Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


THE EXCURSION

BOOK FOURTH

DESPONDENCY CORRECTED

          HERE closed the Tenant of that lonely vale
          His mournful narrative--commenced in pain,
          In pain commenced, and ended without peace:
          Yet tempered, not unfrequently, with strains
          Of native feeling, grateful to our minds;
          And yielding surely some relief to his,
          While we sate listening with compassion due.
          A pause of silence followed; then, with voice
          That did not falter though the heart was moved,
          The Wanderer said:--
                                "One adequate support                 10
          For the calamities of mortal life
          Exists--one only; an assured belief
          That the procession of our fate, howe'er
          Sad or disturbed, is ordered by a Being
          Of infinite benevolence and power;
          Whose everlasting purposes embrace
          All accidents, converting them to good.
          --The darts of anguish 'fix' not where the seat
          Of suffering hath been thoroughly fortified
          By acquiescence in the Will supreme                         20
          For time and for eternity; by faith,
          Faith absolute in God, including hope,
          And the defence that lies in boundless love
          Of his perfections; with habitual dread
          Of aught unworthily conceived, endured
          Impatiently, ill-done, or left undone,
          To the dishonour of his holy name.
          Soul of our Souls, and safeguard of the world!
          Sustain, thou only canst, the sick of heart;
          Restore their languid spirits, and recall                   30
          Their lost affections unto thee and thine!"

            Then, as we issued from that covert nook,
          He thus continued, lifting up his eyes
          To heaven:--"How beautiful this dome of sky;
          And the vast hills, in fluctuation fixed
          At thy command, how awful! Shall the Soul,
          Human and rational, report of thee
          Even less than these?--Be mute who will, who can,
          Yet I will praise thee with impassioned voice:
          My lips, that may forget thee in the crowd,                 40
          Cannot forget thee here; where thou hast built,
          For thy own glory, in the wilderness!
          Me didst thou constitute a priest of thine,
          In such a temple as we now behold
          Reared for thy presence: therefore, am I bound
          To worship, here, and everywhere--as one
          Not doomed to ignorance, though forced to tread,
          From childhood up, the ways of poverty;
          From unreflecting ignorance preserved,
          And from debasement rescued.--By thy grace                  50
          The particle divine remained unquenched;
          And, 'mid the wild weeds of a rugged soil,
          Thy bounty caused to flourish deathless flowers,
          From paradise transplanted: wintry age
          Impends; the frost will gather round my heart;
          If the flowers wither, I am worse than dead!
          --Come, labour, when the worn-out frame requires
          Perpetual sabbath; come, disease and want;
          And sad exclusion through decay of sense;
          But leave me unabated trust in thee--                       60
          And let thy favour, to the end of life,
          Inspire me with ability to seek
          Repose and hope among eternal things--
          Father of heaven and earth! and I am rich,
          And will possess my portion in content!

            And what are things eternal?--powers depart,"
          The grey-haired Wanderer stedfastly replied,
          Answering the question which himself had asked,
          "Possessions vanish, and opinions change,
          And passions hold a fluctuating seat:                       70
          But, by the storms of circumstance unshaken,
          And subject neither to eclipse nor wane,
          Duty exists;--immutably survive,
          For our support, the measures and the forms,
          Which an abstract intelligence supplies;
          Whose kingdom is, where time and space are not.
          Of other converse which mind, soul, and heart,
          Do, with united urgency, require,
          What more that may not perish?--Thou, dread source,
          Prime, self-existing cause and end of all                   80
          That in the scale of being fill their place;
          Above our human region, or below,
          Set and sustained;--thou, who didst wrap the cloud
          Of infancy around us, that thyself,
          Therein, with our simplicity awhile
          Might'st hold, on earth, communion undisturbed;
          Who from the anarchy of dreaming sleep,
          Or from its death-like void, with punctual care,
          And touch as gentle as the morning light,
          Restor'st us, daily, to the powers of sense                 90
          And reason's stedfast rule--thou, thou alone
          Art everlasting, and the blessed Spirits,
          Which thou includest, as the sea her waves:
          For adoration thou endur'st; endure
          For consciousness the motions of thy will;
          For apprehension those transcendent truths
          Of the pure intellect, that stand as laws
          (Submission constituting strength and power)
          Even to thy Being's infinite majesty!
          This universe shall pass away--a work                      100
          Glorious! because the shadow of thy might,
          A step, or link, for intercourse with thee.
          Ah! if the time must come, in which my feet
          No more shall stray where meditation leads,
          By flowing stream, through wood, or craggy wild,
          Loved haunts like these; the unimprisoned Mind
          May yet have scope to range among her own,
          Her thoughts, her images, her high desires.
          If the dear faculty of sight should fail,
          Still, it may be allowed me to remember                    110
          What visionary powers of eye and soul
          In youth were mine; when, stationed on the top
          Of some huge hill--expectant, I beheld
          The sun rise up, from distant climes returned
          Darkness to chase, and sleep; and bring the day
          His bounteous gift! or saw him toward the deep
          Sink, with a retinue of flaming clouds
          Attended; then, my spirit was entranced
          With joy exalted to beatitude;
          The measure of my soul was filled with bliss,              120
          And holiest love; as earth, sea, air, with light,
          With pomp, with glory, with magnificence!

            Those fervent raptures are for ever flown;
          And, since their date, my soul hath undergone
          Change manifold, for better or for worse:
          Yet cease I not to struggle, and aspire
          Heavenward; and chide the part of me that flags,
          Through sinful choice; or dread necessity
          On human nature from above imposed.
          'Tis, by comparison, an easy task                          130
          Earth to despise; but, to converse with heaven--
          This is not easy:--to relinquish all
          We have, or hope, of happiness and joy,
          And stand in freedom loosened from this world,
          I deem not arduous; but must needs confess
          That 'tis a thing impossible to frame
          Conceptions equal to the soul's desires;
          And the most difficult of tasks to 'keep'
          Heights which the soul is competent to gain.
          --Man is of dust: ethereal hopes are his,                  140
          Which, when they should sustain themselves aloft,
          Want due consistence; like a pillar of smoke,
          That with majestic energy from earth
          Rises; but, having reached the thinner air,
          Melts, and dissolves, and is no longer seen.
          From this infirmity of mortal kind
          Sorrow proceeds, which else were not; at least,
          If grief be something hallowed and ordained,
          If, in proportion, it be just and meet,
          Yet, through this weakness of the general heart,           150
          Is it enabled to maintain its hold
          In that excess which conscience disapproves.
          For who could sink and settle to that point
          Of selfishness; so senseless who could be
          As long and perseveringly to mourn
          For any object of his love, removed
          From this unstable world, if he could fix
          A satisfying view upon that state
          Of pure, imperishable, blessedness,
          Which reason promises, and holy writ                       160
          Ensures to all believers?--Yet mistrust
          Is of such incapacity, methinks,
          No natural branch; despondency far less;
          And, least of all, is absolute despair.
          --And, if there be whose tender frames have drooped
          Even to the dust; apparently, through weight
          Of anguish unrelieved, and lack of power
          An agonizing sorrow to transmute;
          Deem not that proof is here of hope withheld
          When wanted most; a confidence impaired                    170
          So pitiably, that, having ceased to see
          With bodily eyes, they are borne down by love
          Of what is lost, and perish through regret.
          Oh! no, the innocent Sufferer often sees
          Too clearly; feels too vividly; and longs
          To realize the vision, with intense
          And over-constant yearning,--there--there lies
          The excess, by which the balance is destroyed.
          Too, too contracted are these walls of flesh,
          This vital warmth too cold, these visual orbs,             180
          Though inconceivably endowed, too dim
          For any passion of the soul that leads
          To ecstasy; and, all the crooked paths
          Of time and change disdaining, takes its course
          Along the line of limitless desires.
          I, speaking now from such disorder free,
          Nor rapt, nor craving, but in settled peace,
          I cannot doubt that they whom you deplore
          Are glorified; or, if they sleep, shall wake
          From sleep, and dwell with God in endless love.            190
          Hope, below this, consists not with belief
          In mercy, carried infinite degrees
          Beyond the tenderness of human hearts:
          Hope, below this, consists not with belief
          In perfect wisdom, guiding mightiest power,
          That finds no limits but her own pure will.

