Abbildungen der Seite

One of God's simple children that yet know not Their slender means ; so, to that parent's care The upiversal Parent, how he sings

Trusting her child, she left their common home As if he wish'd the firmament of heaven

And with contented spirit undertook
Should listen, and give back to him the voice A foster-mother's office.
Of his triumphant constancy and love ;

Tis, perchance,
The proclamation that he makes, how far

Unknown to you that in these simple vales His darkness doth transcend our fickle light! The natural feeling of equality

“Such was the tender passage, not by me Is by domestic service unimpair'd; Repeated without loss of simple phrase,

Yet, though such service be, with us, removed Which I perused, even as the words had been From sense of degradation, not the less Committed by forsaken Ellen's hand

Th'ungentle mind can easily find means To the blank margin of a valentine,

T'impose severe restraints and laws unjust, Bedropp'd with tears. 'Twill please you to be told Which hapless Ellen now was doom'd to feel; That, studiously withdrawing from the eye For (blinded by an over-anxious dread Of all companionship, the sufferer yet

Of such excitement and divided thought In lonely reading found a meek resource ;

As with her office would but ill accord) How thankful for the warmth of summer days, The pair, whose infant she was bound to nurse, When she could slip into the cottage barn,

Forbad her all communion with her own; And find a secret oratory there;

Week after week, the mandate they enforced. Or, in the garden, under friendly veil

So near! yet not allow'd, upon that sight Of their long twilight, pore upon her book

To fix her eyes—alas ! 'twas hard to bear! By the last lingering help of open sky,

But worse affliction must be borne-far worse ; Till the dark night dismiss'd ber to her bed! For 'tis Heaven's will-that, after a disease Thus did a waking fancy sometimes lose

Begun and ended within three days' space, Th' unconquerable pang of despised love.

Her child should die; as Ellen now exclaim'd, “A kindlier passion open'd on her soul

Her own-deserted child! Once, only once,
When that poor child was born. Upon its face She saw it in that mortal malady;
She look'd as on a pure and spotless gist

And, on the burial day, could scarcely gain
Of unexpected promise, where a grief

Permission to attend its obsequies. Or dread was all that had been thought of-joy She reach'd the house-last of the funeral ti ain; Far livelier than bewilder'd traveller feels And some one, as sie enter'd, having chanced Amid a perilous waste, that all night long

To urge unthinkingly their prompt departure, Hath harass'd him—toiling through fearful storm, Nay,' said she, with cominanding look, a spirit When he beholds the first pale speck serene Of anger never seen in her before, Of dayspring, in the gloomy east reveal'd,

Nay, ye must wait my time!' and down she sale And greets it with thanksgiving. Till this hour,' | And by the unclosed coffin kept her seat Thus, in her mother's hearing Ellen spake, Weeping and looking, looking on and weeping, There was a stony region in my heart;

Upon the last sweet slumber of her child, But He, at whose command the parched rock Until at length her soul was satisfied. Was smilten, and pour'd forth a quenching stream, | “You see the infant's grave; and to this spot, Hath soften'd that obduracy, and made

The mother, oft as she was sent abroad, Unlook'd for gladness in the desert place,

And whatsoe'er the errand, urged her steps: To save the perishing; and, henceforth, I look Hither she came; here stood, and sometimes knelt Upon the light with cheerfulness, for thee,

In the broad day-a rueful Magdalene ! My infant ! and for that good mother dear,

So call her; for not only she bewail'd
Who bore me,-and hath pray'd for me in vain ;-) A mother's loss, but mourn'd in bitterness
Yet 1100 in vain, it shall not be in vain.'

