WHILE thus from theme to theme the Historian passed, The words he uttered, and the scene that lay Before our eyes, awakened in my mind Vivid remembrance of those long-past hours; When, in the hollow of some shadowy vale, (What time the splendour of the setting sun Lay beautiful on Snowdon's sovereign brow, On Cader Idris, or huge Penmanmaur) A wandering Youth, I listened with delight To pastoral melody or warlike air, 10 Drawn from the chords of the ancient British harp By some accomplished Master, while he sate Amid the quiet of the green recess, And there did inexhaustibly dispense An interchange of soft or solemn tunes, Tender or blithe; now, as the varying mood Of his own spirit urged,--now, as a voice From youth or maiden, or some honoured chief Of his compatriot villagers (that hung Around him, drinking in the impassioned notes 20 Of the time-hallowed minstrelsy) required For their heart's ease or pleasure. Strains of power Were they, to seize and occupy the sense; But to a higher mark than song can reach Rose this pure eloquence. And, when the stream Which overflowed the soul was passed away, A consciousness remained that it had left, Deposited upon the silent shore Of memory, images and precious thoughts, That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed. 30 "These grassy heaps lie amicably close," Said I, "like surges heaving in the wind Along the surface of a mountain pool: Whence comes it, then, that yonder we behold Five graves, and only five, that rise together Unsociably sequestered, and encroaching On the smooth playground of the village-school?" The Vicar answered,--"No disdainful pride In them who rest beneath, nor any course Of strange or tragic accident, hath helped 40 To place those hillocks in that lonely guise. --Once more look forth, and follow with your sight The length of road that from yon mountain's base Through bare enclosures stretches, 'till its line Is lost within a little tuft of trees; Then, reappearing in a moment, quits The cultured fields; and up the heathy waste, Mounts, as you see, in mazes serpentine, Led towards an easy outlet of the vale. That little shady spot, that sylvan tuft, 50 By which the road is hidden, also hides A cottage from our view; though I discern (Ye scarcely can) amid its sheltering trees The smokeless chimney-top.-- All unembowered And naked stood that lowly Parsonage (For such in truth it is, and appertains To a small Chapel in the vale beyond) When hither came its last Inhabitant. Rough and forbidding were the choicest roads By which our northern wilds could then be crossed; 60 And into most of these secluded vales Was no access for wain, heavy or light. So, at his dwelling-place the Priest arrived With store of household goods, in panniers slung On sturdy horses graced with jingling bells, And on the back of more ignoble beast; That, with like burthen of effects most prized Or easiest carried, closed the motley train. Young was I then, a schoolboy of eight years; But still, methinks, I see them as they passed 70 In order, drawing toward their wished-for home. --Rocked by the motion of a trusty ass Two ruddy children hung, a well-poised freight, Each in his basket nodding drowsily; Their bonnets, I remember, wreathed with flowers, Which told it was the pleasant month of June; And, close behind, the comely Matron rode, A woman of soft speech and gracious smile, And with a lady's mien.--From far they came, Even from Northumbrian hills; yet theirs had been 80 A merry journey, rich in pastime, cheered By music, prank, and laughter-stirring jest; And freak put on, and arch word dropped--to swell The cloud of fancy and uncouth surmise That gathered round the slowly-moving train. --'Whence do they come? and with what errand charged? 'Belong they to the fortune-telling tribe 'Who pitch their tents under the greenwood tree? 'Or Strollers are they, furnished to enact 'Fair Rosamond, and the Children of the Wood, 90 'And, by that whiskered tabby's aid, set forth 'The lucky venture of sage Whittington, 'When the next village hears the show announced 'By blast of trumpet?' Plenteous was the growth Of such conjectures, overheard, or seen On many a staring countenance portrayed Of boor or burgher, as they marched along. And more than once their steadiness of face Was put to proof, and exercise supplied To their inventive humour, by stern looks, 100 And questions in authoritative tone, From some staid guardian of the public peace, Checking the sober steed on which he rode, In his suspicious wisdom; oftener still, By notice indirect, or blunt demand From traveller halting in his own despite, A simple curiosity to ease: Of which adventures, that beguiled and cheered Their grave migration, the good pair would tell, With undiminished glee, in hoary age. 110 A Priest he was by function; but his course From his youth up, and high as manhood's noon, (The hour of life to which he then was brought) Had been irregular, I might say, wild; By books unsteadied, by his pastoral care Too little checked. An active, ardent mind; A fancy pregnant with resource and scheme To cheat the sadness of a rainy day; Hands apt for all ingenious arts and games; A generous spirit, and a body strong 120 To cope with stoutest champions of the bowl-- Had earned for him sure welcome, and the rights Of a prized visitant, in the jolly hall Of country 'squire; or at the statelier board Of duke or earl, from scenes of courtly pomp Withdrawn,--to while away the summer hours In condescension among rural guests. With these high comrades he had revelled long, Frolicked industriously, a simple Clerk By hopes of coming patronage beguiled 130 Till the heart sickened. So, each loftier aim Abandoning and all his showy friends, For a life's stay (slender it was, but sure) He turned