HAIL to the crown by Freedom shaped--to gird An English Sovereign's brow! and to the throne Whereon he sits! Whose deep foundations lie In veneration and the people's love; Whose steps are equity, whose seat is law. --Hail to the State of England! And conjoin With this a salutation as devout, Made to the spiritual fabric of her Church; Founded in truth; by blood of Martyrdom Cemented; by the hands of Wisdom reared 10 In beauty of holiness, with ordered pomp, Decent and unreproved. The voice, that greets The majesty of both, shall pray for both; That, mutually protected and sustained, They may endure long as the sea surrounds This favoured Land, or sunshine warms her soil. And O, ye swelling hills, and spacious plains Besprent from shore to shore with steeple-towers, And spires whose 'silent finger points to heaven; Nor wanting, at wide intervals, the bulk 20 Of ancient minster lifted above the cloud Of the dense air, which town or city breeds To intercept the sun's glad beams--may ne'er That true succession fail of English hearts, Who, with ancestral feeling, can perceive What in those holy structures ye possess Of ornamental interest, and the charm Of pious sentiment diffused afar, And human charity, and social love. --Thus never shall the indignities of time 30 Approach their reverend graces, unopposed; Nor shall the elements be free to hurt Their fair proportions; nor the blinder rage Of bigot zeal madly to overturn; And, if the desolating hand of war Spare them, they shall continue to bestow Upon the thronged abodes of busy men (Depraved, and ever prone to fill the mind Exclusively with transitory things) An air and mien of dignified pursuit; 40 Of sweet civility, on rustic wilds. The Poet, fostering for his native land Such hope, entreats that servants may abound Of those pure altars worthy; ministers Detached from pleasure, to the love of gain Superior, insusceptible of pride, And by ambitious longings undisturbed; Men, whose delight is where their duty leads Or fixes them; whose least distinguished day Shines with some portion of that heavenly lustre 50 Which makes the sabbath lovely in the sight Of blessed angels, pitying human cares. --And, as on earth it is the doom of truth To be perpetually attacked by foes Open or covert, be that priesthood still, For her defence, replenished with a band Of strenuous champions, in scholastic arts Thoroughly disciplined; nor (if in course Of the revolving world's disturbances Cause should recur, which righteous Heaven avert! 60 To meet such trial) from their spiritual sires Degenerate; who, constrained to wield the sword Of disputation, shrunk not, though assailed With hostile din, and combating in sight Of angry umpires, partial and unjust; And did, thereafter, bathe their hands in fire, So to declare the conscience satisfied: Nor for their bodies would accept release; But, blessing God and praising him, bequeathed With their last breath, from out the smouldering flame, 70 The faith which they by diligence had earned, Or, through illuminating grace, received, For their dear countrymen, and all mankind. O high example, constancy divine! Even such a Man (inheriting the zeal And from the sanctity of elder times Not deviating,--a priest, the like of whom If multiplied, and in their stations set, Would o'er the bosom of a joyful land Spread true religion and her genuine fruits) 80 Before me stood that day; on holy ground Fraught with the relics of mortality, Exalting tender themes, by just degrees To lofty raised; and to the highest, last; The head and mighty paramount of truths,-- Immortal life, in never-fading worlds, For mortal creatures, conquered and secured. That basis laid, those principles of faith Announced, as a preparatory act Of reverence done to the spirit of the place, 90 The Pastor cast his eyes upon the ground; Not, as before, like one oppressed with awe But with a mild and social cheerfulness; Then to the Solitary turned, and spake. "At morn or eve, in your retired domain, Perchance you not unfrequently have marked A Visitor--in quest of herbs and flowers; Too delicate employ, as would appear, For one, who, though of drooping mien, had yet From nature's kindliness received a frame 100 Robust as ever rural labour bred." The Solitary answered: "Such a Form Full well I recollect. We often crossed Each other's path; but, as the Intruder seemed Fondly to prize the silence which he kept, And I as willingly did cherish mine, We met, and passed, like shadows. I have heard, From my good Host, that being crazed in brain By unrequited love, he scaled the rocks, Dived into caves, and pierced the matted woods, 110 In hope to find some virtuous herb of power To cure his malady!" The Vicar smiled,-- "Alas! before to-morrow's sun goes down His habitation will be here: for him That open grave is destined." "Died he then Of pain and grief?" the Solitary asked, "Do not believe it; never could that be!" "He loved," the Vicar answered, "deeply loved, Loved fondly, truly, fervently; and dared At length to tell his love, but sued in vain; 120 Rejected, yea repelled; and, if with scorn Upon the haughty maiden's brow, 'tis but A high-prized plume which female Beauty wears In wantonness of conquest, or puts on To cheat the world, or from herself to hide Humiliation, when no longer free. 'That' he could brook, and glory in;--but when The tidings came that she whom he had wooed Was wedded to another, and his heart Was forced to rend away its only hope; 130 Then, Pity could have scarcely found on earth An object worthier of regard than he, In the transition of that bitter hour! Lost was she, lost; nor could the Sufferer say That in the act of preference he had been Unjustly dealt with; but the Maid was gone! Had vanished from his prospects and desires; Not by translation to the heavenly choir Who have put off their mortal spoils--ah no! She lives another's wishes to complete,-- 140 'Joy be their lot, and happiness,' he cried, 'His lot and hers, as misery must be mine!' Such was that strong concussion; but the Man, Who trembled, trunk and limbs, like some huge oak By a fierce tempest shaken, soon resumed The stedfast quiet natural to a mind Of composition gentle and sedate, And, in its movements, circumspect and slow. To books, and to the long-forsaken desk, O'er which enchained by science he had loved 150 To bend, he stoutly re-addressed himself, Resolved to quell his pain, and search for truth With keener appetite (if that might be) And closer industry. Of what ensued Within the heart no outward sign appeared Till a betraying sickliness was seen To tinge his cheek; and through his frame it crept With slow mutation unconcealable; Such universal change as autumn makes In the fair body of a leafy grove, 160 Discoloured, then divested. 