            Here then we rest; not fearing for our creed
          The worst that human reasoning can achieve,
          To unsettle or perplex it: yet with pain
          Acknowledging, and grievous self-reproach,                 200
          That, though immovably convinced, we want
          Zeal, and the virtue to exist by faith
          As soldiers live by courage; as, by strength
          Of heart, the sailor fights with roaring seas.
          Alas! the endowment of immortal power
          Is matched unequally with custom, time,
          And domineering faculties of sense
          In 'all'; in most, with superadded foes,
          Idle temptations; open vanities,
          Ephemeral offspring of the unblushing world;               210
          And, in the private regions of the mind,
          Ill-governed passions, ranklings of despite,
          Immoderate wishes, pining discontent,
          Distress and care. What then remains?--To seek
          Those helps for his occasions ever near
          Who lacks not will to use them; vows, renewed
          On the first motion of a holy thought;
          Vigils of contemplation; praise; and prayer--
          A stream, which, from the fountain of the heart
          Issuing, however feebly, nowhere flows                     220
          Without access of unexpected strength.
          But, above all, the victory is most sure
          For him, who, seeking faith by virtue, strives
          To yield entire submission to the law
          Of conscience--conscience reverenced and obeyed,
          As God's most intimate presence in the soul,
          And his most perfect image in the world.
          --Endeavour thus to live; these rules regard;
          These helps solicit; and a stedfast seat
          Shall then be yours among the happy few                    230
          Who dwell on earth, yet breathe empyreal air
          Sons of the morning. For your nobler part,
          Ere disencumbered of her mortal chains,
          Doubt shall be quelled and trouble chased away;
          With only such degree of sadness left
          As may support longings of pure desire;
          And strengthen love, rejoicing secretly
          In the sublime attractions of the grave."

            While, in this strain, the venerable Sage
          Poured forth his aspirations, and announced                240
          His judgments, near that lonely house we paced
          A plot of greensward, seemingly preserved
          By nature's care from wreck of scattered stones,
          And from encroachment of encircling heath:
          Small space! but, for reiterated steps,
          Smooth and commodious; as a stately deck
          Which to and fro the mariner is used
          To tread for pastime, talking with his mates,
          Or haply thinking of far-distant friends,
          While the ship glides before a steady breeze.              250
          Stillness prevailed around us: and the voice
          That spake was capable to lift the soul
          Toward regions yet more tranquil. But, methought,
          That he, whose fixed despondency had given
          Impulse and motive to that strong discourse,
          Was less upraised in spirit than abashed;
          Shrinking from admonition, like a man
          Who feels that to exhort is to reproach.
          Yet not to be diverted from his aim,
          The Sage continued:--
                                 "For that other loss,               260
          The loss of confidence in social man,
          By the unexpected transports of our age
          Carried so high, that every thought, which looked
          Beyond the temporal destiny of the Kind,
          To many seemed superfluous--as, no cause
          Could e'er for such exalted confidence
          Exist; so, none is now for fixed despair:
          The two extremes are equally disowned
          By reason: if, with sharp recoil, from one
          You have been driven far as its opposite,                  270
          Between them seek the point whereon to build
          Sound expectations. So doth he advise
          Who shared at first the illusion; but was soon
          Cast from the pedestal of pride by shocks
          Which Nature gently gave, in woods and fields;
          Nor unreproved by Providence, thus speaking
          To the inattentive children of the world:
          'Vainglorious Generation! what new powers
          'On you have been conferred? what gifts, withheld
          'From your progenitors, have ye received,                  280
          'Fit recompense of new desert? what claim
          'Are ye prepared to urge, that my decrees
          'For you should undergo a sudden change;
          'And the weak functions of one busy day,
          'Reclaiming and extirpating, perform
          'What all the slowly-moving years of time,
          'With their united force, have left undone?
          'By nature's gradual processes be taught;
          'By story be confounded! Ye aspire
          'Rashly, to fall once more; and that false fruit,          290
          'Which, to your overweening spirits, yields
          'Hope of a flight celestial, will produce
          'Misery and shame. But Wisdom of her sons
          'Shall not the less, though late, be justified.'

            Such timely warning," said the Wanderer, "gave
          That visionary voice; and, at this day,
          When a Tartarean darkness overspreads
          The groaning nations; when the impious rule,
          By will or by established ordinance,
          Their own dire agents, and constrain the good              300
          To acts which they abhor; though I bewail
          This triumph, yet the pity of my heart
          Prevents me not from owning, that the law,
          By which mankind now suffers, is most just.
          For by superior energies; more strict
          Affiance in each other; faith more firm
          In their unhallowed principles; the bad
          Have fairly earned a victory o'er the weak,
          The vacillating, inconsistent good.
          Therefore, not unconsoled, I wait--in hope                 310
          To see the moment, when the righteous cause
          Shall gain defenders zealous and devout
          As they who have opposed her; in which Virtue
          Will, to her efforts, tolerate no bounds
          That are not lofty as her rights; aspiring
          By impulse of her own ethereal zeal.
          That spirit only can redeem mankind;
          And when that sacred spirit shall appear,
          Then shall 'four' triumph be complete as theirs.
          Yet, should this confidence prove vain, the wise           320
          Have still the keeping of their proper peace;
          Are guardians of their own tranquillity.
          They act, or they recede, observe, and feel;
          'Knowing the heart of man is set to be
          The centre of this world, about the which
          Those revolutions of disturbances
          Still roll; where all the aspects of misery
          Predominate; whose strong effects are such
          As he must bear, being powerless to redress;
          "And that unless above himself he can                      330
          Erect himself, how poor a thing is Man!"'