Her own transgression, penitent sincere
She spake, nor was th' assurance unfulfill'd, As ever raised to heaven a streaming eye.
And if heartrending thoughts would oft return, At length the parents of the foster child,
They stay'd not long. The blameless infant grew ; | Noting that in despite of their commands
The child whom Ellen and her mother loved She still renew'd and could not but renew
They soon were proud of; tended it and nursed, Those visitations, ceased to send her forth;
A soothing comforter, although forlorn ;

Or, to the garden's narrow bounds, confined.
Like a por singing bird from distant lands; I fail'd not to remind them that they err'd ;
Or a choice shrub, which be, who passes by

For holy nature might not thus be cross'd, With vacant mind, not seldom may observe

Thus wrongd in woman's breast: in vain 1 Fair flowering in a thinly peopled house,

pleadedWhose window, somewhat sadly, it adorns. But the green stalk of Ellen's life was snapp'd, Through four months' space the infant drew its And the flower droop'd; as every eye could see, food

It hung its head in mortal languishment. From the maternal breast; then scruples rose; Aided by this appearance, I at length Thoughts, which the rich are free from, came and Prevail'd; and from those bonds released, she went cross'd

Home to her mother's house. The youth was fled; The sweet affection. She no more could bear The rash betrayer could not face the shame By her offence to lay a twofold weight

Or sorrow which his senseless guilt had caused; On a kind parent willing to forget

| And little would his presence, or proof given

Of a relenting soul, have now avail'd;

This tale gives proof that Heaven most gently deals For, like a shadow, he was pass'd away

With such, in their amiction. Ellen's fate, From Ellen's thoughts; had perish'd to her mind Her tender spirit, and her contrite heart, For all concerns of fear, or hope, or love,

Call to my mind dark hints which I have heard Save only those which to their common shame, Of one who died within this vale, by doom And to his moral being appertain'd:

Heavier, as his offence was heavier far. Hope from that quarter would, I know, have Where, sir, I pray you, where are laid the bones brought

Of Wilfred Armathwaite ?” The vicar answer'd, A heavenly comfort: there she recognised " In that green nook, close by the churchyard wall, An unrelaxing bond, a mutual need:

Beneath yon hawthorn, planted by myself There, and, as seem'd, there only. She had built, In memory and for warning, and in sign Her fond maternal heart had built, a nest

Of sweetness where dire anguish had been known, In blindness all too near the river's edge ;

Of reconcilement after deep offence, That work a summer flood with hasty swell There doth he rest. No theme bis fate supplies Had swept away; and now her spirit long'd For the smooth glozings of th’indulgent world; For its last flight to heaven's security.

Nor need the windings of his devious course The bodily frame was wasted day by day; Be here retraced; enough that, by mishap Meanwhile, relinquishing all other cares,

And venial error, robb’d of competence,
Her mind she strictly tutor’d to find peace

And her obsequious shadow, peace of mind,
And pleasure in endurance. Much she thought, He craved a substitute in troubled joy ;
And much she read; and brooded feelingly

Against his conscience rose in arms, and, braving Upon her own unworthiness. To me,

Divine displeasure, broke the marriage vow. As to a spiritual comforter and friend,

That which he had been weak enough to do Her heart she open'd; and no prins were spared Was misery in remembrance ; he was stung, To mitigate, as gently as I could,

Stung by his inward thoughts, and by the smiles The sting of self-reproach, with healing words. Of wife and children stung to agony. Meek saint! through patience glorified on earth! Wretched at home, he gain'd no peace abroad; In whom, as by her lonely hearth she sate, Ranged through the mountains, slept upon the earth, The ghastly face of cold decay put on

Ask'd comfort of the open air, and sound A sun-like beauty, and appear'd divine !

No quiet in the darkness of the night, May I not mention-that, within those walls, No pleasure in the beauty of the day. In due observance of her pious wish,

His fuck he slighted : his paternal fields The congregation joind with me in prayer

Became a clog to him, whose spirit wish'd For her soul's good ? Nor was that office vaid. To fiy, but whither! And this gracious church, Much did she suffer: but, if any friend,

That wears a look so full of peace and hope Beholding her condition, at the sight

And love, benignant mother of the vale, Gave way to words of pity or complaint,

How fair amid her brood of cottages! She still’d them with a prompt reproof, and said, She was to him a sickness and reproach. "He who afflicts me knows what I can bear; Much to the last remaju'd unknown: but this And, when I fail, and can endure no more.

Is sure, that through remorse and grief he died; Will mercifully take me to himself.'

Though pitied am ng men, absolved by God, So, through the cloud of death, her spirit pass'd He could not find forgiveness in himself; Into that pure and unknown world of love

Nor could endure the weight of his own shame. Where injury cannot come :--and here is laid

“Here rests another. But from her I turn, The mortal body by her infant's side.”