'Tis affirmed By poets skilled in nature's secret ways That Love will not submit to be controlled By mastery:--and the good Man lacked not friends Who strove to instil this truth into his mind, A mind in all heart-mysteries unversed. 'Go to the hills,' said one, 'remit a while 'This baneful diligence:--at early morn 'Court the fresh air, explore the heaths and woods; 'And, leaving it to others to foretell, 170 'By calculations sage, the ebb and flow 'Of tides, and when the moon will be eclipsed, 'Do you, for your own benefit, construct 'A calendar of flowers, plucked as they blow 'Where health abides, and cheerfulness, and peace.' The attempt was made;--'tis needless to report How hopelessly; but innocence is strong, And an entire simplicity of mind A thing most sacred in the eye of Heaven; That opens, for such sufferers, relief 180 Within the soul, fountains of grace divine; And doth commend their weakness and disease To Nature's care, assisted in her office By all the elements that round her wait To generate, to preserve, and to restore; And by her beautiful array of forms Shedding sweet influence from above; or pure Delight exhaling from the ground they tread." "Impute it not to impatience, if," exclaimed The Wanderer, "I infer that he was healed 190 By perseverance in the course prescribed." "You do not err: the powers, that had been lost By slow degrees, were gradually regained; The fluttering nerves composed; the beating heart In rest established; and the jarring thoughts To harmony restored.--But yon dark mould Will cover him, in the fulness of his strength, Hastily smitten by a fever's force; Yet not with stroke so sudden as refused Time to look back with tenderness on her 200 Whom he had loved in passion; and to send Some farewell words--with one, but one, request; That, from his dying hand, she would accept Of his possessions that which most he prized; A book, upon whose leaves some chosen plants, By his own hand disposed with nicest care, In undecaying beauty were preserved; Mute register, to him, of time and place, And various fluctuations in the breast; To her, a monument of faithful love 210 Conquered, and in tranquillity retained! Close to his destined habitation, lies One who achieved a humbler victory, Though marvellous in its kind. A place there is High in these mountains, that allured a band Of keen adventurers to unite their pains In search of precious ore: they tried, were foiled-- And all desisted, all, save him alone. He, taking counsel of his own clear thoughts, And trusting only to his own weak hands, 220 Urged unremittingly the stubborn work, Unseconded, uncountenanced; then, as time Passed on, while still his lonely efforts found No recompense, derided; and at length, By many pitied, as insane of mind; By others dreaded as the luckless thrall Of subterranean Spirits feeding hope By various mockery of sight and sound; Hope after hope, encouraged and destroyed. --But when the lord of seasons had matured 230 The fruits of earth through space of twice ten years, The mountain's entrails offered to his view And trembling grasp the long-deferred reward. Not with more transport did Columbus greet A world, his rich discovery! But our Swain, A very hero till his point was gained, Proved all unable to support the weight Of prosperous fortune. On the fields he looked With an unsettled liberty of thought, Wishes and endless schemes; by daylight walked 240 Giddy and restless; ever and anon Quaffed in his gratitude immoderate cups; And truly might be said to die of joy! He vanished; but conspicuous to this day The path remains that linked his cottage-door To the mine's mouth; a long and slanting track, Upon the rugged mountain's stony side, Worn by his daily visits to and from The darksome centre of a constant hope. This vestige, neither force of beating rain, 250 Nor the vicissitudes of frost and thaw Shall cause to fade, till ages pass away; And it is named, in memory of the event, The PATH OF PERSEVERANCE." "Thou from whom Man has his strength," exclaimed the Wanderer, "oh! Do thou direct it! To the virtuous grant The penetrative eye which can perceive In this blind world the guiding vein of hope; That, like this Labourer, such may dig their way, 'Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified;' 260 Grant to the wise 'his' firmness of resolve!" "That prayer were not superfluous," said the Priest, "Amid the noblest relics, proudest dust, That Westminster, for Britain's glory, holds Within the bosom of her awful pile, Ambitiously collected. Yet the sigh, Which wafts that prayer to heaven, is due to all, Wherever laid, who living fell below Their virtue's humbler mark; a sigh of 'pain' If to the opposite extreme they sank. 270 How would you pity her who yonder rests; Him, farther off; the pair, who here are laid; But, above all, that mixture of earth's mould Whom sight of this green hillock to my mind Recalls! 'He' lived not till his locks were nipped By seasonable frost of age; nor died Before his temples, prematurely forced To mix the manly brown with silver grey, Gave obvious instance of the sad effect Produced, when thoughtless Folly hath usurped 280 The natural crown that sage Experience wears. Gay, volatile, ingenious, quick to learn, And prompt to exhibit all that he possessed Or could perform; a zealous actor, hired Into the troop of mirth, a soldier, sworn Into the lists of giddy enterprise-- Such was he; yet, as if within his frame Two several souls alternately had lodged, Two sets of manners could the Youth put on; And, fraught with antics as the Indian bird 290 That writhes and chatters in her wiry cage, Was graceful, when it pleased him, smooth and still As the mute swan that floats adown the stream, Or, on the waters of the unruffled lake, Anchors her placid beauty. Not a leaf, That flutters on the bough, lighter than he; And not a flower, that droops in the green shade, More winningly reserved! If ye enquire How such consummate elegance was bred Amid these wilds, this answer may suffice; 300 'Twas Nature's will; who sometimes undertakes, For the reproof of human vanity, Art to outstrip in her peculiar walk. Hence, for this Favourite--lavishly endowed With personal gifts, and bright instinctive wit, While both, embellishing each other, stood Yet farther recommended by the charm Of fine demeanour, and by dance and song, And skill in letters--every fancy shaped Fair expectations; nor, when to the world's 310 Capacious field forth went the Adventurer, there Were he and his attainments overlooked, Or scantily rewarded; but all hopes, Cherished for him, he suffered to depart, Like blighted buds; or clouds that mimicked land Before the sailor's eye; or diamond drops That sparkling decked the morning grass; or aught That 'was' attractive, and hath ceased to be! Yet, when this Prodigal returned, the rites Of joyful greeting were on him bestowed, 320 Who, by humiliation undeterred, Sought for his weariness a place of rest Within his Father's gates.