            Happy is he who lives to understand,
          Not human nature only, but explores
          All natures,--to the end that he may find
          The law that governs each; and where begins
          The union, the partition where, that makes
          Kind and degree, among all visible Beings;
          The constitutions, powers, and faculties,
          Which they inherit,--cannot step beyond,--
          And cannot fall beneath; that do assign                    340
          To every class its station and its office,
          Through all the mighty commonwealth of things
          Up from the creeping plant to sovereign Man.
          Such converse, if directed by a meek,
          Sincere, and humble spirit, teaches love:
          For knowledge is delight; and such delight
          Breeds love: yet, suited as it rather is
          To thought and to the climbing intellect,
          It teaches less to love, than to adore;
          If that be not indeed the highest love!"                   350

            "Yet," said I, tempted here to interpose,
          "The dignity of life is not impaired
          By aught that innocently satisfies
          The humbler cravings of the heart; and he
          Is a still happier man, who, for those heights
          Of speculation not unfit, descends;
          And such benign affections cultivates
          Among the inferior kinds; not merely those
          That he may call his own, and which depend,
          As individual objects of regard,                           360
          Upon his care, from whom he also looks
          For signs and tokens of a mutual bond;
          But others, far beyond this narrow sphere,
          Whom, for the very sake of love, he loves.
          Nor is it a mean praise of rural life
          And solitude, that they do favour most,
          Most frequently call forth, and best sustain,
          These pure sensations; that can penetrate
          The obstreperous city; on the barren seas
          Are not unfelt; and much might recommend,                  370
          How much they might inspirit and endear,
          The loneliness of this sublime retreat!"

            "Yes," said the Sage, resuming the discourse
          Again directed to his downcast Friend,
          "If, with the froward will and grovelling soul
          Of man, offended, liberty is here,
          And invitation every hour renewed,
          To mark 'their' placid state, who never heard
          Of a command which they have power to break,
          Or rule which they are tempted to transgress:              380
          These, with a soothed or elevated heart,
          May we behold; their knowledge register;
          Observe their ways; and, free from envy, find
          Complacence there:--but wherefore this to you?
          I guess that, welcome to your lonely hearth,
          The redbreast, ruffled up by winter's cold
          Into a 'feathery bunch,' feeds at your hand:
          A box, perchance, is from your casement hung
          For the small wren to build in;--not in vain,
          The barriers disregarding that surround                    390
          This deep abiding place, before your sight
          Mounts on the breeze the butterfly; and soars,
          Small creature as she is, from earth's bright flowers,
          Into the dewy clouds. Ambition reigns
          In the waste wilderness: the Soul ascends
          Drawn towards her native firmament of heaven,
          When the fresh eagle, in the month of May,
          Upborne, at evening, on replenished wing,
          This shaded valley leaves; and leaves the dark
          Empurpled hills, conspicuously renewing                    400
          A proud communication with the sun
          Low sunk beneath the horizon!--List!--I heard,
          From yon huge breast of rock, a voice sent forth
          As if the visible mountain made the cry.
          Again!"--The effect upon the soul was such
          As he expressed: from out the mountain's heart
          The solemn voice appeared to issue, startling
          The blank air--for the region all around
          Stood empty of all shape of life, and silent
          Save for that single cry, the unanswered bleat             410
          Of a poor lamb--left somewhere to itself,
          The plaintive spirit of the solitude!
          He paused, as if unwilling to proceed,
          Through consciousness that silence in such place
          Was best, the most affecting eloquence.
          But soon his thoughts returned upon themselves,
          And, in soft tone of speech, thus he resumed.

            "Ah! if the heart, too confidently raised,
          Perchance too lightly occupied, or lulled
          Too easily, despise or overlook                            420
          The vassalage that binds her to the earth,
          Her sad dependence upon time, and all
          The trepidations of mortality,
          What place so destitute and void--but there
          The little flower her vanity shall check;
          The trailing worm reprove her thoughtless pride?

            These craggy regions, these chaotic wilds,
          Does that benignity pervade, that warms
          The mole contented with her darksome walk
          In the cold ground; and to the emmet gives                 430
          Her foresight, and intelligence that makes
          The tiny creatures strong by social league;
          Supports the generations, multiplies
          Their tribes, till we behold a spacious plain
          Or grassy bottom, all, with little hills--
          Their labour, covered, as a lake with waves;
          Thousands of cities, in the desert place
          Built up of life, and food, and means of life!
          Nor wanting here, to entertain the thought,
          Creatures that in communities exist,                       440
          Less, as might seem, for general guardianship
          Or through dependence upon mutual aid,
          Than by participation of delight
          And a strict love of fellowship, combined.
          What other spirit can it be that prompts
          The gilded summer flies to mix and weave
          Their sports together in the solar beam,
          Or in the gloom of twilight hum their joy?
          More obviously the self-same influence rules
          The feathered kinds; the fieldfare's pensive flock,        450
          The cawing rooks, and sea-mews from afar,
          Hovering above these inland solitudes,
          By the rough wind unscattered, at whose call
          Up through the trenches of the long-drawn vales
          Their voyage was begun: nor is its power
          Unfelt among the sedentary fowl
          That seek yon pool, and there prolong their stay
          In silent congress; or together roused
          Take flight; while with their clang the air resounds:
          And, over all, in that ethereal vault,                     460
          Is the mute company of changeful clouds;
          Bright apparition, suddenly put forth,
          The rainbow smiling on the faded storm;
          The mild assemblage of the starry heavens;
          And the great sun, earth's universal lord!

            How bountiful is Nature! he shall find
          Who seeks not; and to him, who hath not asked,
          Large measure shall be dealt. Three sabbath-days
          Are scarcely told, since, on a service bent
          Of mere humanity, you clomb those heights;                 470
          And what a marvellous and heavenly show
          Was suddenly revealed!--the swains moved on,
          And heeded not: you lingered, you perceived
          And felt, deeply as living man could feel.
          There is a luxury in self-dispraise;
          And inward self-disparagement affords
          To meditative spleen a grateful feast.
          Trust me, pronouncing on your own desert,
          You judge unthankfully: distempered nerves
          Infect the thoughts: the languor of the frame              480
          Depresses the soul's vigour. Quit your couch--
          Cleave not so fondly to your moody cell;
          Nor let the hallowed powers, that shed from heaven
          Stillness and rest, with disapproving eye
          Look down upon your taper, through a watch
          Of midnight hours, unseasonably twinkling
          In this deep Hollow, like a sullen star
          Dimly reflected in a lonely pool.
          Take courage, and withdraw yourself from ways
          That run not parallel to nature's course.                  490
          Rise with the lark! your matins shall obtain
          Grace, be their composition what it may,
          If but with hers performed; climb once again,
          Climb every day, those ramparts; meet the breeze
          Upon their tops, adventurous as a bee
          That from your garden thither soars, to feed
          On new-blown heath; let yon commanding rock
          Be your frequented watch-tower; roll the stone
          In thunder down the mountains; with all your might
          Chase the wild goat; and if the bold red deer              500
          Fly to those harbours, driven by hound and horn
          Loud echoing, add your speed to the pursuit;
          So, wearied to your hut shall you return,
          And sink at evening into sound repose."

