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But, to remote Northumbria's royal Hall,
Where thoughtful Edwin, tutored in the school
Of sorrow, still maintains a heathen rule,
Who comes with functions apostolical ?
Mark him, of shoulders curved, and stature tall,
Black hair, and vivid eye, and meagre cheek,
His prominent feature like an eagle's beak ;
A Man whose aspect doth at once appal
And strike with reverence. The Monarch leans
Toward the pure truths this Delegate propounds,
Repeatedly his own deep mind he sounds
With careful hesitation,-then convenes
A synod of his Councillors :-give ear,
And what a pensive Sage doth utter, hear !
Nor scorn the aid which Fancy oft doth lend
The Soul's eternal interests to promote:
Death, darkness, danger, are our natural lot ;
And evil Spirits may our walk attend
For aught the wisest know or comprehend;
Then be good Spirits free to breathe a note
Of elevation; let their odours float
Around these Converts ; and their glories blend,
The midnight stars outshining, or the blaze
Of the noon-day. Nor doubt that golden cords
Of good works, mingling with the visions, raise
The Soul to purer worlds : and who the line
Shall draw, the limits of the power define,
That even imperfect faith to man affords?
PERSUASION. “ Man's life is like a Sparrow, mighty King ! How beautiful your presence, how benign, “ That—while at banquet with your Chiefs you sit Servants of God! who not a thought will share “ Housed near a blazing fire—is seen to flit With the vain world; who, outwardly as bare “ Safe from the wintry tempest. Fluttering, As winter trees, yield no fallacious sign “ Here did it enter ; there, on hasty wing,
That the firm soul is clothed with fruit divine ! “ Flies out, and passes on from cold to cold ; Such Priest, when service worthy of his care “ But whence it came we know not, nor behold Has called him forth to breathe the common air, “ Whither it goes. Even such, that transient Thing, Might seem a saintly Image from its shrine “ The human Soul ; not utterly unknown
Descended :-happy are the eyes that meet “ While in the Body lodged, her warm abode ; The Apparition ; evil thoughts are stayed “ But from what world She came, what woe or weal At his approach, and low-bowed necks entreat “On her departure waits, no tongue hath shown ; A benediction from his voice or hand; “ This mystery if the Stranger can reveal, Whence grace, through which the heart can “ His be a welcome cordially bestowed +!”
understand, And vows, that bind the will, in silence made.
Prompt transformation works the novel Lore;
The Council closed, the Priest in full career
Rides forth, an armed man, and hurls a spear
To desecrate the Fane which heretofore
He served in folly. Woden falls, and Thor
Is overturned; the mace, in battle heaved
(So might they dream) till victory was achieved,
Drops, and the God himself is seen no more.
Temple and Altar sink, to hide their shame
Amid oblivious weeds. "O come to me,
Ye heavy laden l' such the inviting voice
Heard near fresh streams I; and thousands, who
In the new Rite—the pledge of sanctity,
Shall, by regenerate life, the promise claim.
Ah, when the Body, round which in love we clung,
Is chilled by death, does mutual service fail ?
Is tender pity then of no avail ?
Are intercessions of the fervent tongue
A waste of hope ?–From this sad source have
Rites that console the Spirit, under grief (sprung
Which ill can brook more rational relief:
Hence, prayers are shaped amiss, and dirges sung
For Souls whose doom is fixed! The way is smooth
For Power that travels with the human heart:
Confession ministers the pang to soothe
In him who at the ghost of guilt doth start.
Ye holy Men, so earnest in your care,
Of your own mighty instruments beware!
SAXON MONASTERIES, AND LIGHTS AND SHADES OF
LANCE, shield, and sword relinquished-at his side
A bead-roll, in his hand a clasped book,
By such examples moved to unbought pains, Or staff more harmless than a shepherd's crook,
The people work like congregated bees;
The war-worn Chieftain quits the world—to hide Eager to build the quiet Fortresses
His thin autumnal locks where Monks abide Where Piety, as they believe, obtains
In cloistered privacy. But not to dwell
From Heaven a general blessing ; timely rains In soft repose he comes. Within his cell,
Or needful sunshine; prosperous enterprise, Round the decaying trunk of human pride,
Justice and peace :—bold faith! yet also rise At morn, and eve, and midnight's silent hour, The sacred Structures for less doubtful gains. Do penitential cogitations cling;
The Sensual think with reverence of the palms Like ivy, round some ancient elm, they twine
Which the chaste Votaries seek, beyond the grave; In grisly folds and strictures serpentine ;
If penance be redeemable, thence alms
Yet, while they strangle, a fair growth they bring, Flow to the poor, and freedom to the slave;
For recompence—their own perennial bower.