to this secluded chapelry; That had been offered to his doubtful choice By an unthought-of patron. Bleak and bare They found the cottage, their allotted home; Naked without, and rude within; a spot With which the Cure not long had been endowed: And far remote the chapel stood,--remote, 140 And, from his Dwelling, unapproachable, Save through a gap high in the hills, an opening Shadeless and shelterless, by driving showers Frequented, and beset with howling winds. Yet cause was none, whate'er regret might hang On his own mind, to quarrel with the choice Or the necessity that fixed him here; Apart from old temptations, and constrained To punctual labour in his sacred charge. See him a constant preacher to the poor! 150 And visiting, though not with saintly zeal, Yet, when need was, with no reluctant will, The sick in body, or distrest in mind; And, by a salutary change, compelled To rise from timely sleep, and meet the day With no engagement, in his thoughts, more proud Or splendid than his garden could afford, His fields, or mountains by the heath-cock ranged Or the wild brooks; from which he now returned Contented to partake the quiet meal 160 Of his own board, where sat his gentle Mate And three fair Children, plentifully fed Though simply, from their little household farm; Nor wanted timely treat of fish or fowl By nature yielded to his practised hand;-- To help the small but certain comings-in Of that spare benefice. Yet not the less Theirs was a hospitable board, and theirs A charitable door. So days and years Passed on;--the inside of that rugged house 170 Was trimmed and brightened by the Matron's care, And gradually enriched with things of price, Which might be lacked for use or ornament. What, though no soft and costly sofa there Insidiously stretched out its lazy length, And no vain mirror glittered upon the walls, Yet were the windows of the low abode By shutters weather-fended, which at once Repelled the storm and deadened its loud roar. There snow-white curtains hung in decent folds; 180 Tough moss, and long-enduring mountain plants, That creep along the ground with sinuous trail, Were nicely braided; and composed a work Like Indian mats, that with appropriate grace Lay at the threshold and the inner doors; And a fair carpet, woven of homespun wool But tinctured daintily with florid hues, For seemliness and warmth, on festal days, Covered the smooth blue slabs of mountain-stone With which the parlour-floor, in simplest guise 190 Of pastoral homesteads, had been long inlaid. Those pleasing works the Housewife's skill produced: Meanwhile the unsedentary Master's hand Was busier with his task--to rid, to plant, To rear for food, for shelter, and delight; A thriving covert! And when wishes, formed In youth, and sanctioned by the riper mind, Restored me to my native valley, here To end my days; well pleased was I to see The once-bare cottage, on the mountainside, 200 Screened from assault of every bitter blast; While the dark shadows of the summer leaves Danced in the breeze, chequering its mossy roof. Time, which had thus afforded willing help To beautify with nature's fairest growths This rustic tenement, had gently shed, Upon its Master's frame, a wintry grace; The comeliness of unenfeebled age. But how could I say, gently? for he still Retained a flashing eye, a burning palm, 210 A stirring foot, a head which beat at nights Upon its pillow with a thousand schemes. Few likings had he dropped, few pleasures lost; Generous and charitable, prompt to serve; And still his harsher passions kept their hold-- Anger and indignation. Still he loved The sound of titled names, and talked in glee Of long-past banquetings with high-born friends: Then, from those lulling fits of vain delight Uproused by recollected injury, railed 220 At their false ways disdainfully,--and oft In bitterness, and with a threatening eye Of fire, incensed beneath its hoary brow. --Those transports, with staid looks of pure good-will, And with soft smile, his consort would reprove. She, far behind him in the race of years, Yet keeping her first mildness, was advanced Far nearer, in the habit of her soul, To that still region whither all are bound, Him might we liken to the setting sun 230 As seen not seldom on some gusty day, Struggling and bold, and shining from the west With an inconstant and unmellowed light; She was a soft attendant cloud, that hung As if with wish to veil the restless orb; From which it did itself imbibe a ray Of pleasing lustre.--But no more of this; I better love to sprinkle on the sod That now divides the pair, or rather say, That still unites them, praises, like heaven's dew, 240 Without reserve descending upon both. Our very first in eminence of years This old Man stood, the patriarch of the Vale! And, to his unmolested mansion, death Had never come, through space of forty years; Sparing both old and young in that abode. Suddenly then they disappeared: not twice Had summer scorched the fields; not twice had fallen, On those high peaks, the first autumnal snow, Before the greedy visiting was closed, 250 And the long-privileged house left empty--swept As by a plague. Yet no rapacious plague Had been among them; all was gentle death, One after one, with intervals of peace. A happy consummation! an accord Sweet, perfect, to be wished for! save that here Was something which to mortal sense might sound Like harshness,--that the old grey-headed Sire, The oldest, he was taken last; survived When the meek Partner of his age, his Son, 260 His Daughter, and that late and high-prized gift, His little smiling Grandchild, were no more. 'All gone all vanished! he deprived and bare, 'How will he face the remnant of his life? 'What will become of him?' we said, and mused In sad conjectures--'Shall we meet him now 'Haunting with rod and line the craggy brooks? 