            The Solitary lifted toward the hills
          A kindling eye:--accordant feelings rushed
          Into my bosom, whence these words broke forth:
          "Oh! what a joy it were, in vigorous health,
          To have a body (this our vital frame
          With shrinking sensibility endued,                         510
          And all the nice regards of flesh and blood)
          And to the elements surrender it
          As if it were a spirit!--How divine,
          The liberty, for frail, for mortal, man
          To roam at large among unpeopled glens
          And mountainous retirements, only trod
          By devious footsteps; regions consecrate
          To oldest time! and, reckless of the storm
          That keeps the raven quiet in her nest,
          Be as a presence or a motion--one                          520
          Among the many there; and while the mists
          Flying, and rainy vapours, call out shapes
          And phantoms from the crags and solid earth
          As fast as a musician scatters sounds
          Out of an instrument; and while the streams
          (As at a first creation and in haste
          To exercise their untried faculties)
          Descending from the region of the clouds,
          And starting from the hollows of the earth
          More multitudinous every moment, rend                      530
          Their way before them--what a joy to roam
          An equal among mightiest energies;
          And haply sometimes with articulate voice,
          Amid the deafening tumult, scarcely heard
          By him that utters it, exclaim aloud,
          'Rage on ye elements! let moon and stars
          Their aspects lend, and mingle in their turn
          With this commotion (ruinous though it be)
          From day to night, from night to day, prolonged!'"

            "Yes," said the Wanderer, taking from my lips            540
          The strain of transport, "whosoe'er in youth
          Has, through ambition of his soul, given way
          To such desires, and grasped at such delight,
          Shall feel congenial stirrings late and long,
          In spite of all the weakness that life brings,
          Its cares and sorrows; he, though taught to own
          The tranquillizing power of time, shall wake,
          Wake sometimes to a noble restlessness--
          Loving the sports which once he gloried in.

            Compatriot, Friend, remote are Garry's hills,            550
          The streams far distant of your native glen;
          Yet is their form and image here expressed
          With brotherly resemblance. Turn your steps
          Wherever fancy leads; by day, by night,
          Are various engines working, not the same
          As those with which your soul in youth was moved,
          But by the great Artificer endowed
          With no inferior power. You dwell alone;
          You walk, you live, you speculate alone;
          Yet doth remembrance, like a sovereign prince,             560
          For you a stately gallery maintain
          Of gay or tragic pictures. You have seen,
          Have acted, suffered, travelled far, observed
          With no incurious eye; and books are yours,
          Within whose silent chambers treasure lies
          Preserved from age to age; more precious far
          Than that accumulated store of gold
          And orient gems, which, for a day of need,
          The Sultan hides deep in ancestral tombs.
          These hoards of truth you can unlock at will:              570
          And music waits upon your skilful touch,
          Sounds which the wandering shepherd from these heights
          Hears, and forgets his purpose;--furnished thus,
          How can you droop, if willing to be upraised?

            A piteous lot it were to flee from Man--
          Yet not rejoice in Nature. He, whose hours
          Are by domestic pleasures uncaressed
          And unenlivened; who exists whole years
          Apart from benefits received or done
          'Mid the transactions of the bustling crowd;               580
          Who neither hears, nor feels a wish to hear,
          Of the world's interests--such a one hath need
          Of a quick fancy, and an active heart,
          That, for the day's consumption, books may yield
          Food not unwholesome; earth and air correct
          His morbid humour, with delight supplied
          Or solace, varying as the seasons change.
          --Truth has her pleasure-grounds, her haunts of ease
          And easy contemplation; gay parterres,
          And labyrinthine walks, her sunny glades                   590
          And shady groves in studied contrast--each,
          For recreation, leading into each:
          These may he range, if willing to partake
          Their soft indulgences, and in due time
          May issue thence, recruited for the tasks
          And course of service Truth requires from those
          Who tend her altars, wait upon her throne,
          And guard her fortresses. Who thinks, and feels,
          And recognises ever and anon
          The breeze of nature stirring in his soul,                 600
          Why need such man go desperately astray,
          And nurse 'the dreadful appetite of death?'
          If tired with systems, each in its degree
          Substantial, and all crumbling in their turn,
          Let him build systems of his own, and smile
          At the fond work, demolished with a touch;
          If unreligious, let him be at once,
          Among ten thousand innocents, enrolled
          A pupil in the many-chambered school,
          Where superstition weaves her airy dreams.                 610

            Life's autumn past, I stand on winter's verge;
          And daily lose what I desire to keep:
          Yet rather would I instantly decline
          To the traditionary sympathies
          Of a most rustic ignorance, and take
          A fearful apprehension from the owl
          Or death-watch: and as readily rejoice,
          If two auspicious magpies crossed my way;--
          To this would rather bend than see and hear
          The repetitions wearisome of sense,                        620
          Where soul is dead, and feeling hath no place;
          Where knowledge, ill begun in cold remark
          On outward things, with formal inference ends;
          Or, if the mind turn inward, she recoils
          At once--or, not recoiling, is perplexed--
          Lost in a gloom of uninspired research;
          Meanwhile, the heart within the heart, the seat
          Where peace and happy consciousness should dwell,
          On its own axis restlessly revolving,
          Seeks, yet can nowhere find, the light of truth.           630

            Upon the breast of new-created earth
          Man walked; and when and wheresoe'er he moved,
          Alone or mated, solitude was not.
          He heard, borne on the wind, the articulate voice
          Of God; and Angels to his sight appeared
          Crowning the glorious hills of paradise;
          Or through the groves gliding like morning mist
          Enkindled by the sun. He sate--and talked
          With winged Messengers; who daily brought
          To his small island in the ethereal deep                   640
          Tidings of joy and love.--From those pure heights
          (Whether of actual vision, sensible
          To sight and feeling, or that in this sort
          Have condescendingly been shadowed forth
          Communications spiritually maintained,
          And intuitions moral and divine)
          Fell Human-kind--to banishment condemned
          That flowing years repealed not: and distress
          And grief spread wide; but Man escaped the doom
          Of destitution;--solitude was not.                         650
          --Jehovah--shapeless Power above all Powers,
          Single and one, the omnipresent God,
          By vocal utterance, or blaze of light,
          Or cloud of darkness, localised in heaven;
          On earth, enshrined within the wandering ark;
          Or, out of Sion, thundering from his throne
          Between the Cherubim--on the chosen Race
          Showered miracles, and ceased not to dispense
          Judgments, that filled the land from age to age
          With hope, and love, and gratitude, and fear;              660
          And with amazement smote;--thereby to assert
          His scorned, or unacknowledged, sovereignty.
          And when the One, ineffable of name,
          Of nature indivisible, withdrew
          From mortal adoration or regard,
          Not then was Deity engulphed; nor Man,
          The rational creature, left, to feel the weight
          Of his own reason, without sense or thought
          Of higher reason and a purer will,
          To benefit and bless, through mightier power:--            670
          Whether the Persian--zealous to reject
          Altar and image, and the inclusive walls
          And roofs of temples built by human hands--
          To loftiest heights ascending, from their tops,
          With myrtle-wreathed tiara on his brow,
          Presented sacrifice to moon and stars,
          And to the winds and mother elements,
          And the whole circle of the heavens, for him
          A sensitive existence, and a God,
          With lifted hands invoked, and songs of praise:            680
          Or, less reluctantly to bonds of sense
          Yielding his soul, the Babylonian framed
          For influence undefined a personal shape;
          And, from the plain, with toil immense, upreared
          Tower eight times planted on the top of tower,
          That Belus, nightly to his splendid couch
          Descending, there might rest; upon that height
          Pure and serene, diffused--to overlook
          Winding Euphrates, and the city vast
          Of his devoted worshippers, far-stretched,                 690
          With grove and field and garden interspersed;
          Their town, and foodful region for support
          Against the pressure of beleaguering war.