And from her grave. Behold-upon that ridge, The vicar ceased ; and downcast looks made That, stretching boldly from the mountain side, known

Carries into the centre of the vale That cach had listend with his inmost heart, Its rocks and woods-the cottage where she dwelt For me, th' emotion scarcely was less strong And where yet dwells her faithful partner, left Or less benign than that which I had felt

(Full eight years past) the solitary prop When, seated near my venerable friend,

Of many helpless children. I begin Beneath those shady elms, from him I heard With words that might be prelude to a tale The story that retraced the slow decline

Of sorrow and dejection ; but I feel Of Margaret sinking on the lonely heath,

No sadness, when I think of what mine eyes With the neglected house to which she clung. See daily in that happy family. I noted that the solitary's cheek

Bright gailund form they for the pensive brow Confess'd the power of nature. Pleased though 92, of their undrooping father's widowhood. More pleased than sad, the gray-hair'd wanderer | Those six fair daughters, budding yet-not one, sate;

Not one of all the band, a full-blown flower! Thanks to his pure imaginative soul

Deprest, and desolate of soul, as once Capacious and serene, his blameless life,

That father was, and fill'd with anxious fear, His knowledge, wisdom, love of truth, and love Now, by experience taught, he stands assured, Of human kind! He was it who first broke

That God, who takes away, yet takes not half The pensive silence, saying, “ Blest are they Of what he seems to take ; or gives it back, Whose sorrow rather is to suffer wrong

Not to our prayer, but far beyond onr prayer; Than to do wrong, although then selves have err'd. He gives it—the boon produce of a soil

Which our endeavours have refused to till,

mentations over misdirected applause. Instance of lese And hope hath never water'd. The abode,

exalted excellence in a deaf man. Elevated character

of a blind man. Reflection upon blindness. Interrupe. Whose grateful owner can attest these truths,

ed by a peasant who passes: his animal cheerfulness E’en were the object nearer to our sight,

and careless vivacity. He occasions a digression on Would seem in no distinction to surpass

the fall of beautiful and interesting trees. A female The rudest habitations. Ye might think

infant's grave. Joy at her birth. Sorrow at her departThat it had sprung self-raised from earth, or grown ure. A youthful peasant ; his patriotic enthusiasm, disOut of the living rock, to be adorn'd

linguished qualities, and untimely death. Exultation

of the wanderer, as a patriot, in this picture. Solitary By nature only; but, if thither led,

how affected. Monument of a knight Traditions Ye would discover, then, a studious work

concerning him. Peroration of the wanderer on the Of many fancies, prompting many hands.

transitoriness of things, and the revolutions of society Brought from the woods, the honeysuckle twines Hints at his own past calling. Thanks the pastor, Around the porch, and seems, in that trim place, A plant no longer wild: the cultured rose While thus from theme to theme the historian There blossoms, strong in health, and will be soon passid, Roof high; the wild pink crowns the garden wall, The words he utter'), and the scene that lay And with the flowers are intermingled stones Before our eyes, awaken'd in my mind Sparry and bright, rough scatterings of the hills. Vivid remembrance of those long-past hours, These ornaments, that fade not with the year, When, in the hollow of some shadowy vale, A hardy girl continues to provide ;

(What time the splendour of the setting sun
Who, mounting fearlessly the rocky heights Lay beautiful on Snowdon's sovereign brow,
Her father's prompt attendant, does for him On Cader Idris, or huge Penmanmaur,)
All that a boy could do, but with delight

A wandering youth, I listen'd with delight
More keen, and prouder daring: yet hath she To pastoral melody or warlike air,
Within the garden, like the rest, a bed

Drawn from the chords of th' ancient British harp
For her own flowers and favourite herbs a space, By some accomplished master, while he sate
By sacred charter, holden for her use.