'Or shall we overhear him, as we pass, 'Striving to entertain the lonely hours 'With music?' (for he had not ceased to touch 270 The harp or viol which himself had framed, For their sweet purposes, with perfect skill.) 'What titles will he keep? will he remain 'Musician, gardener, builder, mechanist, 'A planter, and a rearer from the seed? 'A man of hope and forward-looking mind 'Even to the last!'--Such was he, unsubdued. But Heaven was gracious; yet a little while, And this Survivor, with his cheerful throng Of open projects, and his inward hoard 280 Of unsunned griefs, too many and too keen, Was overcome by unexpected sleep, In one blest moment. Like a shadow thrown Softly and lightly from a passing cloud, Death fell upon him, while reclined he lay For noontide solace on the summer grass, The warm lap of his mother earth: and so, Their lenient term of separation past, That family (whose graves you there behold) By yet a higher privilege once more 290 Were gathered to each other." Calm of mind And silence waited on these closing words; Until the Wanderer (whether moved by fear Lest in those passages of life were some That might have touched the sick heart of his Friend Too nearly, or intent to reinforce His own firm spirit in degree deprest By tender sorrow for our mortal state) Thus silence broke:--"Behold a thoughtless Man From vice and premature decay preserved 300 By useful habits, to a fitter soil Transplanted ere too late.--The hermit, lodged Amid the untrodden desert, tells his beads, With each repeating its allotted prayer, And thus divides and thus relieves the time; Smooth task, with 'his' compared, whose mind could string, Not scantily, bright minutes on the thread Of keen domestic anguish; and beguile A solitude, unchosen, unprofessed; Till gentlest death released him. Far from us 310 Be the desire--too curiously to ask How much of this is but the blind result Of cordial spirits and vital temperament, And what to higher powers is justly due. But you, Sir, know that in a neighbouring vale A Priest abides before whose life such doubts Fall to the ground; whose gifts of nature lie Retired from notice, lost in attributes Of reason, honourably effaced by debts Which her poor treasure-house is content to owe, 320 And conquest over her dominion gained, To which her frowardness must needs submit. In this one Man is shown a temperance--proof Against all trials; industry severe And constant as the motion of the day; Stern self-denial round him spread, with shade That might be deemed forbidding, did not there All generous feelings flourish and rejoice; Forbearance, charity in deed and thought, And resolution competent to take 330 Out of the bosom of simplicity All that her holy customs recommend, And the best ages of the world prescribe. --Preaching, administering, in every work Of his sublime vocation, in the walks Of worldly intercourse between man and man, And in his humble dwelling, he appears A labourer, with moral virtue girt, With spiritual graces, like a glory, crowned." "Doubt can be none," the Pastor said, "for whom 340 This portraiture is sketched. The great, the good, The well-beloved, the fortunate, the wise,-- These titles emperors and chiefs have borne, Honour assumed or given: and him, the WONDERFUL, Our simple shepherds, speaking from the heart, Deservedly have styled.--From his abode In a dependent chapelry that lies Behind yon hill, a poor and rugged wild, Which in his soul he lovingly embraced, And, having once espoused, would never quit; 350 Into its graveyard will ere long be borne That lowly, great, good Man. A simple stone May cover him; and by its help, perchance, A century shall hear his name pronounced, With images attendant on the sound; Then, shall the slowly-gathering twilight close In utter night; and of his course remain No cognizable vestiges, no more Than of this breath, which shapes itself in words To speak of him, and instantly dissolves." 360 The Pastor, pressed by thoughts which round his theme Still lingered, after a brief pause, resumed; "Noise is there not enough in doleful war, But that the heaven-born poet must stand forth, And lend the echoes of his sacred shell, To multiply and aggravate the din? Pangs are there not enough in hopeless love-- And, in requited passion, all too much Of turbulence, anxiety, and fear-- But that the minstrel of the rural shade 370 Must tune his pipe, insidiously to nurse The perturbation in the suffering breast, And propagate its kind, far as he may? --Ah who (and with such rapture as befits The hallowed theme) will rise and celebrate The good man's purposes and deeds; retrace His struggles, his discomfitures deplore, His triumphs hail, and glorify his end; That virtue, like the fumes and vapoury clouds Through fancy's heat redounding in the brain, 380 And like the soft infections of the heart, By charm of measured words may spread o'er field, Hamlet, and town; and piety survive Upon the lips of men in hall or bower; Not for reproof, but high and warm delight, And grave encouragement, by song inspired? --Vain thought! but wherefore murmur or repine? The memory of the just survives in heaven: And, without sorrow, will the ground receive That venerable clay. Meanwhile the best 390 Of what lies here confines us to degrees In excellence less difficult to reach, And milder worth: nor need we travel far From those to whom our last regards were paid, For such example. Almost at the root Of that tall pine, the shadow of whose bare And slender stem, while here I sit at eve, Oft stretches towards me, like a long straight path Traced faintly in the greensward; there, beneath A plain blue stone, a gentle Dalesman lies, 400 From whom, in early childhood, was withdrawn