            Chaldean Shepherds, ranging trackless fields,
          Beneath the concave of unclouded skies
          Spread like a sea, in boundless solitude,
          Looked on the polar star, as on a guide
          And guardian of their course, that never closed
          His stedfast eye. The planetary Five
          With a submissive reverence they beheld;                   700
          Watched, from the centre of their sleeping flocks,
          Those radiant Mercuries, that seemed to move
          Carrying through ether, in perpetual round,
          Decrees and resolutions of the Gods;
          And, by their aspects, signifying works
          Of dim futurity, to Man revealed.
          --The imaginative faculty was lord
          Of observations natural; and, thus
          Led on, those shepherds made report of stars
          In set rotation passing to and fro,                        710
          Between the orbs of our apparent sphere
          And its invisible counterpart, adorned
          With answering constellations, under earth,
          Removed from all approach of living sight
          But present to the dead; who, so they deemed,
          Like those celestial messengers beheld
          All accidents, and judges were of all.

            The lively Grecian, in a land of hills,
          Rivers and fertile plains, and sounding shores,--
          Under a cope of sky more variable,                         720
          Could find commodious place for every God,
          Promptly received, as prodigally brought,
          From the surrounding countries, at the choice
          Of all adventurers. With unrivalled skill,
          As nicest observation furnished hints
          For studious fancy, his quick hand bestowed
          On fluent operations a fixed shape;
          Metal or stone, idolatrously served.
          And yet--triumphant o'er this pompous show
          Of art, this palpable array of sense,                      730
          On every side encountered; in despite
          Of the gross fictions chanted in the streets
          By wandering Rhapsodists; and in contempt
          Of doubt and bold denial hourly urged
          Amid the wrangling schools--a SPIRIT hung,
          Beautiful region! o'er thy towns and farms,
          Statues and temples, and memorial tombs;
          And emanations were perceived; and acts
          Of immortality, in Nature's course,
          Exemplified by mysteries, that were felt                   740
          As bonds, on grave philosopher imposed
          And armed warrior; and in every grove
          A gay or pensive tenderness prevailed,
          When piety more awful had relaxed.
          --'Take, running river, take these locks of mine'--
          Thus would the Votary say--'this severed hair,
          'My vow fulfilling, do I here present,
          'Thankful for my beloved child's return.
          'Thy banks, Cephisus, he again hath trod,
          'Thy murmurs heard; and drunk the crystal lymph            750
          'With which thou dost refresh the thirsty lip,
          'And, all day long, moisten these flowery fields!'
          And doubtless, sometimes, when the hair was shed
          Upon the flowing stream, a thought arose
          Of Life continuous, Being unimpaired;
          That hath been, is, and where it was and is
          There shall endure,--existence unexposed
          To the blind walk of mortal accident;
          From diminution safe and weakening age;
          While man grows old, and dwindles, and decays;             760
          And countless generations of mankind
          Depart; and leave no vestige where they trod.

            We live by Admiration, Hope and Love;
          And, even as these are well and wisely fixed,
          In dignity of being we ascend.
          But what is error?"--"Answer he who can!"
          The Sceptic somewhat haughtily exclaimed:
          "Love, Hope, and Admiration,--are they not
          Mad Fancy's favourite vassals? Does not life
          Use them, full oft, as pioneers to ruin,                   770
          Guides to destruction? Is it well to trust
          Imagination's light when reason's fails,
          The unguarded taper where the guarded faints?
          --Stoop from those heights, and soberly declare
          What error is; and, of our errors, which
          Doth most debase the mind; the genuine seats
          Of power, where are they? Who shall regulate,
          With truth, the scale of intellectual rank?"

            "Methinks," persuasively the Sage replied,
          "That for this arduous office you possess                  780
          Some rare advantages. Your early days
          A grateful recollection must supply
          Of much exalted good by Heaven vouchsafed
          To dignify the humblest state.--Your voice
          Hath, in my hearing, often testified
          That poor men's children, they, and they alone,
          By their condition taught, can understand
          The wisdom of the prayer that daily asks
          For daily bread. A consciousness is yours
          How feelingly religion may be learned                      790
          In smoky cabins, from a mother's tongue--
          Heard where the dwelling vibrates to the din
          Of the contiguous torrent, gathering strength
          At every moment--and, with strength, increase
          Of fury; or, while snow is at the door,
          Assaulting and defending, and the wind,
          A sightless labourer, whistles at his work--
          Fearful; but resignation tempers fear,
          And piety is sweet to infant minds.
          --The Shepherd-lad, that in the sunshine carves,           800
          On the green turf, a dial--to divide
          The silent hours; and who to that report
          Can portion out his pleasures, and adapt,
          Throughout a long and lonely summer's day
          His round of pastoral duties, is not left
          With less intelligence for 'moral' things
          Of gravest import. Early he perceives,
          Within himself, a measure and a rule,
          Which to the sun of truth he can apply,
          That shines for him, and shines for all mankind.           810
          Experience daily fixing his regards
          On nature's wants, he knows how few they are,
          And where they lie, how answered and appeased.
          This knowledge ample recompense affords
          For manifold privations; he refers
          His notions to this standard; on this rock
          Rests his desires; and hence, in after life,
          Soul-strengthening patience, and sublime content.
          Imagination--not permitted here
          To waste her powers, as in the worldling's mind,           820
          On fickle pleasures, and superfluous cares,
          And trivial ostentation--is left free
          And puissant to range the solemn walks
          Of time and nature, girded by a zone
          That, while it binds, invigorates and supports.
          Acknowledge, then, that whether by the side
          Of his poor hut, or on the mountain top,
          Or in the cultured field, a Man so bred
          (Take from him what you will upon the score
          Of ignorance or illusion) lives and breathes               830
          For noble purposes of mind: his heart
          Beats to the heroic song of ancient days;
          His eye distinguishes, his soul creates.
          And those illusions, which excite the scorn
          Or move the pity of unthinking minds,
          Are they not mainly outward ministers
          Of inward conscience? with whose service charged
          They came and go, appeared and disappear,
          Diverting evil purposes, remorse
          Awakening, chastening an intemperate grief,                840
          Or pride of heart abating: and, whene'er
          For less important ends those phantoms move,
          Who would forbid them, if their presence serve--
          On thinly-peopled mountains and wild heaths,
          Filling a space, else vacant--to exalt
          The forms of Nature, and enlarge her powers?