--Whence came he?--clothed In tattered garb, from hovels where abides Necessity, the stationary host Of vagrant poverty; from rifted barns Where no one dwells but the wide-staring owl And the owl's prey; from these bare haunts, to which He had descended from the proud saloon, He came, the ghost of beauty and of health, 330 The wreck of gaiety! But soon revived In strength, in power refitted, he renewed His suit to Fortune; and she smiled again Upon a fickle Ingrate. Thrice he rose, Thrice sank as willingly. For he--whose nerves Were used to thrill with pleasure, while his voice Softly accompanied the tuneful harp, By the nice finger of fair ladies touched In glittering halls--was able to derive No less enjoyment from an abject choice. 340 Who happier for the moment--who more blithe Than this fallen Spirit? in those dreary holds His talents lending to exalt the freaks Of merry-making beggars,--nor provoked To laughter multiplied in louder peals By his malicious wit; then, all enchained With mute astonishment, themselves to see In their own arts outdone, their fame eclipsed, As by the very presence of the Fiend Who dictates and inspires illusive feats, 350 For knavish purposes! The city, too, (With shame I speak it) to her guilty bowers Allured him, sunk so low in self-respect As there to linger, there to eat his bread, Hired minstrel of voluptuous blandishment; Charming the air with skill of hand or voice, Listen who would, be wrought upon who might, Sincerely wretched hearts, or falsely gay. --Such the too frequent tenor of his boast In ears that relished the report;--but all 360 Was from his Parents happily concealed; Who saw enough for blame and pitying love. They also were permitted to receive His last, repentant breath; and closed his eyes, No more to open on that irksome world Where he had long existed in the state Of a young fowl beneath one mother hatched, Though from another sprung, different in kind: Where he had lived, and could not cease to live, Distracted in propensity; content 370 With neither element of good or ill; And yet in both rejoicing; man unblest; Of contradictions infinite the slave, Till his deliverance, when Mercy made him One with himself, and one with them that sleep." "'Tis strange," observed the Solitary, "strange It seems, and scarcely less than pitiful, That in a land where charity provides For all that can no longer feed themselves, A man like this should choose to bring his shame 380 To the parental door; and with his sighs Infect the air which he had freely breathed In happy infancy. He could not pine, Through lack of converse; no--he must have found Abundant exercise for thought and speech, In his dividual being, self-reviewed, Self-catechised, self-punished.--Some there are Who, drawing near their final home, and much And daily longing that the same were reached, Would rather shun than seek the fellowship 390 Of kindred mould.--Such haply here are laid?" "Yes," said the Priest, "the Genius of our hills-- Who seems, by these stupendous barriers cast Round his domain, desirous not alone To keep his own, but also to exclude All other progeny--doth sometimes lure, Even by his studied depth of privacy, The unhappy alien hoping to obtain Concealment, or seduced by wish to find, In place from outward molestation free, 400 Helps to internal ease. Of many such Could I discourse; but as their stay was brief, So their departure only left behind Fancies, and loose conjectures. Other trace Survives, for worthy mention, of a pair Who, from the pressure of their several fates, Meeting as strangers, in a petty town Whose blue roofs ornament a distant reach Of this far-winding vale, remained as friends True to their choice; and gave their bones in trust 410 To this loved cemetery, here to lodge With unescutcheoned privacy interred Far from the family vault.--A Chieftain one By right of birth; within whose spotless breast The fire of ancient Caledonia burned: He, with the foremost whose impatience hailed The Stuart, landing to resume, by force Of arms, the crown which bigotry had lost, Aroused his clan; and, fighting at their head, With his brave sword endeavoured to prevent 420 Culloden's fatal overthrow. Escaped From that disastrous rout, to foreign shores He fled; and when the lenient hand of time Those troubles had appeased, he sought and gained, For his obscured condition, an obscure Retreat, within this nook of English ground. The other, born in Britain's southern tract, Had fixed his milder loyalty, and placed His gentler sentiments of love and hate, There, where 'they' placed them who in conscience prized 430 The new succession, as a line of kings Whose oath had virtue to protect the land Against the dire assaults of papacy And arbitrary rule. But launch thy bark On the distempered flood of public life, And cause for most rare triumph will be thine If, spite of keenest eye and steadiest hand, The stream, that bears thee forward, prove not, soon Or late, a perilous master. He--who oft, Beneath the battlements and stately trees 440 That round his mansion cast a sober gloom, Had moralised on this, and other truths Of kindred import, pleased and satisfied-- Was forced to vent his wisdom with a sigh Heaved from the heart in fortune's bitterness, When he had crushed a plentiful estate By ruinous contest, to obtain a seat In Britain's senate. Fruitless was the attempt; And while the uproar of that desperate strife Continued yet to vibrate on his ear, 450 The vanquished Whig, under a borrowed