And if full oft the Sanctuary save
Lives black with guilt, ferocity it calms.
METHINKS that to some vacant hermitage
My feet would rather turn--to some dry nook
Scooped out of living rock, and near a brook
Hurled down a mountain-cove from stage to stage,
Yet tempering, for my sight, its bustling rage
In the soft heaven of a translucent pool;
Thence creeping under sylvan arches cool,
Fit haunt of shapes whose glorious equipage
Would elevate my dreams. A beechen bowl,
A maple dish, my furniture should be ;
Crisp, yellow leaves my bed; the hooting owl
My night-watch: nor should e'er the crested fowl
From thorp or vill his matins sound for me,
Tired of the world and all its industry.
Not sedentary all: there are who roam
To scatter seeds of life on barbarous shores;
Or quit with zealous step their knee-worn floors
To seek the general mart of Christendom;
Whence they, like richly-laden merchants, come
To their beloved cells :-or shall we say
That, like the Red-cross Knight, they urge their way,
To lead in memorable triumph home
Truth, their immortal Una? Babylon,
Learned and wise, hath perished utterly,
Nor leaves her Speech one word to aid the sigh
That would lament her;-Memphis, Tyre, are gone
With all their Arts,-but classic lore glides on
By these Religious saved for all posterity,
But what if One, through grove or flowery mead,
Indulging thus at will the creeping feet
Of a voluptuous indolence, should meet
Thy hovering Shade, O venerable Bede!
The saint, the scholar, from a circle freed
Of toil stupendous, in a hallowed seat
Of learning, where thou heard'st the billows beat
On a wild coast, rough monitors to feed
Perpetual industry. Sublime Recluse !
The recreant soul, that dares to shun the debt
Imposed on human kind, must first forget
Thy diligence, thy unrelaxing use
Of a long life ; and, in the hour of death,
The last dear service of thy passing breath * !
Behold a pupil of the monkish gown,
The pious ALFRED, King to Justice dear!
Lord of the harp and liberating spear;
Mirror of Princes ! Indigent Renown
Might range the starry ether for a crown
Equal to his deserts, who, like the year,
Pours forth his bounty, like the day doth cheer,
And awes like night with mercy-tempered frown.
Ease from this noble miser of his time
No moment steals; pain narrows not his cares.
Though small his kingdom as a spark or gem,
Of Alfred boasts remote Jerusalem,
And Christian India, through her wide-spread clime,
In sacred converse gifts with Alfred shares.
* He expired dictating the last words of a translation of St. John's Gospel.
When thy great soul was freed from mortal chains, A PLEASANT music floats along the Mere,
Darling of England ! many a bitter shower From Monks in Ely chanting service high,
Fell on thy tomb; but emulative power
While-as Canùte the King is rowing by: [near,
Flowed in thy line through undegenerate veins. “My Oarsmen," quoth the mighty King, “ draw
The Race of Alfred covet glorious pains
“ That we the sweet song of the Monks may hear !"
When dangers threaten, dangers ever new! He listens (all past conquests and all schemes
Black tempests bursting, blacker still in view! Of future vanishing like empty dreams)
But manly sovereignty its hold retains ;
Heart-touched, and haply not without a tear.
The root sincere, the branches bold to strive The Royal Minstrel, ere the choir is still,
With the fierce tempest, while, within the round While his free Barge skims the smooth flood along,
Of their protection, gentle virtues thrive;
Gives to that rapture an accordant Rhyme.
As oft, ʼmid some green plot of open ground, O suffering Earth! be thankful ; sternest clime
Wide as the oak extends its dewy gloom,
And rudest age are subject to the thrill
The fostered hyacinths spread their purple bloom. Of heaven-descended Piety and Song.
Urged by Ambition, who with subtlest skill
Changes her means, the Enthusiast as a dupe
and as a hypocrite can stoop,
And turn the instruments of good to ill,
Moulding the credulous people to his will.
Such DUNSTAN:-from its Benedictine coop
Issues the master Mind, at whose fell swoop
The chaste affections tremble to fulfil
Their purposes. Behold, pre-signified,
The Might of spiritual sway! his thoughts, his
Do in the supernatural world abide :
So vaunt a throng of Followers, filled with pride
In what they see of virtues pushed to extremes,
And sorceries of talent misapplied.
THE NORMAN CONQUEST.