Amid the quiet of the green recess,
These, and whatever else the garden bears

And there did inexhaustibly dispense
Of fruit or flower, permission ask'd or not, An interchange of soft or solemn tunes,
I freely gather; and my leisure draws

Tender or blithe; now, as the varying mood
A not unfrequent pastime from the sight

Of his own spirit urged, -now, as a voice
Of the bees murmuring round their shelter'd hives | From youth or maiden, or some honour'd chief
In that enclosure; while the mountain rill, Of his compatriot villagers (that hung
That sparkling thrids the rocks, attunes his voice | Around him, drinking in the impassion'd notes
To the pure course of human life, which there Of the time-hallow'd minstrelsy) required
Flows on in solitude. But, when the gloom For their heart's ease or pleasure. Strains of power
Of night is falling round my steps, then most Were they, to seize and occupy the sense ;
This dwelling charms me: often I stop short, But to a higher mark than song can reach
(Who could refrain?) and feed by stealth my sight Rose this pure eloquence. And, when the stream
With prospect of the company within,

Which overflow'd the soul was pass'd away,
Laid open through the blazing window. There A consciousness remain'd that it had left
I see the eldest daughter at her wheel

Deposited upon the silent shore
Spinning amain, as if to overtake

Of memory, images and precious thoughts, The never-halting time; or, in her turn,

That shall not die, and cannot be destroy'd. Teaching some novice of the sisterhood

« These grassy heaps lie amicably close,” That skill in this or other household work, Said I,“ like surges heaving in the wind Which, from her father's honour'd hand, herself Upon the surface of a mountain pool; While she was yet a little one, had learn'd. Whence comes it then, that yonder we behold Mild man! he is not gay, but they are gay ; Five graves, and only five, that rise together And the whole house seems fill'd with gayety. Unsociably sequester'd, and encroaching Thrice happy, then, the mother may be deem'd, On the smooth playground of the village school ?" The wife, from whose consolatory grave

The vicar answered : “ No disdainful pride I turn'd, that ye in mind might witness where In them who rest beneath, nor any course And how, her spirit yet survives on earth.” Of strange or tragic accident, hath help'd

To place those hillocks in that lonely guise.

Once more look forth, and follow with your sight BOOK VII.

The length of road that from yon mountain's base

Through bare enclosures stretches, till its line THE CHURCHYARD AMONG THE MOUNTAINS. Is lost within a little tuft of trees; CONTINUED.

Then reappearing in a moment, quits

The cultured fields, and up the heathy waste, ARGUMENT

Mounts, as you see, in mazes serpentine, Impression of these narratives upon the author's mind.

Towards an easy outlet of the vale. Pastor invited to give account of certain graves that lie

That little shady spot, that sylvan tuft, apart. Clergyman and his family. Fortunate influence of change of situation. Activity in extreme old age. By which the road is hidden, also bides Another clergyman, a character of resolute virtue. La- | A cottage from our view,-though I discern

(Ye scarcely can) amid its sheltering trees

To cheat the sadness of a rainy day;
The smokeless chimney-top. All unembower'd Hands apt for all ingenious arts and games;
And naked stood that lonely parsonage

A generous spirit, and a body strong (For such in truth it is, and appertains

To cope with stoutest champions of the bowl; To a small chapel in the vale beyond)

Had earn'd for him sure welcome, and the rights When hither came its last inhabitant.

Of a prized visitant, in the jolly hall * Rough and forbidding were the choicest roads Of country squire; or at the statelier board By which our northern wilds could then be cross'd; Of duke or earl, from scenes of courtly pomp And into most of these secluded vales

Withdrawn, to while away the summer hours Was no access for wain, heavy or light.

In condescension among rural guests. So, at his dwelling-place the priest arrived,

“ With these high comrades he had reveli'd long,
With store of household goods, in panniers slung, | Frolick'd industriously, a simple clerk,
On sturdy horses graced with jingling bells, By hopes of coming patronage beguiled
And on the back of more ignoble beast;

Till the heart sicken'd, So each loftier aim
That, with like burden of effects most prized Abandoning, and all his showy friends,
Or easiest carried, closed the motley train.