The precious gift of hearing. He grew up From year to year in loneliness of soul; And this deep mountain-valley was to him Soundless, with all its streams. The bird of dawn Did never rouse this Cottager from sleep With startling summons; not for his delight The vernal cuckoo shouted; not for him Murmured the labouring bee. When stormy winds Were working the broad bosom of the lake 410 Into a thousand thousand sparkling waves, Rocking the trees, or driving cloud on cloud Along the sharp edge of yon lofty crags, The agitated scene before his eye Was silent as a picture: evermore Were all things silent, wheresoe'er he moved. Yet, by the solace of his own pure thoughts Upheld, he duteously pursued the round Of rural labours; the steep mountain-side Ascended, with his staff and faithful dog; 420 The plough he guided, and the scythe he swayed; And the ripe corn before his sickle fell Among the jocund reapers. For himself, All watchful and industrious as he was, He wrought not: neither field nor flock he owned: No wish for wealth had place within his mind; Nor husband's love, nor father's hope or care. Though born a younger brother, need was none That from the floor of his paternal home He should depart, to plant himself anew. 430 And when, mature in manhood, he beheld His parents laid in earth, no loss ensued Of rights to him; but he remained well pleased, By the pure bond of independent love, An inmate of a second family; The fellow-labourer and friend of him To whom the small inheritance had fallen. --Nor deem that his mild presence was a weight That pressed upon his brother's house; for books Were ready comrades whom he could not tire; 440 Of whose society the blameless Man Was never satiate. Their familiar voice, Even to old age, with unabated charm Beguiled his leisure hours; refreshed his thoughts; Beyond its natural elevation raised His introverted spirit; and bestowed Upon his life an outward dignity Which all acknowledged. The dark winter night, The stormy day, each had its own resource; Song of the muses, sage historic tale, 450 Science severe, or word of holy Writ Announcing immortality and joy To the assembled spirits of just men Made perfect, and from injury secure. --Thus soothed at home, thus busy in the field, To no perverse suspicion he gave way, No languor, peevishness, nor vain complaint: And they, who were about him, did not fail In reverence, or in courtesy; they prized His gentle manners: and his peaceful smiles, 460 The gleams of his slow-varying countenance, Were met with answering sympathy and love. At length, when sixty years and five were told, A slow disease insensibly consumed The powers of nature: and a few short steps Of friends and kindred bore him from his home (Yon cottage shaded by the woody crags) To the profounder stillness of the grave. --Nor was his funeral denied the grace Of many tears, virtuous and thoughtful grief; 470 Heart-sorrow rendered sweet by gratitude. And now that monumental stone preserves His name, and unambitiously relates How long, and by what kindly outward aids, And in what pure contentedness of mind, The sad privation was by him endured. --And yon tall pine-tree, whose composing sound Was wasted on the good Man's living ear, Hath now its own peculiar sanctity; And, at the touch of every wandering breeze, 480 Murmurs, not idly, o'er his peaceful grave. Soul-cheering Light, most bountiful of things! Guide of our way, mysterious comforter! Whose sacred influence, spread through earth and heaven, We all too thanklessly participate, Thy gifts were utterly withheld from him Whose place of rest is near yon ivied porch. Yet, of the wild brooks ask if he complained; Ask of the channelled rivers if they held A safer, easier, more determined, course. 490 What terror doth it strike into the mind To think of one, blind and alone, advancing Straight toward some precipice's airy brink! But, timely warned, 'He' would have stayed his steps, Protected, say enlightened, by his ear; And on the very edge of vacancy Not more endangered than a man whose eye Beholds the gulf beneath.--No floweret blooms Throughout the lofty range of these rough hills, Nor in the woods, that could from him conceal 500 Its birth-place; none whose figure did not live Upon his touch. The bowels of the earth Enriched with knowledge his industrious mind; The ocean paid him tribute from the stores Lodged in her bosom; and, by science led, His genius mounted to the plains of heaven. --Methinks I see him--how his eye-balls rolled, Beneath his ample brow, in darkness paired,-- But each instinct with spirit; and the frame Of the whole countenance alive with thought, 510 Fancy, and understanding; while the voice Discoursed of natural or moral truth With eloquence, and such authentic power, That, in his presence, humbler knowledge stood Abashed, and tender pity overawed." "A noble--and, to unreflecting minds, A marvellous spectacle," the Wanderer said, "Beings like these present! But proof abounds Upon the earth that faculties, which seem Extinguished, do not, 'therefore', cease to be. 520 And to the mind among her powers of sense This transfer is permitted,--not alone That the bereft their recompense may win; But for remoter purposes of love And charity; nor last nor least for this, That to the imagination may be given A type and shadow of an awful truth; How, likewise, under sufferance divine, Darkness is banished from the realms of death, By man's imperishable spirit, quelled. 