name, (For the mere sound and echo of his own Haunted him with sensations of disgust That he was glad to lose) slunk from the world To the deep shade of those untravelled Wilds; In which the Scottish Laird had long possessed An undisturbed abode. Here, then, they met, Two doughty champions; flaming Jacobite And sullen Hanoverian! You might think That losses and vexations, less severe 460 Than those which they had severally sustained, Would have inclined each to abate his zeal For his ungrateful cause; no,--I have heard My reverend Father tell that, 'mid the calm Of that small town encountering thus, they filled, Daily, its bowling-green with harmless strife; Plagued with uncharitable thoughts the church; And vexed the market-place. But in the breasts Of these opponents gradually was wrought, With little change of general sentiment, 470 Such leaning towards each other, that their days By choice were spent in constant fellowship; And if, at times, they fretted with the yoke, Those very bickerings made them love it more. A favourite boundary to their lengthened walks This Churchyard was. And, whether they had come Treading their path in sympathy and linked In social converse, or by some short space Discreetly parted to preserve the peace, One spirit seldom failed to extend its sway 480 Over both minds, when they awhile had marked The visible quiet of this holy ground, And breathed its soothing air:--the spirit of hope And saintly magnanimity; that--spurning The field of selfish difference and dispute, And every care which transitory things, Earth and the kingdoms of the earth, create-- Doth, by a rapture of forgetfulness, Preclude forgiveness, from the praise debarred, Which else the Christian virtue might have claimed. 490 There live who yet remember here to have seen Their courtly figures, seated on the stump Of an old yew, their favourite resting-place. But as the remnant of the long-lived tree Was disappearing by a swift decay, They, with joint care, determined to erect, Upon its site, a dial, that might stand For public use preserved, and thus survive As their own private monument: for this Was the particular spot, in which they wished 500 (And Heaven was pleased to accomplish the desire) That, undivided, their remains should lie. So, where the mouldered tree had stood, was raised Yon structure, framing, with the ascent of steps That to the decorated pillar lead, A work of art more sumptuous than might seem To suit this place; yet built in no proud scorn Of rustic homeliness; they only aimed To ensure for it respectful guardianship. Around the margin of the plate, whereon 510 The shadow falls to note the stealthy hours, Winds an inscriptive legend."--At these words Thither we turned; and gathered, as we read, The appropriate sense, in Latin numbers couched: 'Time flies; it is his melancholy task, To bring, and bear away, delusive hopes, And re-produce the troubles he destroys. But, while his blindness thus is occupied, Discerning Mortal! do thou serve the will Of Time's eternal Master, and that peace, 520 Which the world wants, shall be for thee confirmed!' "Smooth verse, inspired by no unlettered Muse," Exclaimed the Sceptic, "and the strain of thought Accords with nature's language;--the soft voice Of yon white torrent falling down the rocks Speaks, less distinctly, to the same effect. If, then, their blended influence be not lost Upon our hearts, not wholly lost, I grant, Even upon mine, the more are we required To feel for those among our fellow-men, 530 Who, offering no obeisance to the world, Are yet made desperate by 'too quick a sense Of constant infelicity,' cut off From peace like exiles on some barren rock, Their life's appointed prison; not more free Than sentinels, between two armies, set, With nothing better, in the chill night air, Than their own thoughts to comfort them. Say why That ancient story of Prometheus chained To the bare rock on frozen Caucasus; 540 The vulture, the inexhaustible repast Drawn from his vitals? Say what meant the woes By Tantalus entailed upon his race, And the dark sorrows of the line of Thebes? Fictions in form, but in their substance truths, Tremendous truths! familiar to the men Of long-past times, nor obsolete in ours. Exchange the shepherd's frock of native grey For robes with regal purple tinged; convert The crook into a sceptre; give the pomp 550 Of circumstance; and here the tragic Muse Shall find apt subjects for her highest art. Amid the groves, under the shadowy hills, The generations are prepared; the pangs, The internal pangs, are ready; the dread strife Of poor humanity's afflicted will Struggling in vain with ruthless destiny." "Though," said the Priest in answer, "these be terms Which a divine philosophy rejects, We, whose established and unfailing trust 560 Is in controlling Providence, admit That, through all stations, human life abounds With mysteries;--for, if Faith were left untried, How could the might, that lurks within her, then Be shown? her glorious excellence--that ranks Among the first of Powers and Virtues--proved? Our system is not fashioned to preclude That sympathy which you for others ask; And I could tell, not travelling for my theme Beyond these humble graves, of grievous crimes 570 And strange disasters; but I pass them by, Loth to disturb what Heaven hath hushed in peace. --Still less, far less, am I inclined to treat Of Man degraded in his Maker's sight By the deformities of brutish vice: For, in such portraits, though a vulgar face And a coarse outside of repulsive life And unaffecting manners might at once Be recognised by all"--"Ah! do not think," The Wanderer somewhat eagerly exclaimed, 580 "Wish could be ours that you, for such poor gain, (Gain shall I call it?--gain of what?--for whom?) Should breathe a word tending to violate Your own pure spirit. Not a step we look for In slight of that forbearance and reserve Which common human-heartedness inspires, And mortal ignorance and frailty claim, Upon this sacred ground, if nowhere else." "True," said the Solitary, "be it far From us to infringe the laws of charity. 