Abbildungen der Seite

Of the same breath are shattered and destroyed.
Meantime the sovereignty of these fair Isles
Remains entire and indivisible:

And, if that ignorance were removed, which breeds
Within the compass of their several shores
Dark discontent, or loud commotion, each
Might still preserve the beautiful repose

Of heavenly bodies shining in their spheres.
-The discipline of slavery is unknown
Among us, hence the more do we require
The discipline of virtue; order else
Cannot subsist, nor confidence, nor peace.
Thus, duties rising out of good possest
And prudent caution needful to avert
Impending evil, equally require

Expect these mighty issues: from the pains And faithful care of unambitious schools Instructing simple childhood's ready ear: Thence look for these magnificent results! -Vast the circumference of hope and ye Are at its centre, British Lawgivers;

Ah! sleep not there in shame! Shall Wisdom's voice
From out the bosom of these troubled times
Repeat the dictates of her calmer mind,
And shall the venerable halls ye fill
Refuse to echo the sublime decree?
Trust not to partial care a general good;
Transfer not to futurity a work

Of urgent need.-Your Country must complete
Her glorious destiny. Begin even now,

That the whole people should be taught and trained. Now, when oppression, like the Egyptian plague

So shall licentiousness and black resolve

Be rooted out, and virtuous habits take Their place; and genuine piety descend, Like an inheritance, from age to age.

With such foundations laid, avaunt the fear Of numbers crowded on their native soil, To the prevention of all healthful growth Through mutual injury! Rather in the law Of increase and the mandate from above Rejoice!—and ye have special cause for joy. -For, as the element of air affords An easy passage to the industrious bees Fraught with their burthens; and a way as smooth For those ordained to take their sounding flight From the thronged hive, and settle where they list In fresh abodes-their labour to renew; So the wide waters, open to the power, The will, the instincts, and appointed needs Of Britain, do invite her to cast off

Her swarms, and in succession send them forth; Bound to establish new communities

On every shore whose aspect favours hope

Or bold adventure; promising to skill
And perseverance their deserved reward.

Yes," he continued, kindling as he spake, "Change wide, and deep, and silently performed, This Land shall witness; and as days roll on, Earth's universal frame shall feel the effect; Even till the smallest habitable rock, Beaten by lonely billows, hear the songs Of humanised society; and bloom

With civil arts, that shall breathe forth their fragrance,

A grateful tribute to all-ruling Heaven.
From culture, unexclusively bestowed
On Albion's noble Race in freedom born,

Of darkness, stretched o'er guilty Europe, makes
The brightness more conspicuous that invests
The happy Island where ye think and act ;
Now, when destruction is a prime pursuit,
Show to the wretched nations for what end
The powers of civil polity were given."

Abruptly here, but with a graceful air,
The Sage broke off. No sooner had he ceased
Than, looking forth, the gentle Lady said,
"Behold the shades of afternoon have fallen
Upon this flowery slope; and see-beyond—
The silvery lake is streaked with placid blue;
As if preparing for the peace of evening.
How temptingly the landscape shines! The air
Breathes invitation; easy is the walk

To the lake's margin, where a boat lies moored
Under a sheltering tree."-Upon this hint
We rose together: all were pleased; but most
The beauteous girl, whose cheek was flushed with joy.
Light as a sunbeam glides along the hills
She vanished-eager to impart the scheme
To her loved brother and his shy compeer.
-Now was there bustle in the Vicar's house
And earnest preparation.-Forth we went,
And down the vale along the streamlet's edge
Pursued our way, a broken company,
Mute or conversing, single or in pairs.
Thus having reached a bridge, that overarched
The hasty rivulet where it lay becalmed
In a deep pool, by happy chance we saw
A two-fold image; on a grassy bank
A snow-white ram, and in the crystal flood
Another and the same! Most beautiful,
On the green turf, with his imperial front
Shaggy and bold, and wreathed horns superb,
The breathing creature stood; as beautiful,
Beneath him, shewed his shadowy counterpart.

Each had his glowing mountains, each his sky,
And each seemed centre of his own fair world:
Antipodes unconscious of each other,
Yet, in partition, with their several spheres,
Blended in perfect stillness, to our sight!

"Ah! what a pity were it to disperse, Or to disturb, so fair a spectacle, And yet a breath can do it!"

