of grief, Only, that what I seek I cannot find;
And sigh'd among its playthings. Once again And so I waste my time: for I am changed ; I turn'd towards the garden gate, and saw, And to myself,' said she,' have done much wrong More plainly still, that poverty and grief And to this helpless infant. I have slept
Were now come nearer to her: weeds defaced Weeping, and weeping have I waked; my tears The harden'd soil, and knots of wither'd grass : Have flow'd as if my body were not such
No ridges there appear'd of clear, black mould, As others are ; and I could never die.
No winter greenness ; of her herbs and flowers, But I am now in mind and in my heart
It seem'd the better part were gnaw'd away More easy, and I hope,' said she, 'that God Or trampled into earth ; a chain of straw, Will give me patience to endure the things Which had been twined about the slender stem Which I behold at home. It would have grieved Of a young apple tree, lay at its root, Your very soul to see her ; sir, I feel
The bark was nibbled round by truant sheep. The story linger in my heart; I fear
Margaret stood near, her infant in her arms, 'Tis long and tedious; but my spirit clings And noting that my eye was on the tree, To that poor woman :-so familiarly
She said, 'I fear it will be dead and gone Do I perceive her manner, and her look
Ere Robert come again.' Towards the house And presence, and so deeply do I feel
Together we return'd; and she inquired
And for her little orphan boy, she said,
She had no wish to live, that she must die By 'sorrow laid asleep :-or borne away,
Of sorrow. Yet I saw the idle loom A human being destined to awake
Still in its place; bis Sunday garments hung To human lise, or something very near
Upon the selfsame nail ; his very staff To human life, when he shall come again
Stood undisturb'd behind the door. And when, For whom she suffer'd. Yes, it would have grieved In bleak December, I retraced this way, Your very soul to see her: evermore
She told me that her little babe was dead, Her eyelids droop'd, her eyes were downward cast; And she was left alone. She now, released And, when she at her table gave me food, From her maternal cares, had taken up She did not look at me. Her voice was low, Th’employment common through these wilds, and Her hody was subdued. In every act
gain'd, Pertaining to her house affairs, appear'd
By spinning hemp, a pittance for herself ; The careless stillness of a thinking mind
And for this end had hired a neighbour's boy Self occupied ; to which all outward things To give her needful help. That very time Are like an idle matter. Still she sigh'd,
Most willingly she put her work aside, But yet no motion of the breast was seen,
And walk'd with me along the miry road, No heaving of the heart. Wbile by the fire Heedless how far; and in such piteous sort We sate together, sighs came on my ear,
That any heart had ached to hear her, begg'd I knew not how, and hardly whence they came. That, wheresoe'er I went, I still would ask “ Ere my departure, to her care I gave,
For him whom she had lost. We parted thenFor her son's use, some tokens of regard,
Our final parting; for from that time forth
Into this track again.
“ Nine tedious years; I took my staff, and when I kiss'd her babe From their first separation, nine long years, The tears stood in her eyes. I left her then She lingerd in unquiet widowhood; With the best hope and comfort I could give ; A wife and widow. Needs must it have been She thank'd me for my wish ;—but for my hope A sore heart-wasting! I have heard, my friend, Methought, she did not thank me.
That in yon arbour oftentimes she sate
“ I return'd, Alone, through half the vacant Sabbath day; And took my rounds along this road again And, if a dog pass'd by, she still would quit Ere on its sunny bank the primrose flower
The shade, and look abroad. On this old bench Peep'd forth, to give an earnest of the spring. For hours she sate ; and everinore her eye I found her sad and drooping; she had learn'd Was busy in the distance, shaping things No tidings of her husband ; if he lived,
That made her heart beat quick. You see that path She knew not that he lived ; if he were dead, Now faint,—the grass has crept o'er its gray line She knew not he was dead. She seem'd the same There, to and fro, she paced through many a day In person and appearance ; but her house Of the warm summer, from a belt of bemp Bespake a sleepy hand of pegligence ;
That girt her waist, spinning the long-drawn thread
With backward steps. Yet ever as there passid To fall upon us, while, beneath the trees,
Admonish'd thus, the sweet hour coming on.
And, ere the stars were visible, had reach'd
THE SOLITARY. Checker'd the green-grown thatch. And so she
ARGUMENT. lived Through the long winter, reckless and alone;
The author describes his travels with the wanderer,
whose character is further illustrated. Morning scene, Until the house by frost, and thaw, and rain,
and view of a village wake. Wanderer's account of Was sapp'd; and while she slept, the nightly damps
a friend whom he purposes w visit. View, from an Did chill her breast: and in the stormy day
eminence, of the valley which his friend had chosen Her tatter'd clothes were ruffled by the wind; for his retreat. Feelings of the author at the sight of E'en at the side of her own fire. Yet still
it. Sound of singing froin below. A funeral proces.
sion. Descent into the valley. Observations drawn She loved this wretched spot, nor would for worlds
from the wanderer at sight of a book accidentally Have parted hence : and still that length of road,
discovered in a recess in the valley. Meeting with And this rude bench, one torturing hope endear'd, the wanderer's friend, the solitary. Wanderer's deFast rooted at her heart: and here, my friend, scription of the mode of burial in this mountainous In sickness she remaind; and here she died,
district. Solitary contrasts with this, tha! of the inLast human tenant of these ruin'd walls."
dividual carried a few minutes before from the cottage.
Brief conversation. The collage entered. Description The old man ceased : he saw that I was moved ;
of the solitary's apartment. Repast there. View From that low bench, rising instinctively
from the window of two mountain summits and I turn'd aside in weakness, nor had power
the solitary's description of the companionship they To thank him for the tale which he had told.
afford him. Account of the departed inmate of the I stood, and leaning o'er the garden wall,
collage. Description of a grand spectacle upon the Review'd that woman's sufferings; and it seem'd
mountains, with its effect upon the solitary's mind.
Quit the house.
In days of yore how fortunately fared
The minstrel! wandering on from hall to hall, Fondly,—and traced, with interest more mild, Baronial court or royal! cheer'd with gifts That secret spirit of humanity
Munificent, and love, and ladies' praise; Which, 'mid the calm, oblivious tendencies Now meeting on his road an armed knight, Of nature, 'mid her plants, and weeds, and flowers, Now resting with a pilgrim by the side And silent overgrowings, still survived.
Of a clear brook ;-beneath an abbey's roof
My friend ! enough to sorrow you have given, Humbly in a religious hospital;
Or with soine merry outlaws of the wood;
Or haply shrouded in a hermit's cell.
By virtue of that sacred instrument
Hlis dear companion wheresoe'er he went
Opening from land to land an easy way So still an image of tranquillity,
By melody, and by the charm of verse. So calm and still, and look'd so beautiful
Yet not the noblest of that honour'd race
From his long journeyings and eventful life,
To gather, ranging through the tamer ground
Both while he trod the earth in humblest guise And walk'd along my road in happiness.”
Accoutred with his burden apd his staff; He ceased. Ere long the sun declining shot And now, when free to move with lighter pace. A slant and mellow radiance, which began
What wonder, then, if I, whose favourite school 54
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