530 Unto the men who see not as we see Futurity was thought, in ancient times, To be laid open, and they prophesied. And know we not that from the blind have flowed The highest, holiest, raptures of the lyre; And wisdom married to immortal verse?" Among the humbler Worthies, at our feet Lying insensible to human praise, Love, or regret,--'whose' lineaments would next Have been portrayed, I guess not; but it chanced 540 That, near the quiet churchyard where we sate, A team of horses, with a ponderous freight Pressing behind, adown a rugged slope, Whose sharp descent confounded their array, Came at that moment, ringing noisily. "Here," said the Pastor, "do we muse, and mourn The waste of death; and lo! the giant oak Stretched on his bier--that massy timber wain; Nor fail to note the Man who guides the team." He was a peasant of the lowest class: 550 Grey locks profusely round his temples hung In clustering curls, like ivy, which the bite Of winter cannot thin; the fresh air lodged Within his cheek, as light within a cloud; And he returned our greeting with a smile. When he had passed, the Solitary spake; "A Man he seems of cheerful yesterdays And confident to-morrows; with a face Not worldly-minded, for it bears too much Of Nature's impress,--gaiety and health, 560 Freedom and hope; but keen, withal, and shrewd. His gestures note,--and hark! his tones of voice Are all vivacious as his mien and looks." The Pastor answered: "You have read him well. Year after year is added to his store With 'silent' increase: summers, winters--past, Past or to come; yea, boldly might I say, Ten summers and ten winters of a space That lies beyond life's ordinary bounds, Upon his sprightly vigour cannot fix 570 The obligation of an anxious mind, A pride in having, or a fear to lose; Possessed like outskirts of some large domain, By any one more thought of than by him Who holds the land in fee, its careless lord! Yet is the creature rational, endowed With foresight; hears, too, every sabbath day, The christian promise with attentive ear; Nor will, I trust, the Majesty of Heaven Reject the incense offered up by him, 580 Though of the kind which beasts and birds present In grove or pasture; cheerfulness of soul, From trepidation and repining free. How many scrupulous worshippers fall down Upon their knees, and daily homage pay Less worthy, less religious even, than his! This qualified respect, the old Man's due, Is paid without reluctance; but in truth," (Said the good Vicar with a fond half-smile) "I feel at times a motion of despite 590 Towards one, whose bold contrivances and skill, As you have seen, bear such conspicuous part In works of havoc; taking from these vales, One after one, their proudest ornaments. Full oft his doings leave me to deplore Tall ash-tree, sown by winds, by vapours nursed, In the dry crannies of the pendent rocks; Light birch, aloft upon the horizon's edge, A veil of glory for the ascending moon; And oak whose roots by noontide dew were damped, 600 And on whose forehead inaccessible The raven lodged in safety.--Many a ship Launched into Morecamb-bay to 'him' hath owed Her strong knee-timbers, and the mast that bears The loftiest of her pendants; He, from park Or forest, fetched the enormous axle-tree That whirls (how slow itself!) ten thousand spindles: And the vast engine labouring in the mine, Content with meaner prowess, must have lacked The trunk and body of its marvellous strength, 610 If his undaunted enterprise had failed Among the mountain coves. Yon household fir, A guardian planted to fence off the blast, But towering high the roof above, as if Its humble destination were forgot-- That sycamore, which annually holds Within its shade, as in a stately tent On all sides open to the fanning breeze, A grave assemblage, seated while they shear The fleece-encumbered flock--the JOYFUL ELM, 620 Around whose trunk the maidens dance in May-- And the LORD'S OAK--would plead their several rights In vain, if he were master of their fate; His sentence to the axe would doom them all. But, green in age and lusty as he is, And promising to keep his hold on earth Less, as might seem, in rivalship with men Than with the forest's more enduring growth, His own appointed hour will come at last; And, like the haughty Spoilers of the world, 630 This keen Destroyer, in his turn, must fall. Now from the living pass we once again: From Age," the Priest continued, "turn your thoughts; From Age, that often unlamented drops, And mark that daisied hillock, three spans long! --Seven lusty Sons sate daily round the board Of Gold-rill side; and, when the hope had ceased Of other progeny, a Daughter then Was given, the crowning bounty of the whole; And so acknowledged with a tremulous joy 640 Felt to the centre of that heavenly calm With which by nature every mother's soul Is stricken in the moment when her throes Are ended, and her ears have heard the cry Which tells her that a living child is born; And she lies conscious, in a blissful rest, That the dread storm is weathered by them both. The Father--him at this unlooked-for gift A bolder transport seizes. From the side Of his bright hearth, and from his open door, 650 Day after day the gladness is diffused To all that come, almost to all that pass; Invited, summoned, to partake the cheer Spread on the never-empty board, and drink Health and good wishes to his new-born girl, From cups replenished by his joyous hand. --Those seven fair brothers variously were moved Each by the thoughts best suited to his years: But most of all and with most thankful mind The hoary grandsire felt himself enriched; 660 A happiness that ebbed not, but remained To fill the total measure of his soul! --From the low tenement, his own abode, Whither, as to a little private cell, He had withdrawn from bustle, care, and noise, To spend the sabbath of old age in peace, Once every day he duteously repaired To rock the cradle of the slumbering babe: For in that female infant's name he heard The silent name of his departed wife; 670 Heart-stirring music! hourly heard that name; Full blest he was, 