For a life's stay, though slender yet assured,
Yding was I then, a schoolboy of eight years ; He turn’d to this secluded chapelry,
But still, methinks, I see them as they pass'd That had been offered to his doubtful choice
In order, drawing toward their wish’d-for home. By an unthought-of patron. Bleak and bare
Rock'd by the motion of a trusty ass,

They found the cottage, their allotted home; Two ruddy children hung, a well-poised freight, Naked without, and rude within ; a spot Each in his basket nodding drowsily;

With which the scantily provided cure Their bonnets, I remember, wreathed with flowers, | Not long had been endowed: and far remote Which told it was the pleasant month of June; The chapel stood, divided from that house And, close behind, the comely matron rode, By an unpeopled tract of mountain waste. A woman of soft speech and gracious smile, Yet cause was none, whate'er regret might hang And with a lady's mien. From far they came, On his own mind, to quarrel with the choice E'en from Northumbrian hills; yet theirs had been Or the necessity that fix'd him here: A merry journey, rich in pastime, cheerd

| Apart from old temptations, and constrain'd By music, prank, and laughter-stirring jest; To punctual labour in his sacred charge. And freak put on, and arch word dropp'd, to swell See him a constant preacher to the poor! The cloud of fancy and uncouth surmise

And visiting, though not with saintly zeal, That gather'd round the slowly-moving train. Yet when need was, with no reluctant will, • Whence do they come ? and with what errand | The sick in body, or distrest in mind; charged?

And, by his salutary change, compellid Belong they to the fortune-telling tribe

To rise from timely sleep, and meet the day Who pitch their tents beneath the green-wood tree? | With no engagement, in his thoughts, more proud Or are they strollers, furnish'd to enact

Or splendid than his garden could afford, Fair Rosamond, and the Children of the Wood, His fields, or mountains by the heath-cock ranged, And, by that whisker'd tabby's aid, set forth Or the wild brooks; from which he now return'd The lucky venture of sage Whittington,

Contented to partake the quiet meal When the next village hears the show announced of his own board, where sate his gentle mate By blast of trumpet ?' Plenteous was the growth and three fair children, plentifully fed Of such conjectures, overheard, or seen

Though simply, from their little household farm; On many a staring countenance portray'd

With acceptable treat of fish or fow]
Of boor or burgher, as they march'd along. By nature yielded to his practised hand-
And more than once their steadiness of face

To help the small but certain comings-in
Was put to proof, and exercise supplied

Of that spare benefice. Yet not the less To their inventive humour, by stern looks,

Theirs was a hospitable board, and theirs And questions in authoritative tone.

A charitable door. So days and years From some staid guardian of the public peace, Pass'd on; the inside of that rugged house Checking the sober steed on which he rode, Was trimm'd and brightend by the matron's care, In his suspicious wisdom: oftener still,

And gradually enrich'd with things of price, By notice indirect, or blunt demand

Which might be lack'd for use or ornament. From traveller halting in his own despite,

What though no soft and costly sofa there A simple curiosity to ease;

Insidiously stretch'd out its lazy length, of which adventures, that beguiled and cheer'd And no vain mirror glitter'd on the walls, Their grave migration, the good pair would tell, Yet were the windows of the low abode With undiminish'd glee, in hoary age.

By shutters weather-fended, which at once " A priest he was by function; but his course Repell’d the storm and deaden'd its loud roar. From his youth up, and high as manhood's noon, | There snow-white curtains hung in decent folds; (The hour of life to which he then was brought,) Tough moss, and long-enduring mountain plants, Had been irregular, I might say, wild;

That creep along the ground with sinuous trail, By books unsteadied, by his pastoral care

Were nicely braided, and composed a work Too little check'd. An active, ardent mind; Like Indian mats, that with appropriate grace A fancy pregnant with resource and scheme Lay at the threshold and the inner doors ;

And a fair carpet, woven of homespun wool, And the lone privileged house left empty-swept But tinctured daintily with florid hues,

As by a plague: yet no rapacious plague For seemliness and warmth, on festal days, Had been among them ; all was gentle death, Cover'd the smooth blue slabs of mountain stone One after one, with intervals of peace. With which the parlour floor, in simplest guise A happy consummation ! an accord Of pastoral homesteads, had been long inlaid. Sweet, perfect-to be wish'd for! save that here These pleasing works the housewife's skill pro Was something which to mortal sense might sound duced :

Like harshness,—that the old gray-headed sire, Meanwhile the unsédentary master's hand

The oldest, he was taken last,-survived Was busier with his task-to rid, to plant,