590 Let judgment here in mercy be pronounced; This, self-respecting Nature prompts, and this Wisdom enjoins; but if the thing we seek Be genuine knowledge, bear we then in mind How, from his lofty throne, the sun can fling Colours as bright on exhalations bred By weedy pool or pestilential swamp, As by the rivulet sparkling where it runs, Or the pellucid lake." "Small risk," said I, "Of such illusion do we here incur; 600 Temptation here is none to exceed the truth; No evidence appears that they who rest Within this ground, were covetous of praise, Or of remembrance even, deserved or not. Green is the Churchyard, beautiful and green, Ridge rising gently by the side of ridge, A heaving surface, almost wholly free From interruption of sepulchral stones, And mantled o'er with aboriginal turf And everlasting flowers. These Dalesmen trust 610 The lingering gleam of their departed lives To oral record, and the silent heart; Depositories faithful and more kind Than fondest epitaph: for, if those fail, What boots the sculptured tomb? And who can blame, Who rather would not envy, men that feel This mutual confidence; if, from such source, The practice flow,--if thence, or from a deep And general humility in death? Nor should I much condemn it, if it spring 620 From disregard of time's destructive power, As only capable to prey on things Of earth, and human nature's mortal part. Yet--in less simple districts, where we see Stone lift its forehead emulous of stone In courting notice; and the ground all paved With commendations of departed worth; Reading, where'er we turn, of innocent lives, Of each domestic charity fulfilled, And sufferings meekly borne--I, for my part, 630 Though with the silence pleased that here prevails, Among those fair recitals also range, Soothed by the natural spirit which they breathe. And, in the centre of a world whose soil Is rank with all unkindness, compassed round With such memorials, I have sometimes felt, It was no momentary happiness To have 'one' Enclosure where the voice that speaks In envy or detraction is not heard; Which malice may not enter; where the traces 640 Of evil inclinations are unknown; Where love and pity tenderly unite With resignation; and no jarring tone Intrudes, the peaceful concert to disturb Of amity and gratitude." "Thus sanctioned," The Pastor said, "I willingly confine My narratives to subjects that excite Feelings with these accordant; love, esteem, And admiration; lifting up a veil, A sunbeam introducing among hearts 650 Retired and covert; so that ye shall have Clear images before your gladdened eyes Of nature's unambitious underwood, And flowers that prosper in the shade. And when I speak of such among my flock as swerved Or fell, those only shall be singled out Upon whose lapse, or error, something more Than brotherly forgiveness may attend; To such will we restrict our notice, else Better my tongue were mute. And yet there are, 660 I feel, good reasons why we should not leave Wholly untraced a more forbidding way. For, strength to persevere and to support, And energy to conquer and repel-- These elements of virtue, that declare The native grandeur of the human soul-- Are oft-times not unprofitably shown In the perverseness of a selfish course: Truth every day exemplified, no less In the grey cottage by the murmuring stream 670 Than in fantastic conqueror's roving camp, Or 'mid the factious senate, unappalled Whoe'er may sink, or rise--to sink again, As merciless proscription ebbs and flows. There," said the Vicar, pointing as he spake, "A woman rests in peace; surpassed by few In power of mind, and eloquent discourse. Tall was her stature; her complexion dark And saturnine; her head not raised to hold Converse with heaven, nor yet deprest towards earth, 680 But in projection carried, as she walked For ever musing. Sunken were her eyes; Wrinkled and furrowed with habitual thought Was her broad forehead; like the brow of one Whose visual nerve shrinks from a painful glare Of overpowering light.--While yet a child, She, 'mid the humble flowerets of the vale, Towered like the imperial thistle, not unfurnished With its appropriate grace, yet rather seeking To be admired, than coveted and loved. 690 Even at that age she ruled, a sovereign queen, Over her comrades; else their simple sports, Wanting all relish for her strenuous mind, Had crossed her only to be shunned with scorn, --Oh! pang of sorrowful regret for those Whom, in their youth, sweet study has enthralled, That they have lived for harsher servitude, Whether in soul, in body, or estate! Such doom was hers; yet nothing could subdue Her keen desire of knowledge, nor efface 700 Those brighter images by books imprest Upon her memory, faithfully as stars That occupy their places, and, though oft Hidden by clouds, and oft bedimmed by haze, Are not to be extinguished, nor impaired. Two passions, both degenerate, for they both Began in honour, gradually obtained Rule over her, and vexed her daily life; An unremitting, avaricious thrift; And a strange thraldom of maternal love, 710 That held her spirit, in its own despite, Bound--by vexation, and regret, and scorn, Constrained forgiveness, and relenting vows, And tears, in pride suppressed, in shame concealed-- To a poor dissolute Son, her only child. --Her wedded days had opened with mishap, Whence dire dependence. What could she perform To shake the burthen off? Ah! there was felt, Indignantly, the weakness of her sex. She mused, resolved, adhered to her resolve; 720 The hand grew slack in alms-giving, the heart Closed by degrees to charity; heaven's blessing Not seeking from that source, she placed her trust In ceaseless pains--and strictest parsimony Which sternly hoarded all that could be spared, From each day's need, out of each day's least gain. Thus all was re-established, and a pile Constructed, that sufficed for every end, Save the contentment of the builder's mind; A mind by nature indisposed to aught 730 So placid, so inactive, as content; A mind intolerant of lasting peace, And cherishing the pang her heart deplored. Dread life of conflict! which I oft compared To the agitation of a brook that runs Down a rocky mountain, buried now and lost In silent pools, now in strong eddies chained; But never to be charmed to gentleness: Its best attainment fits of such repose As timid eyes might shrink from fathoming. 740 A sudden illness seized her in the strength Of life's autumnal season.--Shall I tell How on her bed of death the Matron lay, To Providence submissive, so she thought; But fretted, vexed, and wrought upon, almost To anger, by the malady that griped Her prostrate frame with unrelaxing power, As the fierce eagle fastens on the lamb? She prayed, she moaned;--her husband's sister watched Her dreary pillow, waited on her needs; 750 And yet the very sound of that kind foot Was anguish to her ears! 