These few words The Lady whispered, while we stood and gazed Gathered together, all in still delight,

Not without awe. Thence passing on, she said
In like low voice to my particular ear,
"I love to hear that eloquent old Man
Pour forth his meditations, and descant
On human life from infancy to age.
How pure his spirit! in what vivid hues

His mind gives back the various forms of things,
Caught in their fairest, happiest, attitude!
While he is speaking, I have power to see
Even as he sees; but when his voice hath ceased,
Then, with a sigh, sometimes I feel, as now,
That combinations so serene and bright
Cannot be lasting in a world like ours,
Whose highest beauty, beautiful as it is,
Like that reflected in yon quiet pool,
Seems but a fleeting sun-beam's gift, whose peace
The sufferance only of a breath of air!"

More had she said-but sportive shouts were heard Sent from the jocund hearts of those two Boys, Who, bearing each a basket on his arm, Down the green field came tripping after us. With caution we embarked; and now the pair For prouder service were addrest; but each, Wishful to leave an opening for my choice, Dropped the light oar his eager hand had seized. Thanks given for that becoming courtesy, Their place I took-and for a grateful office Pregnant with recollections of the time When, on thy bosom, spacious Windermere! A Youth, I practised this delightful art; Tossed on the waves alone, or 'mid a crew Of joyous comrades. Soon as the reedy marge Was cleared, I dipped, with arms accordant, oars Free from obstruction; and the boat advanced Through crystal water, smoothly as a hawk, That, disentangled from the shady boughs Of some thick wood, her place of covert, cleaves With correspondent wings the abyss of air.

"Observe," the Vicar said, "yon rocky isle With birch-trees fringed; my hand shall guide the helm,

While thitherward we shape our course; or while
We seek that other, on the western shore ;
Where the bare columns of those lofty firs,
Supporting gracefully a massy dome

Of sombre foliage, seem to imitate

A Grecian temple rising from the Deep."

"Turn where we may," said I, "we cannot err
In this delicious region."-Cultured slopes,
Wild tracts of forest-ground, and scattered groves,
And mountains bare, or clothed with ancient woods,
Surrounded us; and, as we held our way
Along the level of the glassy flood,

They ceased not to surround us; change of place,
From kindred features diversely combined,
Producing change of beauty ever new.
-Ah! that such beauty, varying in the light
Of living nature, cannot be portrayed
By words, nor by the pencil's silent skill;
But is the property of him alone
Who hath beheld it, noted it with care,
And in his mind recorded it with love!
Suffice it, therefore, if the rural Muse
Vouchsafe sweet influence, while her Poet speaks
Of trivial occupations well devised,

And unsought pleasures springing up by chance;
As if some friendly Genius had ordained
That, as the day thus far had been enriched
By acquisition of sincere delight,

The same should be continued to its close.

One spirit animating old and young,
A gipsy-fire we kindled on the shore
Of the fair Isle with birch-trees fringed-and there,
Merrily seated in a ring, partook

A choice repast-served by our young companions
With rival earnestness and kindred glee.
Launched from our hands the smooth stone

skimmed the lake;

With shouts we raised the echoes ;-stiller sounds
The lovely Girl supplied-a simple song,

Whose low tones reached not to the distant rocks
To be repeated thence, but gently sank
Into our hearts; and charmed the peaceful flood.
Rapaciously we gathered flowery spoils
From land and water; lilies of each hue-
Golden and white, that float upon the waves,
And court the wind; and leaves of that shy plant,
(Her flowers were shed) the lily of the vale,
That loves the ground, and from the sun withholds
Her pensive beauty; from the breeze her sweets.

Such product, and such pastime, did the place And season yield; but, as we re-embarked,

Leaving, in quest of other scenes, the shore
Of that wild spot, the Solitary said
In a low voice, yet careless who might hear,
"The fire, that burned so brightly to our wish,
Where is it now?-Deserted on the beach-
Dying, or dead! Nor shall the fanning breeze
Revive its ashes. What care we for this,
Whose ends are gained? Behold an emblem here
Of one day's pleasure, and all mortal joys!
And, in this unpremeditated slight

Of that which is no longer needed, see
The common course of human gratitude!"

This plaintive note disturbed not the repose Of the still evening. Right across the lake

Through their ethereal texture pierced—ere we,
Who saw, of change were conscious-had become
Vivid as fire; clouds separately poised,-
Innumerable multitude of forms

Scattered through half the circle of the sky;
And giving back, and shedding each on each,
With prodigal communion, the bright hues
Which from the unapparent fount of glory
They had imbibed, and ceased not to receive.
That which the heavens displayed, the liquid deep
Repeated; but with unity sublime!