'Another Margaret Green,' Oft did he say, 'was come to Gold-rill side.' Oh! pang unthought of, as the precious boon Itself had been unlooked-for; oh! dire stroke Of desolating anguish for them all! --Just as the Child could totter on the floor, And, by some friendly finger's help up-stayed, Range round the garden walk, while she perchance Was catching at some novelty of spring, 680 Ground-flower, or glossy insect from its cell Drawn by the sunshine--at that hopeful season The winds of March, smiting insidiously, Raised in the tender passage of the throat Viewless obstruction; whence, all unforewarned, The household lost their pride and soul's delight. --But time hath power to soften all regrets, And prayer and thought can bring to worst distress Due resignation. Therefore, though some tears Fail not to spring from either Parent's eye 690 Oft as they hear of sorrow like their own, Yet this departed Little-one, too long The innocent troubler of their quiet, sleeps In what may now be called a peaceful bed. On a bright day--so calm and bright, it seemed To us, with our sad spirits, heavenly-fair-- These mountains echoed to an unknown sound; A volley, thrice repeated o'er the Corse Let down into the hollow of that grave, Whose shelving sides are red with naked mould. 700 Ye rains of April, duly wet this earth! Spare, burning sun of midsummer, these sods, That they may knit together, and therewith Our thoughts unite in kindred quietness! Nor so the Valley shall forget her loss. Dear Youth, by young and old alike beloved, To me as precious as my own!--Green herbs May creep (I wish that they would softly creep) Over thy last abode, and we may pass Reminded less imperiously of thee;-- 710 The ridge itself may sink into the breast Of earth, the great abyss, and be no more; Yet shall not thy remembrance leave our hearts, Thy image disappear! The Mountain-ash No eye can overlook, when 'mid a grove Of yet unfaded trees she lifts her head Decked with autumnal berries, that outshine Spring's richest blossoms; and ye may have marked, By a brook-side or solitary tarn, How she her station doth adorn: the pool 720 Glows at her feet, and all the gloomy rocks Are brightened round her. In his native vale Such and so glorious did this Youth appear; A sight that kindled pleasure in all hearts By his ingenuous beauty, by the gleam Of his fair eyes, by his capacious brow, By all the graces with which nature's hand Had lavishly arrayed him. As old bards Tell in their idle songs of wandering gods, Pan or Apollo, veiled in human form: 730 Yet, like the sweet-breathed violet of the shade Discovered in their own despite to sense Of mortals (if such fables without blame May find chance-mention on this sacred ground) So, through a simple rustic garb's disguise, And through the impediment of rural cares, In him revealed a scholar's genius shone; And so, not wholly hidden from men's sight, In him the spirit of a hero walked Our unpretending valley.--How the quoit 740 Whizzed from the Stripling's arm! If touched by him, The inglorious foot-ball mounted to the pitch Of the lark's flight,--or shaped a rainbow curve, Aloft, in prospect of the shouting field! The indefatigable fox had learned To dread his perseverance in the chase. With admiration would he lift his eyes To the wide-ruling eagle, and his hand Was loth to assault the majesty he loved: Else had the strongest fastnesses proved weak 750 To guard the royal brood. The sailing glead, The wheeling swallow, and the darting snipe; The sportive sea-gull dancing with the waves, And cautious water-fowl, from distant climes, Fixed at their seat, the centre of the Mere; Were subject to young Oswald's steady aim, And lived by his forbearance. From the coast Of France a boastful Tyrant hurled his threats; Our Country marked the preparation vast Of hostile forces; and she called--with voice 760 That filled her plains, that reached her utmost shores, And in remotest vales was heard--to arms! --Then, for the first time, here you might have seen The shepherd's grey to martial scarlet changed, That flashed uncouthly through the woods and fields. Ten hardy Striplings, all in bright attire, And graced with shining weapons, weekly marched, From this lone valley, to a central spot Where, in assemblage with the flower and choice Of the surrounding district, they might learn 770 The rudiments of war; ten--hardy, strong, And valiant; but young Oswald, like a chief And yet a modest comrade, led them forth From their shy solitude, to face the world, With a gay confidence and seemly pride; Measuring the soil beneath their happy feet Like Youths released from labour, and yet bound To most laborious service, though to them A festival of unencumbered ease; The inner spirit keeping holiday, 780 Like vernal ground to sabbath sunshine left. Oft have I marked him, at some leisure hour, Stretched on the grass, or seated in the shade, Among his fellows, while an ample map Before their eyes lay carefully outspread, From which the gallant teacher would discourse, Now pointing this way, and now that.--'Here flows,' Thus would he say, 'the Rhine, that famous stream! 'Eastward, the Danube toward this inland sea, 'A mightier river, winds from realm to realm; 790 'And, like a serpent, shows his glittering back 'Bespotted--with innumerable isles: 'Here reigns the Russian, there the Turk; observe 'His capital city!' Thence, along a tract Of livelier interest to his hopes and fears, His finger moved, distinguishing the spots Where wide-spread conflict then most fiercely raged; Nor left unstigmatized those fatal fields On which the sons of mighty Germany Were taught a base submission.