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From whose calm centre thou, through height or

depth,

Mayst penetrate, wherever truth shall lead;
Measuring through all degrees, until the scale
`Of time and conscious nature disappear,
Lost in unsearchable eternity."

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A pause ensued; and with minuter care
We scanned the various features of the scene.
And soon the Tenant of that lonely vale
With courteous voice thus spake—

"I should have grieved
Hereafter, not escaping self-reproach,
If from my poor retirement ye had gone
Leaving this nook unvisited: but, in sooth,
Your unexpected presence had so roused
My spirits, that they were bent on enterprise;
And, like an ardent hunter, I forgot,

Or, shall I say?-disdained, the game that lurks
At my own door. The shapes before our eyes
And their arrangement, doubtless must be deemed
The sport of Nature, aided by blind Chance
Rudely to mock the works of toiling Man.
And hence, this upright shaft of unhewn stone,
From Fancy, willing to set off her stores
By sounding titles, hath acquired the name
Of Pompey's pillar; that I gravely style
My Theban obelisk; and, there, behold
A Druid cromlech !-thus I entertain
The antiquarian humor, and am pleased
To skim along the surfaces of things,
Beguiling harmlessly the listless hours.
But if the spirit be oppressed by sense

·

Of instability, revolt, decay,

And change, and emptiness, these freaks of Nature
And her blind helper Chance, do then suffice
To quicken, and to aggravate-to feed

Pity and scorn, and melancholy pride,
Not less than that huge Pile (from some abyss,
Of mortal power unquestionably sprung)
Whose hoary diadem of pendent rocks
Confines the shrill-voiced whirlwind, round and
round

Eddying within its vast circumference,
On Sarum's naked plain-than pyramid
Of Egypt, unsubverted, undissolved-
Or Syria's marble ruins towering high
Above the sandy desert, in the light
Of sun or moon.-Forgive me, if I say,
That an appearance which hath raised your minds
To an exalted pitch (the self-same cause
Different effect producing) is for me
Fraught rather with depression than delight,
Though shame it were, could I not look around,
By the reflection of your pleasure, pleased.
Yet happier in my judgment, even than you
With your bright transports fairly may be deemed,
The wandering Herbalist,—who, clear alike
From vain, and, that worse evil, vexing thoughts,
Casts, if he ever chance to enter here,
Upon these uncouth Forms a slight regard
Of transitory interest, and peeps round
For some rare floweret of the hills, or plant
Of craggy fountain; what he hopes for wins,
Or learns, at least, that 't is not to be won:
Then, keen and eager, as a fine-nosed hound

By soul-engrossing instinct driven along

Through wood or open field, the harmless Man
Departs, intent upon his onward quest !—
Nor is that Fellow-wanderer, so deem I,
Less to be envied, (you may trace him oft
By scars which his activity has left

Beside our roads and pathways, though, thank
Heaven!

This covert nook reports not of his hand)
He who with pocket-hammer smites the edge
Of luckless rock or prominent stone, disguised
In weather-stains or crusted o'er by Nature
With her first growths, detaching by the stroke
A chip or splinter-to resolve his doubts;
And, with that ready answer satisfied,
The substance classes by some barbarous name,
And hurries on; or from the fragments picks
His specimen, if but haply interveined
With sparkling mineral, or should crystal cube
Lurk in its cells-and thinks himself enriched,
Wealthier, and doubtless wiser, than before!
Intrusted safely each to his pursuit,
Earnest alike, let both from hill to hill
Range; if it please them, speed from clime to clime;
The mind is full-and free from pain their pastime."

66

Then," said I, interposing, "One is near,
Who cannot but possess in your esteem
Place worthier still of envy. May I name,
Without offence, that fair-faced cottage-boy?
Dame Nature's pupil of the lowest form,
Youngest apprentice in the school of art!
Him, as we entered from the open glen,

You might have noticed, busily engaged,
Heart, soul, and hands,-in mending the defects
Left in the fabric of a leaky dam

Raised for enabling this penurious stream
To turn a slender mill (that new-made plaything)
For his delight-the happiest he of all !"

"Far happiest," answered the desponding Man, "If, such as now he is, he might remain! Ah! what avails imagination high

Or question deep? what profits all that earth,
Or heaven's blue vault, is suffered to put forth
Of impulse or allurement, for the Soul

To quit the beaten track of life, and soar
Far as she finds a yielding element
In past or future; far as she can go
Through time or space--if neither in the one,
Nor in the other region, nor in aught
That Fancy, dreaming o'er the map of things,
Hath placed beyond these penetrable bounds,
Words of assurance can be heard; if nowhere
A habitation, for consummate good,

Or for progressive virtue, by the search

Can be attained,—a better sanctuary
From doubt and sorrow, than the senseless grave ?"

"Is this," the grey-haired Wanderer mildly said, "The voice, which we so lately overheard, To that same child, addressing tenderly The consolations of a hopeful mind? 'His body is at rest, his soul in Heaven.' These were your words; and, verily, methinks

Wisdom is oft-times nearer when we stoop

Than when we soar.'"

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The Other, not displeased,

Promptly replied-" My notion is the same.
And I, without reluctance, could decline
All act of inquisition whence we rise,

And what, when breath hath ceased, we may be

come.

Here are we, in a bright and breathing world.
Our origin, what matters it? In lack

Of worthier explanation, say at once
With the American (a thought which suits
The place where now we stand) that certain men
Leapt out together from a rocky cave;

And these were the first parents of mankind:
Or, if a different image be recalled

By the warm sunshine, and the jocund voice
Of insects chirping out their careless lives
On these soft beds of thyme-besprinkled turf,
Choose, with the gay Athenian, a conceit
As sound-blithe race! whose mantles were be-
decked

With golden grasshoppers, in sign that they
Had sprung, like those bright creatures, from the soil
Whereon their endless generations dwelt.

But stop!—these theoretic fancies jar

On serious minds: then, as the Hindoos draw
Their holy Ganges from a skiey fount,

Even so deduce the stream of human life

From seats of power divine; and, hope, or trust,
That our existence winds her stately course
Beneath the sun, like Ganges, to make part
Of a living ocean; or, to sink engulfed,

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