When the meek partner of his age, his son, To rear for food, for shelter, and delight;

His daughter, and that late and high-prized gift, A thriving covert! And when wishes, formid His little smiling grandchild, were no more. In youth, and sanction'd by the riper mind,

« All gone, all vanish'd! he deprived and bare Restored me to my native valley, here

How will he face the remnant of his life? To end my days; well pleased was I to see

What will become of him ?' we said, and mused The once bare cottage, on the mountain side, In sad conjectures-- Shall we meet him now Screen'd from assault of every bitter blast;

Haupting with rod and line the craggy brooks? While the dark shadows of the summer leaves Or shall we overhear him, as we pass, Danced in the breeze, upon its mossy roof.

Striving to entertain the lonely hours Time, which had thus afforded willing help With music?''(for he had not ceased to touch To beautify with nature's fairest growth

The harp or viol which himself had framed, This rustic tenement, had gently shed,

For their sweet purposes, with perfect skill.) Upon its master's frame, a wintry grace;

• What titles will he keep? will he remain The comeliness of unenfeebled age.

Musician, gardener, builder, mechanist, But how could I say, gently? for be still

A planter, and a rearer from the seed? Retain'd a flashing eye, a burning palm,

A man of hope and forward looking mind A stirring foot, a head which beat at nights

E’en to the last ! Such was he, unsubdued. Upon its pillow with a thousand schemes.

But Heaven was gracious : yet a little while, Few likings had he dropp'd, few pleasures lost; And this survivor, with his cheerful throng Generous and charitable, prompt to serve ;

Of open schemes, and all his inward hoard And still his barsher passions kept their hold, Of unsunn'd griefs, too many and too keen, Anger and indignation : still he loved

Was overcome by unexpected sleep, The sound of titled names, and talk'd in glee In one blest moment. Like a shadow thrown Of long past banquetings with high-born friends : Softly and lightly from a passing cloud, Then, from those lulling fits of vain delight Death fell upon him, while reclined he lay Uproused by recollected injury, rail'd

For noontide solace on the summer grass, At their false ways disdainfully,--and oft

The warm lap of his mother earth: and so, In bitterness, and with a threatening eye

Their lenient term of separation past, Of fire, incensed beneath its hoary brow.

That family (whose graves you there behold) These transports, with staid looks of pure good will By yet a higher privilege once more And with soft smile, his consort would reprove. Were gather'd to each other.” She far behind him in the race of years,

Calm of mind Yet keeping her first mildness, was advanced And silence waited on these closing words; Far nearer, in the habit of her soul,

Until the wanderer (whether moved by fear To that still region whither all are bound.

Lest in those passages of life were some Him rnight we liken to the setting sun

That might have touch'd the sick heart of his friend As seen not seldom on some gusty day,

Too nearly, or intent to reinforce Struggling and bold, and shining from the west His own firm spirit in degree deprest With an inconstant and unmellow'd light;

By tender sorrow for our mortal state) She was a soft attendant cloud, that hung

Thus silence broke: “ Behold a thoughtless man As if with wish to veil the restless orb;

From vice and premature decay preserved From which it did itself imbibe a ray

By useful habits, to a fitter soil Of pleasing lustre. But no more of this ;

Transplanted ere too late. The hermit, lodged I better love to sprinkle on the sod

In the untrodden desert, tells his beads,
That now divides the pair, or rather say

With each repeating its allotted prayer,
That still unites them, praises, like heaven's dow, And thus divides and thus relieves the time;
Without reserve descending upon both.

Smooth task, with his compared, whose mind could « Our very first in eminence of years

string, This old man stood, the patriarch of the vale ! Not scantily, bright minutes on the thread And, to his unmolested mansion, death

A keen domestic anguish,—and beguile Had never come, through space of forty years ; Of solitude, unchosen, unprofess'd; Sparing both old and young in that abode.

Till gentlest death released him. Far from us Suddenly then they disappear'd: not twice

Be the desire-too curiously to ask
Had summer scorch'd the fields : not twice had fall’n How much of this is but the blind result
On those high peaks, the first autumnal snow, Of cordial spirits and vital temperament,
Before the greedy visiting was closed,

| And what to higher powers is justly due.

« ZurückWeiter »