--'Here behold 800 'A nobler race, the Switzers, and their land, 'Vales deeper far than these of ours, huge woods, 'And mountains white with everlasting snow!' --And, surely, he, that spake with kindling brow, Was a true patriot, hopeful as the best Of that young peasantry, who, in our days, Have fought and perished for Helvetia's rights-- Ah, not in vain!--or those who, in old time, For work of happier issue, to the side Of Tell came trooping from a thousand huts, 810 When he had risen alone! No braver Youth Descended from Judean heights, to march With righteous Joshua; nor appeared in arms When grove was felled, and altar was cast down, And Gideon blew the trumpet, soul-inflamed, And strong in hatred of idolatry." The Pastor, even as if by these last words Raised from his seat within the chosen shade, Moved toward the grave;--instinctively his steps We followed; and my voice with joy exclaimed: 820 "Power to the Oppressors of the world is given, A might of which they dream not. Oh! the curse, To be the awakener of divinest thoughts, Father and founder of exalted deeds; And, to whole nations bound in servile straits, The liberal donor of capacities More than heroic! this to be, nor yet Have sense of one connatural wish, nor yet Deserve the least return of human thanks; Winning no recompense but deadly hate 830 With pity mixed, astonishment with scorn!" When this involuntary strain had ceased, The Pastor said: "So Providence is served; The forked weapon of the skies can send Illumination into deep, dark holds, Which the mild sunbeam hath not power to pierce. Ye Thrones that have defied remorse, and cast Pity away, soon shall ye quake with 'fear'! For, not unconscious of the mighty debt Which to outrageous wrong the sufferer owes, 840 Europe, through all her habitable bounds, Is thirsting for 'their' overthrow, who yet Survive, as pagan temples stood of yore, By horror of their impious rites, preserved; Are still permitted to extend their pride, Like cedars on the top of Lebanon Darkening the sun. But less impatient thoughts, And love 'all hoping and expecting all,' This hallowed grave demands, where rests in peace A humble champion of the better cause, 850 A Peasant-youth, so call him, for he asked No higher name; in whom our country showed, As in a favourite son, most beautiful. In spite of vice, and misery, and disease, Spread with the spreading of her wealthy arts, England, the ancient and the free, appeared In him to stand before my swimming eyes, Unconquerably virtuous and secure. --No more of this, lest I offend his dust: Short was his life, and a brief tale remains. 860 One day--a summer's day of annual pomp And solemn chase--from morn to sultry noon His steps had followed, fleetest of the fleet, The red-deer driven along its native heights With cry of hound and horn; and, from that toil Returned with sinews weakened and relaxed, This generous Youth, too negligent of self, Plunged--'mid a gay and busy throng convened To wash the fleeces of his Father's flock-- Into the chilling flood. Convulsions dire 870 Seized him, that self-same night; and through the space Of twelve ensuing days his frame was wrenched, Till nature rested from her work in death. To him, thus snatched away, his comrades paid A soldier's honours. At his funeral hour Bright was the sun, the sky a cloudless blue-- A golden lustre slept upon the hills; And if by chance a stranger, wandering there, From some commanding eminence had looked Down on this spot, well pleased would he have seen 880 A glittering spectacle; but every face Was pallid: seldom hath that eye been moist With tears, that wept not then; nor were the few, Who from their dwellings came not forth to join In this sad service, less disturbed than we. They started at the tributary peal Of instantaneous thunder, which announced, Through the still air, the closing of the Grave; And distant mountains echoed with a sound Of lamentation, never heard before!" 890 The Pastor ceased.--My venerable Friend Victoriously upraised his clear bright eye; And, when that eulogy was ended, stood Enrapt, as if his inward sense perceived The prolongation of some still response, Sent by the ancient Soul of this wide land, The Spirit of its mountains and its seas, Its cities, temples, fields, its awful power, Its rights and virtues--by that Deity Descending, and supporting his pure heart 900 With patriotic confidence and joy. And, at the last of those memorial words, The pining Solitary turned aside; Whether through manly instinct to conceal Tender emotions spreading from the heart To his worn cheek; or with uneasy shame For those cold humours of habitual spleen That, fondly seeking in dispraise of man Solace and self-excuse, had sometimes urged To self-abuse a not ineloquent tongue. 910 --Right toward the sacred Edifice his steps Had been directed; and we saw him now Intent upon a monumental stone, Whose uncouth form was grafted on the wall, Or rather seemed to have grown into the side Of the rude pile; as oft-times trunks of trees, Where nature works in wild and craggy spots, Are seen incorporate with the living rock-- To endure for aye. The Vicar, taking note Of his employment, with a courteous smile 920 Exclaimed-- "The sagest Antiquarian's eye That task would foil;" then, letting fall his voice While he advanced, thus spake: "Tradition tells That, in Eliza's golden days, a Knight Came on a war-horse sumptuously attired, And fixed his home in this sequestered vale. 'Tis left untold if here he first drew breath, Or as a stranger reached this deep recess, Unknowing and unknown. A pleasing thought I sometimes entertain, that haply bound 930 To Scotland's court in service of his Queen, Or sent on mission to some northern Chief Of England's realm, this vale he might have seen With transient observation; and thence caught An image fair, which, brightening in his soul When joy of war and pride of chivalry Languished beneath accumulated years, Had power to draw him from the world, resolved To make that paradise his chosen home To which his peaceful fancy oft had turned. 