'And must she rule,' This was the death-doomed Woman heard to say In bitterness, 'and must she rule and reign, 'Sole Mistress of this house, when I am gone? 'Tend what I tended, calling it her own!' Enough;--I fear, too much.--One vernal evening, While she was yet in prime of health and strength, I well remember, while I passed her door Alone, with loitering step, and upward eye 760 Turned towards the planet Jupiter that hung Above the centre of the Vale, a voice Roused me, her voice; it said, 'That glorious star 'In its untroubled element will shine 'As now it shines, when we are laid in earth 'And safe from all our sorrows.' With a sigh She spake, yet, I believe, not unsustained By faith in glory that shall far transcend Aught by these perishable heavens disclosed To sight or mind. Nor less than care divine 770 Is divine mercy. She, who had rebelled, Was into meekness softened and subdued; Did, after trials not in vain prolonged, With resignation sink into the grave; And her uncharitable acts, I trust, And harsh unkindnesses are all forgiven, Tho', in this Vale, remembered with deep awe." _____________ THE Vicar paused; and toward a seat advanced, A long stone-seat, fixed in the Churchyard wall; Part shaded by cool sycamore, and part 780 Offering a sunny resting-place to them Who seek the House of worship, while the bells Yet ring with all their voices, or before The last hath ceased its solitary knoll. Beneath the shade we all sate down; and there, His office, uninvited, he resumed. "As on a sunny bank, a tender lamb Lurks in safe shelter from the winds of March, Screened by its parent, so that little mound Lies guarded by its neighbour; the small heap 790 Speaks for itself; an Infant there doth rest; The sheltering hillock is the Mother's grave. If mild discourse, and manners that conferred A natural dignity on humblest rank; If gladsome spirits, and benignant looks, That for a face not beautiful did more Than beauty for the fairest face can do; And if religious tenderness of heart, Grieving for sin, and penitential tears Shed when the clouds had gathered and distained 800 The spotless ether of a maiden life; If these may make a hallowed spot of earth More holy in the sight of God or Man; Then, o'er that mould, a sanctity shall brood Till the stars sicken at the day of doom. Ah! what a warning for a thoughtless man, Could field or grove, could any spot of earth, Show to his eye an image of the pangs Which it hath witnessed; render back an echo Of the sad steps by which it hath been trod! 810 There, by her innocent Baby's precious grave, And on the very turf that roofs her own, The Mother oft was seen to stand, or kneel In the broad day, a weeping Magdalene. Now she is not; the swelling turf reports Of the fresh shower, but of poor Ellen's tears Is silent; nor is any vestige left Of the path worn by mournful tread of her Who, at her heart's light bidding, once had moved In virgin fearlessness, with step that seemed 820 Caught from the pressure of elastic turf Upon the mountains gemmed with morning dew, In the prime hour of sweetest scents and airs. --Serious and thoughtful was her mind; and yet, By reconcilement exquisite and rare, The form, port, motions, of this Cottage-girl Were such as might have quickened and inspired A Titian's hand, addrest to picture forth Oread or Dryad glancing through the shade What time the hunter's earliest horn is heard 830 Startling the golden hills. A wide-spread elm Stands in our valley, named THE JOYFUL TREE; From dateless usage which our peasants hold Of giving welcome to the first of May By dances round its trunk.--And if the sky Permit, like honours, dance and song, are paid To the Twelfth Night, beneath the frosty stars Or the clear moon. The queen of these gay sports, If not in beauty yet in sprightly air, Was hapless Ellen.--No one touched the ground 840 So deftly, and the nicest maiden's locks Less gracefully were braided;--but this praise, Methinks, would better suit another place. She loved, and fondly deemed herself beloved. --The road is dim, the current unperceived, The weakness painful and most pitiful, By which a virtuous woman, in pure youth, May be delivered to distress and shame. Such fate was hers.--The last time Ellen danced, Among her equals, round THE JOYFUL TREE, 850 She bore a secret burthen; and full soon Was left to tremble for a breaking vow,-- Then, to bewail a sternly-broken vow, Alone, within her widowed Mother's house. It was the season of unfolding leaves, Of days advancing toward their utmost length, And small birds singing happily to mates Happy as they. With spirit-saddening power Winds pipe through fading woods; but those blithe notes Strike the deserted to the heart; I speak 860 Of what I know, and what we feel within. --Beside the cottage in which Ellen dwelt Stands a tall ash-tree; to whose topmost twig A thrush resorts, and annually chants, At morn and evening from that naked perch, While all the undergrove is thick with leaves, A time-beguiling ditty, for delight Of his fond partner, silent in the nest. --'Ah why,' said Ellen, sighing to herself, 'Why do not words, and kiss, and solemn pledge; 870 'And nature that is kind in woman's breast, 'And reason that in man is wise and good, 'And fear of him who is a righteous judge; 'Why do not these prevail for human life, 'To keep two hearts together, that began 'Their spring-time with one love, and that have need 'Of mutual pity and forgiveness, sweet 'To grant, or be received; while that poor bird-- 'O come and hear him! Thou who hast to me 'Been faithless, hear him, though a lowly creature, 880 'One of God's simple children that yet know not 'The universal Parent, how he sings 'As if he wished the firmament of heaven 'Should listen, and give back to him the voice 'Of his triumphant constancy and love; 'The proclamation that he makes, how far 'His darkness doth transcend our fickle light!' Such was the tender passage, not by me Repeated without loss of simple phrase, Which I perused, even as the words had been 890 Committed by forsaken Ellen's hand To the blank margin of a Valentine, Bedropped with tears. 