            Once more to distant ages of the world
          Let us revert, and place before our thoughts
          The face which rural solitude might wear
          To the unenlightened swains of pagan Greece.               850
          --In that fair clime, the lonely herdsman, stretched
          On the soft grass through half a summer's day,
          With music lulled his indolent repose:
          And, in some fit of weariness, if he,
          When his own breath was silent, chanced to hear
          A distant strain, far sweeter than the sounds
          Which his poor skill could make, his fancy fetched,
          Even from the blazing chariot of the sun,
          A beardless Youth, who touched a golden lute,
          And filled the illumined groves with ravishment.           860
          The nightly hunter, lifting a bright eye
          Up towards the crescent moon, with grateful heart
          Called on the lovely wanderer who bestowed
          That timely light, to share his joyous sport:
          And hence, a beaming Goddess with her Nymphs,
          Across the lawn and through the darksome grove,
          Not unaccompanied with tuneful notes
          By echo multiplied from rock or cave,
          Swept in the storm of chase; as moon and stars
          Glance rapidly along the clouded heaven,                   870
          When winds are blowing strong. The traveller slaked
          His thirst from rill or gushing fount, and thanked
          The Naiad. Sunbeams, upon distant hills
          Gliding apace, with shadows in their train,
          Might, with small help from fancy, be transformed
          Into fleet Oreads sporting visibly.
          The Zephyrs fanning, as they passed, their wings,
          Lacked not, for love, fair objects whom they wooed
          With gentle whisper. Withered boughs grotesque,
          Stripped of their leaves and twigs by hoary age,           880
          From depth of shaggy covert peeping forth
          In the low vale, or on steep mountain side;
          And, sometimes, intermixed with stirring horns
          Of the live deer, or goat's depending beard,--
          These were the lurking Satyrs, a wild brood
          Of gamesome Deities; or Pan himself,
          The simple shepherd's awe-inspiring God!"

            The strain was aptly chosen; and I could mark
          Its kindly influence, o'er the yielding brow
          Of our Companion, gradually diffused;                      890
          While, listening, he had paced the noiseless turf,
          Like one whose untired ear a murmuring stream
          Detains; but tempted now to interpose,
          He with a smile exclaimed:--
                                        "'Tis well you speak
          At a safe distance from our native land,
          And from the mansions where our youth was taught.
          The true descendants of those godly men
          Who swept from Scotland, in a flame of zeal,
          Shrine, altar, image, and the massy piles
          That harboured them,--the souls retaining yet              900
          The churlish features of that after-race
          Who fled to woods, caverns, and jutting rocks,
          In deadly scorn of superstitious rites,
          Or what their scruples construed to be such--
          How, think you, would they tolerate this scheme
          Of fine propensities, that tends, if urged
          Far as it might be urged, to sow afresh
          The weeds of Romish phantasy, in vain
          Uprooted; would re-consecrate our wells
          To good Saint Fillan and to fair Saint Anne;               910
          And from long banishment recall Saint Giles,
          To watch again with tutelary love
          O'er stately Edinborough throned on crags?
          A blessed restoration, to behold
          The patron, on the shoulders of his priests,
          Once more parading through her crowded streets,
          Now simply guarded by the sober powers
          Of science, and philosophy, and sense!"

            This answer followed.--"You have turned my thoughts
          Upon our brave Progenitors, who rose                       920
          Against idolatry with warlike mind,
          And shrunk from vain observances, to lurk
          In woods, and dwell under impending rocks
          Ill-sheltered, and oft wanting fire and food;
          Why?--for this very reason that they felt,
          And did acknowledge, wheresoe'er they moved,
          A spiritual presence, oft-times misconceived,
          But still a high dependence, a divine
          Bounty and government, that filled their hearts
          With joy, and gratitude, and fear, and love;               930
          And from their fervent lips drew hymns of praise,
          That through the desert rang. Though favoured less,
          Far less, than these, yet such, in their degree,
          Were those bewildered Pagans of old time.
          Beyond their own poor natures and above
          They looked; were humbly thankful for the good
          Which the warm sun solicited, and earth
          Bestowed; were gladsome,--and their moral sense
          They fortified with reverence for the Gods;
          And they had hopes that overstepped the Grave.             940

            Now, shall our great Discoverers," he exclaimed,
          Raising his voice triumphantly, "obtain
          From sense and reason, less than these obtained,
          Though far misled? Shall men for whom our age
          Unbaffled powers of vision hath prepared,
          To explore the world without and world within,
          Be joyless as the blind? Ambitious spirits--
          Whom earth, at this late season, hath produced
          To regulate the moving spheres, and weigh
          The planets in the hollow of their hand;                   950
          And they who rather dive than soar, whose pains
          Have solved the elements, or analysed
          The thinking principle--shall they in fact
          Prove a degraded Race? and what avails
          Renown, if their presumption make them such?
          Oh! there is laughter at their work in heaven!
          Inquire of ancient Wisdom; go, demand
          Of mighty Nature, if 'twas ever meant
          That we should pry far off yet be unraised;
          That we should pore, and dwindle as we pore,               960
          Viewing all objects unremittingly
          In disconnection dead and spiritless;
          And still dividing, and dividing still,
          Break down all grandeur, still unsatisfied
          With the perverse attempt, while littleness
          May yet become more little; waging thus
          An impious warfare with the very life
          Of our own souls!
                             And if indeed there be
          An all-pervading Spirit, upon whom
          Our dark foundations rest, could he design                 970
          That this magnificent effect of power,
          The earth we tread, the sky that we behold
          By day, and all the pomp which night reveals;
          That these--and that superior mystery
          Our vital frame, so fearfully devised,
          And the dread soul within it--should exist
          Only to be examined, pondered, searched,
          Probed, vexed, and criticised? Accuse me not
          Of arrogance, unknown Wanderer as I am,
          If, having walked with Nature threescore years,            980
          And offered, far as frailty would allow,
          My heart a daily sacrifice to Truth,
          I now affirm of Nature and of Truth,
          Whom I have served, that their DIVINITY
          Revolts, offended at the ways of men
          Swayed by such motives, to such ends employed;
          Philosophers, who, though the human soul
          Be of a thousand faculties composed,
          And twice ten thousand interests, do yet prize
          This soul, and the transcendent universe,                  990
          No more than as a mirror that reflects
          To proud Self-love her own intelligence;
          That one, poor, finite object, in the abyss
          Of infinite Being, twinkling restlessly!

             Nor higher place can be assigned to him
          And his compeers--the laughing Sage of France.--
          Crowned was he, if my memory do not err,
          With laurel planted upon hoary hairs,
          In sign of conquest by his wit achieved
          And benefits his wisdom had conferred;                    1000
          His stooping body tottered with wreaths of flowers
          Opprest, far less becoming ornaments
          Than Spring oft twines about a mouldering tree;
          Yet so it pleased a fond, a vain, old Man,
          And a most frivolous people. Him I mean
          Who penned, to ridicule confiding faith,
          This sorry Legend; which by chance we found
          Piled in a nook, through malice, as might seem,
          Among more innocent rubbish."--Speaking thus,
          With a brief notice when, and how, and where,             1010
          We had espied the book, he drew it forth;
          And courteously, as if the act removed,
          At once, all traces from the good Man's heart
          Of unbenign aversion or contempt,
          Restored it to its owner. "Gentle Friend,"
          Herewith he grasped the Solitary's hand,
          "You have known lights and guides better than these.
          Ah! let not aught amiss within dispose
          A noble mind to practise on herself,
          And tempt opinion to support the wrongs                   1020
          Of passion: whatsoe'er be felt or feared,
          From higher judgment-seats make no appeal
          To lower: can you question that the soul
          Inherits an allegiance, not by choice
          To be cast off, upon an oath proposed
          By each new upstart notion? In the ports
          Of levity no refuge can be found,
          No shelter, for a spirit in distress.
          He, who by wilful disesteem of life
          And proud insensibility to hope,                          1030
          Affronts the eye of Solitude, shall learn
          That her mild nature can be terrible;
          That neither she nor Silence lack the power
          To avenge their own insulted majesty.