The woman-hearted Confessor prepares
The evanescence of the Saxon line.
Hark ! 'tis the tolling Curfew the stars shine ;
But of the lights that cherish household cares
And festive gladness, burns not one that dares
To twinkle after that dull stroke of thine,
Emblem and instrument, from Thames to Tyne,
Of force that daunts, and cunning that ensnares !
Yet as the terrors of the lordly bell,
That quench, from hut to palace, lamps and fires,
Touch not the tapers of the sacred quires;
Even so a thraldom, studious to expel
Old laws, and ancient customs to derange,
To Creed or Ritual brings no fatal change.
Coldly we spake. The Saxons, overpowered DANISH CONQUESTS.
By wrong triumphant through its own excess, Woe to the Crown that doth the Cowl obey*! From fields laid waste, from house and home Dissension, checking arms that would restrain
devoured The incessant Rovers of the northern main, By flames, look up to heaven and crave redress Helps to restore and spread a Pagan sway: From God's eternal justice. Pitiless But Gospel-truth is potent to allay
Though men be, there are angels that can feel Fierceness and rage ; and soon the cruel Dane
For wounds that death alone has power to heal, Feels, through the influence of her gentle reign, For penitent guilt, and innocent distress. His native superstitions melt away.
And has a Champion risen in arms to try Thus, often, when thick gloom the east o'ershrouds, His Country's virtue, fought, and breathes no more; The full-orbed Moon, slow-climbing, doth appear Him in their hearts the people canonize ; Silently to consume the heavy clouds ;
And far above the mine's most precious ore How no one can resolve; but every eye
The least small pittance of bare mould they prize Around her sees, while air is hushed, a clear Scooped from the sacred earth where his dear relics And widening circuit of ethereal sky.
“ And shall,” the Pontiff asks,“ profaneness flow Realms quake by turns : proud Arbitress of grace, “ From Nazareth-source of Christian piety,
The Church, by mandate shadowing forth the “ From Bethlehem, from the Mounts of Agony
power “ And glorified Ascension ? Warriors, go,
She arrogates o'er heaven's eternal door, “ With prayers and blessings we your path will sow; Closes the gates of every sacred place. “ Like Moses hold our hands erect, till ye
Straight from the sun and tainted air's embrace “ Have chased far off by righteous victory
All sacred things are covered : cheerful morn “ These sons of Amalek, or laid them low !”
Grows sad as night—no seemly garb is worn, “GOD WILLETI IT,” the whole assembly cry ;
Nor is a face allowed to meet a face Shout which the enraptured multitude astounds !
With natural smiles of greeting. Bells are dumb; The Council-roof and Clermont's towers reply ;
Ditches are graves—funereal rites denied ; “God willeth it,” from hill to hill rebounds,
And in the church-yard he must take his bride And, in awe-stricken Countries far and nigh,
Who dares be wedded ! Fancies thickly come Through Nature's hollow arch' that voice
Into the pensive heart ill fortified, resounds *.
And comfortless despairs the soul benumb.
The turbaned Race are poured in thickening swarms
Along the west ; though driven from Aquitaine,
The Crescent glitters on the towers of Spain;
And soft Italia feels renewed alarms ;
The scimitar, that yields not to the charms
Of ease, the narrow Bosphorus will disdain ;
Nor long (that crossed) would Grecian hills detain
Their tents, and check the current of their arms.
Then blame not those who, by the mightiest lever
Known to the moral world, Imagination,
Upheave, so seems it, from her natural station
All Christendom :—they sweep along (was never
So huge a host !)—to tear from the Unbeliever
The precious Tomb, their haven of salvation.
As with the Stream our voyage we pursue,
The gross materials of this world present
A marvellous study of wild accident;
Uncouth proximities of old and new;
And bold transfigurations, more untrue
(As might be deemed) to disciplined intent
Than aught the sky's fantastic element,
When most fantastic, offers to the view.
Saw we not Henry scourged at Becket's shrine ?
Lo! John self-stripped of his insignia :-crown,
Sceptre and mantle, sword and ring, laid down
At a proud Legate's feet! The spears that line
Baronial halls, the opprobrious insult feel;
And angry Ocean roars a vain appeal.
REDOUBTED King, of courage leonine,
I mark thee, Richard ! urgent to equip
Thy warlike person with the staff and scrip;
I watch thee sailing o'er the midland brine ;
In conquered Cyprus see thy Bride decline
Her blushing cheek, love-vows upon her lip,
And see love-emblems streaming from thy ship,
As thence she holds her way to Palestine.