'Twill please you to be told That, studiously withdrawing from the eye Of all companionship, the Sufferer yet In lonely reading found a meek resource: How thankful for the warmth of summer days, When she could slip into the cottage-barn, And find a secret oratory there; Or, in the garden, under friendly veil 900 Of their long twilight, pore upon her book By the last lingering help of the open sky Until dark night dismissed her to her bed! Thus did a waking fancy sometimes lose The unconquerable pang of despised love. A kindlier passion opened on her soul When that poor Child was born. Upon its face She gazed as on a pure and spotless gift Of unexpected promise, where a grief Or dread was all that had been thought of,--joy 910 Far livelier than bewildered traveller feels, Amid a perilous waste that all night long Hath harassed him toiling through fearful storm, When he beholds the first pale speck serene Of day-spring, in the gloomy east, revealed, And greets it with thanksgiving. 'Till this hour,' Thus, in her Mother's hearing Ellen spake, 'There was a stony region in my heart; 'But He, at whose command the parched rock 'Was smitten, and poured forth a quenching stream, 920 'Hath softened that obduracy, and made 'Unlooked-for gladness in the desert place, 'To save the perishing; and, henceforth, I breathe 'The air with cheerful spirit, for thy sake 'My infant! and for that good Mother dear, 'Who bore me; and hath prayed for me in vain;-- 'Yet not in vain; it shall not be in vain.' She spake, nor was the assurance unfulfilled; And if heart-rending thoughts would oft return, They stayed not long.--The blameless Infant grew 930 The Child whom Ellen and her Mother loved They soon were proud of; tended it and nursed; A soothing comforter, although forlorn; Like a poor singing-bird from distant lands; Or a choice shrub, which he, who passes by With vacant mind, not seldom may observe Fair-flowering in a thinly-peopled house, Whose window, somewhat sadly, it adorns. Through four months' space the Infant drew its food From the maternal breast; then scruples rose; 940 Thoughts, which the rich are free from, came and crossed The fond affection. She no more could bear By her offence to lay a twofold weight On a kind parent willing to forget Their slender means: so, to that parent's care Trusting her child, she left their common home, And undertook with dutiful content A Foster-mother's office. 'Tis, perchance, Unknown to you that in these simple vales The natural feeling of equality 950 Is by domestic service unimpaired; Yet, though such service be, with us, removed From sense of degradation, not the less The ungentle mind can easily find means To impose severe restraints and laws unjust, Which hapless Ellen now was doomed to feel: For (blinded by an over-anxious dread Of such excitement and divided thought As with her office would but ill accord) The pair, whose infant she was bound to nurse, 960 Forbade her all communion with her own: Week after week, the mandate they enforced. --So near! yet not allowed, upon that sight To fix her eyes--alas! 'twas hard to bear! But worse affliction must be borne--far worse; For 'tis Heaven's will--that, after a disease Begun and ended within three days' space, Her child should die; as Ellen now exclaimed, Her own--deserted child!--Once, only once, She saw it in that mortal malady; 970 And, on the burial-day, could scarcely gain Permission to attend its obsequies. She reached the house, last of the funeral train; And some one, as she entered, having chanced To urge unthinkingly their prompt departure, 'Nay,' said she, with commanding look, a spirit Of anger never seen in her before, 'Nay, ye must wait my time!' and down she sate, And by the unclosed coffin kept her seat Weeping and looking, looking on and weeping, 980 Upon the last sweet slumber of her Child, Until at length her soul was satisfied. You see the Infant's Grave; and to this spot, The Mother, oft as she was sent abroad, On whatsoever errand, urged her steps: Hither she came; here stood, and sometimes knelt In the broad day, a rueful Magdalene! So call her; for not only she bewailed A mother's loss, but mourned in bitterness Her own transgression; penitent sincere 990 As ever raised to heaven a streaming eye? --At length the parents of the foster-child, Noting that in despite of their commands She still renewed and could not but renew Those visitations, ceased to send her forth; Or, to the garden's narrow bounds, confined. I failed not to remind them that they erred; For holy Nature might not thus be crossed, Thus wronged in woman's breast: in vain I pleaded-- But the green stalk of Ellen's life was snapped, 1000 And the flower drooped; as every eye could see, It hung its head in mortal languishment. --Aided by this appearance, I at length Prevailed; and, from those bonds released, she went Home to her mother's house. The Youth was fled; The rash betrayer could not face the shame Or sorrow which his senseless guilt had caused; And little would his presence, or proof given Of a relenting soul, have now availed; For, like a shadow, he was passed away 1010 From Ellen's thoughts; had perished to her mind For all concerns of fear, or hope, or love, Save only those which to their common shame, And to his moral being appertained: Hope from that quarter would, I know, have brought A heavenly comfort; there she recognised An unrelaxing bond, a mutual need; There, and, as seemed, there only. She had built, Her fond maternal heart had built, a nest In blindness all too near the river's edge; 1020 That work a summer flood with hasty swell Had swept away; and now her Spirit longed For its last flight to heaven's security. --The bodily frame wasted from day to day; Meanwhile, relinquishing all other cares, Her mind she strictly tutored to find peace And pleasure in endurance. Much she thought, And much she read; and brooded feelingly Upon her own unworthiness. To me, As to a spiritual comforter and friend, 1030 Her heart she opened; and no pains were spared To mitigate, as gently as I could, The sting of self-reproach, with healing words. Meek Saint! through patience glorified on earth! In whom, as by her lonely hearth she sate, The ghastly face of cold decay put on A sun-like beauty, and appeared divine! May I not mention--that, within those walls, In due observance of her pious wish, The congregation joined with me in prayer 1040 For her soul's good? Nor was that office vain. --Much did she suffer: but, if any friend, Beholding her condition, at the sight Gave way to words of pity or complaint, She stilled them with a prompt reproof, and said, 'He who afflicts me knows what I can bear; 'And, when I fail, and can endure no more, 'Will mercifully take me to himself.' So, through the cloud of death, her Spirit passed Into that pure and unknown world of love 1050 Where injury cannot come:--and here is laid The mortal Body by her Infant's side." The Vicar ceased; and downcast looks made known That each had listened with his inmost heart. For me, the emotion scarcely was less strong Or less benign than that which I had felt When seated near my venerable Friend, Under those shady elms, from him I heard The story that retraced the slow decline Of Margaret, sinking on the lonely heath 1060 With the neglected house to which she clung. --I noted that the Solitary's cheek Confessed the power of nature.