            O blest seclusion! when the mind admits
          The law of duty; and can therefore move
          Through each vicissitude of loss and gain,
          Linked in entire complacence with her choice;
          When youth's presumptuousness is mellowed down,
          And manhood's vain anxiety dismissed;                     1040
          When wisdom shows her seasonable fruit,
          Upon the boughs of sheltering leisure hung
          In sober plenty; when the spirit stoops
          To drink with gratitude the crystal stream
          Of unreproved enjoyment; and is pleased
          To muse, and be saluted by the air
          Of meek repentance, wafting wall-flower scents
          From out the crumbling ruins of fallen pride
          And chambers of transgression, now forlorn.
          O, calm contented days, and peaceful nights!              1050
          Who, when such good can be obtained, would strive
          To reconcile his manhood to a couch
          Soft, as may seem, but, under that disguise,
          Stuffed with the thorny substance of the past
          For fixed annoyance; and full oft beset
          With floating dreams, black and disconsolate,
          The vapoury phantoms of futurity?

            Within the soul a faculty abides,
          That with interpositions, which would hide
          And darken, so can deal that they become                  1060
          Contingencies of pomp; and serve to exalt
          Her native brightness. As the ample moon,
          In the deep stillness of a summer even
          Rising behind a thick and lofty grove,
          Burns, like an unconsuming fire of light,
          In the green trees; and, kindling on all sides
          Their leafy umbrage, turns the dusky veil
          Into a substance glorious as her own,
          Yea, with her own incorporated, by power
          Capacious and serene. Like power abides                   1070
          In man's celestial spirit; virtue thus
          Sets forth and magnifies herself; thus feeds
          A calm, a beautiful, and silent fire,
          From the encumbrances of mortal life,
          From error, disappointment--nay, from guilt;
          And sometimes, so relenting justice wills,
          From palpable oppressions of despair."

            The Solitary by these words was touched
          With manifest emotion, and exclaimed;
          "But how begin? and whence?--'The Mind is free--          1080
          Resolve,' the haughty Moralist would say,
          'This single act is all that we demand.'
          Alas! such wisdom bids a creature fly
          Whose very sorrow is, that time hath shorn
          His natural wings!--To friendship let him turn
          For succour, but perhaps he sits alone
          On stormy waters, tossed in a little boat
          That holds but him, and can contain no more!
          Religion tells of amity sublime
          Which no condition can preclude; of One                   1090
          Who sees all suffering, comprehends all wants,
          All weakness fathoms, can supply all needs:
          But is that bounty absolute?--His gifts,
          Are they not, still, in some degree, rewards
          For acts of service? Can his love extend
          To hearts that own not him? Will showers of grace,
          When in the sky no promise may be seen,
          Fall to refresh a parched and withered land?
          Or shall the groaning Spirit cast her load
          At the Redeemer's feet?"
                                    In rueful tone,                 1100
          With some impatience in his mien, he spake:
          Back to my mind rushed all that had been urged
          To calm the Sufferer when his story closed;
          I looked for counsel as unbending now;
          But a discriminating sympathy
          Stooped to this apt reply:--
                                        "As men from men
          Do, in the constitution of their souls,
          Differ, by mystery not to be explained;
          And as we fall by various ways, and sink
          One deeper than another, self-condemned,                  1110
          Through manifold degrees of guilt and shame;
          So manifold and various are the ways
          Of restoration, fashioned to the steps
          Of all infirmity, and tending all
          To the same point, attainable by all--
          Peace in ourselves, and union with our God.
          For you, assuredly, a hopeful road
          Lies open: we have heard from you a voice
          At every moment softened in its course
          By tenderness of heart; have seen your eye,               1120
          Even like an altar lit by fire from heaven,
          Kindle before us.--Your discourse this day,
          That, like the fabled Lethe, wished to flow
          In creeping sadness, through oblivious shades
          Of death and night, has caught at every turn
          The colours of the sun. Access for you
          Is yet preserved to principles of truth,
          Which the imaginative Will upholds
          In seats of wisdom, not to be approached
          By the inferior Faculty that moulds,                      1130
          With her minute and speculative pains,
          Opinion, ever changing!
                                   I have seen
          A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
          Of inland ground, applying to his ear
          The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell;
          To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
          Listened intensely; and his countenance soon
          Brightened with joy; for from within were heard
          Murmurings, whereby the monitor expressed
          Mysterious union with its native sea.                     1140
          Even such a shell the universe itself
          Is to the ear of Faith; and there are times,
          I doubt not, when to you it doth impart
          Authentic tidings of invisible things;
          Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power;
          And central peace, subsisting at the heart
          Of endless agitation. Here you stand,
          Adore, and worship, when you know it not;
          Pious beyond the intention of your thought;
          Devout above the meaning of your will.                    1150
          --Yes, you have felt, and may not cease to feel.
          The estate of man would be indeed forlorn
          If false conclusions of the reasoning power
          Made the eye blind, and closed the passages
          Through which the ear converses with the heart.
          Has not the soul, the being of your life,
          Received a shock of awful consciousness,
          In some calm season, when these lofty rocks
          At night's approach bring down the unclouded sky,
          To rest upon their circumambient walls;                   1160
          A temple framing of dimensions vast,
          And yet not too enormous for the sound
          Of human anthems,--choral song, or burst
          Sublime of instrumental harmony,
          To glorify the Eternal! What if these
          Did never break the stillness that prevails
          Here,--if the solemn nightingale be mute,
          And the soft woodlark here did never chant
          Her vespers,--Nature fails not to provide
          Impulse and utterance. The whispering air                 1170
          Sends inspiration from the shadowy heights,
          And blind recesses of the caverned rocks;
          The little rills, and waters numberless,
          Inaudible by daylight, blend their notes
          With the loud streams: and often, at the hour
          When issue forth the first pale stars, is heard,
          Within the circuit of this fabric huge,
          One voice--the solitary raven, flying
          Athwart the concave of the dark blue dome,
          Unseen, perchance above all power of sight--              1180
          An iron knell! with echoes from afar
          Faint--and still fainter--as the cry, with which
          The wanderer accompanies her flight
          Through the calm region, fades upon the ear,
          Diminishing by distance till it seemed
          To expire; yet from the abyss is caught again,
          And yet again recovered!
                                    But descending
          From these imaginative heights, that yield
          Far-stretching views into eternity,
          Acknowledge that to Nature's humbler power                1190
          Your cherished sullenness is forced to bend
          Even here, where her amenities are sown
          With sparing hand. Then trust yourself abroad
          To range her blooming bowers, and spacious fields,
          Where on the labours of the happy throng
          She smiles, including in her wide embrace
          City, and town, and tower,--and sea with ships
          Sprinkled;--be our Companion while we track
          Her rivers populous with gliding life;
          While, free as air, o'er printless sands we march,        1200
          Or pierce the gloom of her majestic woods;
          Roaming, or resting under grateful shade
          In peace and meditative cheerfulness;
          Where living things, and things inanimate,
          Do speak, at Heaven's command, to eye and ear,
          And speak to social reason's inner sense,
          With inarticulate language.
                                       For, the Man--
          Who, in this spirit, communes with the Forms
          Of nature, who with understanding heart
          Both knows and loves such objects as excite               1210
          No morbid passions, no disquietude,
          No vengeance, and no hatred--needs must feel
          The joy of that pure principle of love
          So deeply, that, unsatisfied with aught
          Less pure and exquisite, he cannot choose
          But seek for objects of a kindred love
          In fellow-natures and a kindred joy.
          Accordingly he by degrees perceives
          His feelings of aversion softened down;
          A holy tenderness pervade his frame.                      1220
          His sanity of reason not impaired,
          Say rather, all his thoughts now flowing clear,
          From a clear fountain flowing, he looks round
          And seeks for good; and finds the good he seeks:
          Until abhorrence and contempt are things
          He only knows by name; and, if he hear,
          From other mouths, the language which they speak,
          He is compassionate; and has no thought,
          No feeling, which can overcome his love.