940 Vague thoughts are these; but, if belief may rest Upon unwritten story fondly traced From sire to son, in this obscure retreat The Knight arrived, with spear and shield, and borne Upon a Charger gorgeously bedecked With broidered housings. And the lofty Steed-- His sole companion, and his faithful friend, Whom he, in gratitude, let loose to range In fertile pastures--was beheld with eyes Of admiration and delightful awe, 950 By those untravelled Dalesmen. With less pride, Yet free from touch of envious discontent, They saw a mansion at his bidding rise, Like a bright star, amid the lowly band Of their rude homesteads. Here the Warrior dwelt; And, in that mansion children of his own, Or kindred, gathered round him. As a tree That falls and disappears, the house is gone; And, through improvidence or want of love For ancient worth and honourable things, 960 The spear and shield are vanished, which the Knight Hung in his rustic hall. One ivied arch Myself have seen, a gateway, last remains Of that foundation in domestic care Raised by his hands. And now no trace is left Of the mild-hearted Champion, save this stone, Faithless memorial! and his family name Borne by yon clustering cottages, that sprang From out the ruins of his stately lodge: These, and the name and title at full length,-- 970 'Sir Alfred Irthing', with appropriate words Accompanied, still extant, in a wreath Or posy, girding round the several fronts Of three clear-sounding and harmonious bells, That in the steeple hang, his pious gift." "So fails, so languishes, grows dim, and dies," The grey-haired Wanderer pensively exclaimed, "All that this world is proud of. From their spheres The stars of human glory are cast down; Perish the roses and the flowers of kings, 980 Princes, and emperors, and the crowns and palms Of all the mighty, withered and consumed! Nor is power given to lowliest innocence Long to protect her own. The man himself Departs; and soon is spent the line of those Who, in the bodily image, in the mind, In heart or soul, in station or pursuit, Did most resemble him. Degrees and ranks, Fraternities and orders--heaping high New wealth upon the burthen of the old, 990 And placing trust in privilege confirmed And re-confirmed--are scoffed at with a smile Of greedy foretaste, from the secret stand Of Desolation, aimed: to slow decline These yield, and these to sudden overthrow: Their virtue, service, happiness, and state Expire; and nature's pleasant robe of green, Humanity's appointed shroud, enwraps Their monuments and their memory. The vast Frame Of social nature changes evermore 1000 Her organs and her members, with decay Restless, and restless generation, powers And functions dying and produced at need,-- And by this law the mighty whole subsists: With an ascent and progress in the main; Yet, oh! how disproportioned to the hopes And expectations of self-flattering minds! The courteous Knight, whose bones are here interred, Lived in an age conspicuous as our own For strife and ferment in the minds of men; 1010 Whence alteration in the forms of things, Various and vast. A memorable age! Which did to him assign a pensive lot-- To linger 'mid the last of those bright clouds That, on the steady breeze of honour, sailed In long procession calm and beautiful. He who had seen his own bright order fade, And its devotion gradually decline, (While war, relinquishing the lance and shield, Her temper changed, and bowed to other laws) 1020 Had also witnessed, in his morn of life, That violent commotion, which o'erthrew, In town and city and sequestered glen, Altar, and cross, and church of solemn roof, And old religious house--pile after pile; And shook their tenants out into the fields, Like wild beasts without home! Their hour was come; But why no softening thought of gratitude, No just remembrance, scruple, or wise doubt? Benevolence is mild; nor borrows help, 1030 Save at worst need, from bold impetuous force, Fitliest allied to anger and revenge. But Human-kind rejoices in the might Of mutability; and airy hopes, Dancing around her, hinder and disturb Those meditations of the soul that feed The retrospective virtues. Festive songs Break from the maddened nations at the sight Of sudden overthrow; and cold neglect Is the sure consequence of slow decay. 1040 Even," said the Wanderer, "as that courteous Knight, Bound by his vow to labour for redress Of all who suffer wrong, and to enact By sword and lance the law of gentleness, (If I may venture of myself to speak, Trusting that not incongruously I blend Low things with lofty) I too shall be doomed To outlive the kindly use and fair esteem Of the poor calling which my youth embraced With no unworthy prospect. But enough; 1050 --Thoughts crowd upon me--and 'twere seemlier now To stop, and yield our gracious Teacher thanks For the pathetic records which his voice Hath here delivered; words of heartfelt truth, Tending to patience when affliction strikes; To hope and love; to confident repose In God; and reverence for the dust of Man."
"This Sycamore oft musical with Bees;
'Such Tents' the Patriarchs loved."
 The "Transit gloria mundi" is finely expressed in the Introduction to the Foundation-charters of some of the ancient Abbeys. Some expressions here used are taken from that of the Abbey of St. Mary's, Furness, the translation of which is as follows:--
"Considering every day the uncertainty of life, that the roses and flowers
of Kings, Emperors, and Dukes, and the crowns and palms of all the great,
wither and decay; and that all things, with an uninterrupted course, tend
to dissolution and death: I therefore," etc.