My Song, a fearless homager, would attend
Thy thundering battle-axe as it cleaves the press
Of war, but duty summons her away
To tell-how, finding in the rash distress
Of those Enthusiasts a subservient friend,
To giddier heights hath clomb the Papal sway.
SCENE IN VENICE.
Black Demons hovering o'er his mitred head,
To Cæsar's Successor the Pontiff spake;
“ Ere I absolve thee, stoop! that on thy neck
“ Levelled with earth this foot of mine may tread.”
Then he, who to the altar had been led,
He, whose strong arm the Orient could not check,
He, who had held the Soldan at his beck,
Stooped, of all glory disinherited,
And even the common dignity of man !--
Amazement strikes the crowd : while many turn
Their eyes away in sorrow, others burn
With scorn, invoking a vindictive ban
From outraged Nature; but the sense of most
In abject sympathy with power is lost.
UNLESS to Peter's Chair the viewless wind
Must come and ask permission when to blow, “Here Man more purely lives, less oft doth fall,
What further empire would it have! for now « More promptly rises, walks with stricter heed,
A ghostly Domination, unconfined
“More safely rests, dies happier, is freed
As that by dreaming Bards to Love assigned, “Earlier from cleansing fires, and gains withal
Sits there in sober truth—to raise the low, “A brighter crown.”-On yon Cistertian wall
Perplex the wise, the strong to overthrow;
That confident assurance may be read;
Through earth and heaven to bind and to unbind !- And, to like shelter, from the world have fled
Resist—the thunder quails thee !--crouch-rebuff Increasing multitudes. The potent call
Shall be thy recompence! from land to land Doubtless shall cheat full oft the heart's desires;
The ancient thrones of Christendom are stuff Yet, while the rugged Age on pliant knee
For occupation of a magic wand,
Vows to rapt Fancy humble fealty,
And 'tis the Pope that wields it:—whether rough A gentler life spreads round the holy spires;
Or smooth his front, our world is in his hand !
Where'er they rise, the sylvan waste retires,
And aëry harvests crown the fertile lea.
TO THE CLOSE OF THE TROUBLES IN THE REIGN OF
DEPLORABLE his lot who tills the ground,
His whole life long tills it, with heartless toil
Of villain-service, passing with the soil
To each new Master, like a steer or hound,
How soon-alas ! did Man, created pure-
Or like a rooted tree, or stone earth-bound;
By Angels guarded, deviate from the line
But mark how gladly, through their own domains,
Prescribed to duty :-woeful forfeiture
The Monks relax or break these iron chains;
He made by wilful breach of law divine.
While Mercy, uttering, through their voice, a sound
With like perverseness did the Church abjure
Echoed in Heaven, cries out, “ Ye Chiefs, abate
Obedience to her Lord, and haste to twine,
These legalized oppressions ! Man-whose name
Mid Heaven-born flowers that shall for aye endure, and nature God disdained not; Man—whose soul
Weeds on whose front the world had fixed her sign. Christ died for cannot forfeit his high claim
O Man,-if with thy trials thus it fares,
To live and move exempt from all controul
If good can smooth the way to evil choice,
Which fellow-feeling doth not mitigate!"
From all rash censure be the mind kept free;
He only judges right who weighs, compares,
And, in the sternest sentence which his voice
Pronounces, ne'er abandons Charity.
RECORD we too, with just and faithful pen,
That many hooded Cenobites there are,
From false assumption rose, and fondly hail'd
Who in their private cells have yet a care
By superstition, spread the Papal power;
Of public quiet; unambitious Men,
Yet do not deem the Autocracy prevail'd
Counsellors for the world, of piercing ken;
Thus only, even in error's darkest hour. [tower Whose fervent exhortations from afar
She daunts, forth-thundering from her spiritual Move Princes to their duty, peace or war;
Brute rapine, or with gentle lure she tames.
And oft-times in the most forbidding den
Justice and Peace through Her uphold their claims; Of solitude, with love of science strong,
And Chastity finds many a sheltering bower.
How patiently the yoke of thought they bear!
Realm there is none that if contrould or sway'd
How subtly glide its finest threads along !
By her commands partakes not, in degree,
Spirits that crowd the intellectual sphere
Of good, o'er manners arts and arms, diffused:
With mazy boundaries, as the astronomer
Yes, to thy domination, Roman See,
With orb and cycle girds the starry throng.
Tho' miserably, oft monstrously, abused
By blind ambition, be this tribute paid.