--Pleased though sad, More pleased than sad, the grey-haired Wanderer sate; Thanks to his pure imaginative soul Capacious and serene; his blameless life, His knowledge, wisdom, love of truth, and love Of human kind! He was it who first broke The pensive silence, saying:-- "Blest are they Whose sorrow rather is to suffer wrong 1070 Than to do wrong, albeit themselves have erred. This tale gives proof that Heaven most gently deals With such, in their affliction.--Ellen's fate, Her tender spirit, and her contrite heart, Call to my mind dark hints which I have heard Of one who died within this vale, by doom Heavier, as his offence was heavier far. Where, Sir, I pray you, where are laid the bones Of Wilfrid Armathwaite?" The Vicar answered, "In that green nook, close by the Churchyard wall, 1080 Beneath yon hawthorn, planted by myself In memory and for warning, and in sign Of sweetness where dire anguish had been known, Of reconcilement after deep offence-- There doth he rest. No theme his fate supplies For the smooth glozings of the indulgent world; Nor need the windings of his devious course Be here retraced;--enough that, by mishap And venial error, robbed of competence, And her obsequious shadow, peace of mind, 1090 He craved a substitute in troubled joy; Against his conscience rose in arms, and, braving Divine displeasure, broke the marriage-vow. That which he had been weak enough to do Was misery in remembrance; he was stung, Stung by his inward thoughts, and by the smiles Of wife and children stung to agony. Wretched at home, he gained no peace abroad; Ranged through the mountains, slept upon the earth, Asked comfort of the open air, and found 1100 No quiet in the darkness of the night, No pleasure in the beauty of the day. His flock he slighted: his paternal fields Became a clog to him, whose spirit wished To fly--but whither! And this gracious Church, That wears a look so full of peace and hope And love, benignant mother of the vale, How fair amid her brood of cottages! She was to him a sickness and reproach. Much to the last remained unknown: but this 1110 Is sure, that through remorse and grief he died; Though pitied among men, absolved by God, He could not find forgiveness in himself; Nor could endure the weight of his own shame. Here rests a Mother. But from her I turn And from her grave.--Behold--upon that ridge, That, stretching boldly from the mountain side, Carries into the centre of the vale Its rocks and woods--the Cottage where she dwelt And where yet dwells her faithful Partner, left 1120 (Full eight years past) the solitary prop Of many helpless Children. I begin With words that might be prelude to a tale Of sorrow and dejection; but I feel No sadness, when I think of what mine eyes See daily in that happy family. --Bright garland form they for the pensive brow Of their undrooping Father's widowhood, Those six fair Daughters, budding yet--not one, Not one of all the band, a full-blown flower. 1130 Deprest, and desolate of soul, as once That Father was, and filled with anxious fear, Now, by experience taught, he stands assured, That God, who takes away, yet takes not half Of what he seems to take; or gives it back, Not to our prayer, but far beyond our prayer; He gives it--the boon produce of a soil Which our endeavours have refused to till, And hope hath never watered. The Abode, Whose grateful owner can attest these truths, 1140 Even were the object nearer to our sight, Would seem in no distinction to surpass The rudest habitations. Ye might think That it had sprung self-raised from earth, or grown Out of the living rock, to be adorned By nature only; but, if thither led, Ye would discover, then, a studious work Of many fancies, prompting many hands. Brought from the woods the honeysuckle twines Around the porch, and seems, in that trim place, 1150 A plant no longer wild; the cultured rose There blossoms, strong in health, and will be soon Roof-high; the wild pink crowns the garden-wall, And with the flowers are intermingled stones Sparry and bright, rough scatterings of the hills. These ornaments, that fade not with the year, A hardy Girl continues to provide; Who, mounting fearlessly the rocky heights, Her Father's prompt attendant, does for him All that a boy could do, but with delight 1160 More keen and prouder daring; yet hath she, Within the garden, like the rest, a bed For her own flowers and favourite herbs, a space, By sacred charter, holden for her use. --These, and whatever else the garden bears Of fruit or flower, permission asked or not, I freely gather; and my leisure draws A not unfrequent pastime from the hum Of bees around their range of sheltered hives Busy in that enclosure; while the rill, 1170 That sparkling thrids the rocks, attunes his voice To the pure course of human life which there Flows on in solitude. But, when the gloom Of night is falling round my steps, then most This Dwelling charms me; often I stop short, (Who could refrain?) and feed by stealth my sight With prospect of the company within, Laid open through the blazing window:--there I see the eldest Daughter at her wheel Spinning amain, as if to overtake 1180 The never-halting time; or, in her turn, Teaching some Novice of the sisterhood That skill in this or other household work, Which, from her Father's honoured hand, herself, While she was yet a little-one, had learned. Mild Man! he is not gay, but they are gay; And the whole house seems filled with gaiety. --Thrice happy, then, the Mother may be deemed, The Wife, from whose consolatory grave I turned, that ye in mind might witness where, 1190 And how, her Spirit yet survives on earth!"