While from the grassy mountain's open side We gazed, in silence hushed, with eyes intent On the refulgent spectacle, diffused

Our pinnace moves; then, coasting creek and bay, Through earth, sky, water, and all visible space,

Glades we behold, and into thickets peep,

Where couch the spotted deer; or raised our eyes
To shaggy steeps on which the careless goat
Browsed by the side of dashing waterfalls;
And thus the bark, meandering with the shore,
Pursued her voyage, till a natural pier
Of jutting rock invited us to land.

Alert to follow as the Pastor led,

We clomb a green hill's side; and, as we clomb,
The Valley, opening out her bosom, gave
Fair prospect, intercepted less and less,
O'er the flat meadows and indented coast

Of the smooth lake, in compass seen :-far off,
And yet conspicuous, stood the old Church-tower,
In majesty presiding over fields

And habitations seemingly preserved

From all intrusion of the restless world

By rocks impassable and mountains huge.

Soft heath this elevated spot supplied,

And choice of moss-clad stones, whereon we couched
Or sate reclined; admiring quietly
The general aspect of the scene; but each
Not seldom over anxious to make known
His own discoveries; or to favourite points
Directing notice, merely from a wish
To impart a joy, imperfect while unshared.
That rapturous moment never shall I forget
When these particular interests were effaced
From every mind!—Already had the sun,
Sinking with less than ordinary state,
Attained his western bound; but rays of light-
Now suddenly diverging from the orb
Retired behind the mountain tops or veiled
By the dense air-shot upwards to the crown
Of the blue firmament-aloft, and wide:
And multitudes of little floating clouds,

The Priest in holy transport thus exclaimed:

"Eternal Spirit! universal God!

Power inaccessible to human thought,

Save by degrees and steps which thou hast deigned
To furnish; for this effluence of thyself,
To the infirmity of mortal sense
Vouchsafed; this local transitory type
Of thy paternal splendours, and the pomp
Of those who fill thy courts in highest heaven,
The radiant Cherubim ;-accept the thanks
Which we, thy humble Creatures, here convened,
Presume to offer; we, who-from the breast
Of the frail earth, permitted to behold
The faint reflections only of thy face-
Are yet exalted, and in soul adore!
Such as they are who in thy presence stand
Unsullied, incorruptible, and drink
Imperishable majesty streamed forth
From thy empyreal throne, the elect of earth
Shall be divested at the appointed hour
Of all dishonour, cleansed from mortal stain.
-Accomplish, then, their number; and conclude
Time's weary course! Or if, by thy decree,
The consummation that will come by stealth
Be yet far distant, let thy Word prevail,
Oh let thy Word prevail, to take away
The sting of human nature. Spread the law,
As it is written in thy holy book,
Throughout all lands: let every nation hear
The high behest, and every heart obey;
Both for the love of purity, and hope
Which it affords, to such as do thy will
And persevere in good, that they shall rise,
To have a nearer view of thee, in heaven.
-Father of good! this prayer in bounty grant,
In mercy grant it, to thy wretched sons.
Then, nor till then, shall persecution cease,

And cruel wars expire. The way is marked,
The guide appointed, and the ransom paid.
Alas! the nations, who of yore received
These tidings, and in Christian temples meet
The sacred truth to acknowledge, linger still;
Preferring bonds and darkness to a state
Of holy freedom, by redeeming love
Proffered to all, while yet on earth detained.

So fare the many; and the thoughtful few, Who in the anguish of their souls bewail This dire perverseness, cannot choose but ask, Shall it endure?-Shall enmity and strife, Falsehood and guile, be left to sow their seed; And the kind never perish? Is the hope Fallacious, or shall righteousness obtain A peaceable dominion, wide as earth,

And ne'er to fail? Shall that blest day arrive When they, whose choice or lot it is to dwell In crowded cities, without fear shall live Studious of mutual benefit; and he,

Whom Morn awakens, among dews and flowers

Of every clime, to till the lonely field,
Be happy in himself?—The law of faith

Bedimmed with smoke, in wreaths voluminous,
Flung from the body of devouring fires,
To Taranis erected on the heights
By priestly hands, for sacrifice performed
Exultingly, in view of open day

And full assemblage of a barbarous host;
Or to Andates, female Power! who gave
(For so they fancied) glorious victory.
-A few rude monuments of mountain-stone
Survive ; all else is swept away.-How bright
The appearances of things! From such, how

The existing worship; and with those compared,
The worshippers how innocent and blest!
So wide the difference, a willing mind
Might almost think, at this affecting hour,
That paradise, the lost abode of man,
Was raised again: and to a happy few,

In its original beauty, here restored.

Whence but from thee, the true and only God, And from the faith derived through Him who bled Upon the cross, this marvellous advance

Of good from evil; as if one extreme

Working through love, such conquest shall it gain, Were left, the other gained.-O ye, who come

Such triumph over sin and guilt achieve?
Almighty Lord, thy further grace impart !
And with that help the wonder shall be seen
Fulfilled, the hope accomplished; and thy praise
Be sung with transport and unceasing joy.

Once," and with mild demeanour, as he spake, On us the venerable Pastor turned

His beaming eye that had been raised to Heaven,
"Once, while the Name, Jehovah, was a sound
Within the circuit of this sea-girt isle
Unheard, the savage nations bowed the head
To Gods delighting in remorseless deeds;
Gods which themselves had fashioned, to promote
Ill purposes, and flatter foul desires.
Then, in the bosom of yon mountain-cove,
To those inventions of corrupted man
Mysterious rites were solemnised; and there-
Amid impending rocks and gloomy woods—
Of those terrific Idols some received
Such dismal service, that the loudest voice
Of the swoln cataracts (which now are heard
Soft murmuring) was too weak to overcome,
Though aided by wild winds, the groans and shrieks
Of human victims, offered up to appease
Or to propitiate. And, if living eyes
Had visionary faculties to see

The thing that hath been as the thing that is,
Aghast we might behold this crystal Mere

To kneel devoutly in yon reverend Pile,
Called to such office by the peaceful sound
Of sabbath bells; and ye, who sleep in earth,
All cares forgotten, round its hallowed walls!
For you, in presence of this little band
Gathered together on the green hill-side,
Your Pastor is emboldened to prefer
Vocal thanksgivings to the eternal King;
Whose love, whose counsel, whose commands, have

Your very poorest rich in peace of thought
And in good works; and him, who is endowed
With scantiest knowledge, master of all truth
Which the salvation of his soul requires.
Conscious of that abundant favour showered
On you,
the children of my humble care,
And this dear land, our country, while on earth
We sojourn, have I lifted up my soul,
Joy giving voice to fervent gratitude.
These barren rocks, your stern inheritance;
These fertile fields, that recompense your pains;

The shadowy vale, the sunny mountain-top;
Woods waving in the wind their lofty heads,
Or hushed; the roaring waters, and the still-
They see the offering of my lifted hands,
They hear my lips present their sacrifice,
They know if I be silent, morn or even :
For, though in whispers speaking, the full heart
Will find a vent; and thought is praise to him,

[ocr errors]

Audible praise, to thee, omniscient Mind,
From whom all gifts descend, all blessings flow!"

This vesper-service closed, without delay, From that exalted station to the plain Descending, we pursued our homeward course, In mute composure, o'er the shadowy lake, Under a faded sky. No trace remained Of those celestial splendours; grey the vaultPure, cloudless, ether; and the star of eve Was wanting; but inferior lights appeared Faintly, too faint almost for sight; and some Above the darkened hills stood boldly forth In twinkling lustre, ere the boat attained Her mooring-place; where, to the sheltering tree, Our youthful Voyagers bound fast her prow, With prompt yet careful hands. This done, we paced The dewy fields; but ere the Vicar's door Was reached, the Solitary checked his steps; Then, intermingling thanks, on each bestowed A farewell salutation; and, the like Receiving, took the slender path that leads To the one cottage in the lonely dell:

But turned not without welcome promise made
That he would share the pleasures and pursuits
Of yet another summer's day, not loth
To wander with us through the fertile vales,
And o'er the mountain-wastes. "Another sun,"
Said he, "shall shine upon us, ere we part;
Another sun, and peradventure more;
If time, with free consent, be yours to give,
And season favours."

To enfeebled Power, From this communion with uninjured Minds, What renovation had been brought; and what Degree of healing to a wounded spirit, Dejected, and habitually disposed

To seek, in degradation of the Kind,
Excuse and solace for her own defects;
How far those erring notions were reformed;
And whether aught, of tendency as good
And pure, from further intercourse ensued;
This if delightful hopes, as heretofore,
Inspire the serious song, and gentle Hearts
Cherish, and lofty Minds approve the past-
My future labours may not leave untold.

« ZurückWeiter »