            And further; by contemplating these Forms               1230
          In the relations which they bear to man,
          He shall discern, how, through the various means
          Which silently they yield, are multiplied
          The spiritual presences of absent things.
          Trust me, that for the instructed, time will come
          When they shall meet no object but may teach
          Some acceptable lesson to their minds
          Of human suffering, or of human joy.
          So shall they learn, while all things speak of man,
          Their duties from all forms; and general laws,            1240
          And local accidents, shall tend alike
          To rouse, to urge; and, with the will, confer
          The ability to spread the blessings wide
          Of true philanthropy. The light of love
          Not failing, perseverance from their steps
          Departing not, for them shall be confirmed
          The glorious habit by which sense is made
          Subservient still to moral purposes,
          Auxiliar to divine. That change shall clothe
          The naked spirit, ceasing to deplore                      1250
          The burthen of existence. Science then
          Shall be a precious visitant; and then,
          And only then, be worthy of her name:
          For then her heart shall kindle; her dull eye,
          Dull and inanimate, no more shall hang
          Chained to its object in brute slavery;
          But taught with patient interest to watch
          The processes of things, and serve the cause
          Of order and distinctness, not for this
          Shall it forget that its most noble use,                  1260
          Its most illustrious province, must be found
          In furnishing clear guidance, a support
          Not treacherous, to the mind's 'excursive' power.
          --So build we up the Being that we are;
          Thus deeply drinking-in the soul of things
          We shall be wise perforce; and, while inspired
          By choice, and conscious that the Will is free,
          Shall move unswerving, even as if impelled
          By strict necessity, along the path
          Of order and of good. Whate'er we see,                    1270
          Or feel, shall tend to quicken and refine;
          Shall fix, in calmer seats of moral strength,
          Earthly desires; and raise, to loftier heights
          Of divine love, our intellectual soul."

            Here closed the Sage that eloquent harangue,
          Poured forth with fervour in continuous stream,
          Such as, remote, 'mid savage wilderness,
          An Indian Chief discharges from his breast
          Into the hearing of assembled tribes,
          In open circle seated round, and hushed                   1280
          As the unbreathing air, when not a leaf
          Stirs in the mighty woods.--So did he speak:
          The words he uttered shall not pass away
          Dispersed, like music that the wind takes up
          By snatches, and lets fall, to be forgotten;
          No--they sank into me, the bounteous gift
          Of one whom time and nature had made wise,
          Gracing his doctrine with authority
          Which hostile spirits silently allow;
          Of one accustomed to desires that feed                    1290
          On fruitage gathered from the tree of life;
          To hopes on knowledge and experience built;
          Of one in whom persuasion and belief
          Had ripened into faith, and faith become
          A passionate intuition; whence the Soul,
          Though bound to earth by ties of pity and love,
          From all injurious servitude was free.

            The Sun, before his place of rest were reached,
          Had yet to travel far, but unto us,
          To us who stood low in that hollow dell,                  1300
          He had become invisible,--a pomp
          Leaving behind of yellow radiance spread
          Over the mountain sides, in contrast bold
          With ample shadows, seemingly, no less
          Than those resplendent lights, his rich bequest;
          A dispensation of his evening power.
          --Adown the path that from the glen had led
          The funeral train, the Shepherd and his Mate
          Were seen descending:--forth to greet them ran
          Our little Page: the rustic pair approach;                1310
          And in the Matron's countenance may be read
          Plain indication that the words, which told
          How that neglected Pensioner was sent
          Before his time into a quiet grave,
          Had done to her humanity no wrong:
          But we are kindly welcomed--promptly served
          With ostentatious zeal.--Along the floor
          Of the small Cottage in the lonely Dell
          A grateful couch was spread for our repose;
          Where, in the guise of mountaineers, we lay,              1320
          Stretched upon fragrant heath, and lulled by sound
          Of far-off torrents charming the still night,
          And, to tired limbs and over-busy thoughts,
          Inviting sleep and soft forgetfulness.

   NOTES

  130 ''Tis, by comparison, an easy task
      Earth to despise,' etc.

        See, upon this subject, Baxter's most interesting review of his 
      own opinions and sentiments in the decline of life. It may be 
      found (lately reprinted) in Dr. Wordsworth's "Ecclesiastical 
      Biography."

  205 'Alas! the endowment of immortal Power
      Is matched unequally with custom, time,' etc.

        This subject is treated at length in the Ode--Intimations of 
      Immortality.

  324 'Knowing the heart of man is set to be,' etc.

        The passage quoted from Daniel is taken from a poem addressed to 
      the Lady Margaret, Countess of Cumberland, and the two last lines, 
      printed in Italics, are by him translated from Seneca. The whole 
      Poem is very beautiful. I will transcribe four stanzas from it, as 
      they contain an admirable picture of the state of a wise Man's 
      mind in a time of public commotion.

      Nor is he moved with all the thunder-cracks
      Of tyrant's threats, or with the surly brow
      Of Power, that proudly sits on others' crimes;
      Charged with more crying sins than those he checks.
      The storms of sad confusion that may grow
      Up in the present for the coming times,
      Appal not him; that hath no side at all,
      But of himself, and knows the worst can fall.

      Although his heart (so near allied to earth)
      Cannot but pity the perplexed state
      Of troublous and distressed mortality,
      That thus make way unto the ugly birth
      Of their own sorrows, and do still beget
      Affliction upon Imbecility:
      Yet seeing thus the course of things must run,
      He looks thereon not strange, but as fore-done.

      And whilst distraught ambition compasses,
      And is encompassed, while as craft deceives,
      And is deceived: whilst man doth ransack man,
      And builds on blood, and rises by distress;
      And th' Inheritance of desolation leaves
      To great-expecting hopes: He looks thereon,
      As from the shore of peace, with unwet eye,
      And bears no venture in Impiety.

      Thus, Lady, fares that man that hath prepared
      A rest for his desires; and sees all things
      Beneath him; and hath learned this book of man,
      Full of the notes of frailty; and compared
      The best of glory with her sufferings:
      By whom, I see, you labour all you can
      To plant your heart! and set your thoughts as near
      His glorious mansion as your powers can bear.


CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


  PREVIOUS NEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors