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ARGUMENT OF THE SIXTH BOOK.
Bells at a distance. Their effect.-A fine noon
in winter.-A sheltered walk.--Meditation better than books.-Our familiarity with the course of nature makes it appear less wonderful than it is.—The transformation that spring effects in a shrubbery described.-A mistake concerning the course of nature corrected. God maintains it by an unremitted act.—The amusements fashionable at this hour of the day reproved. Animals happy, a delightful sight.- Origin of cruelty to animals. That it is a great crime proved from scripture.—That proof illustrated by a tale.- A line drawn between the lawful and unlawful destruction of them.-Their good and useful properties insisted on.—Apology for the encomiums bestowed by the author on uni. mals.- Instances of man's extravagant praise of man. - The groans of the creation shall have an end--A view taken of the restoration of all things.--An invocation and an invitation of him who shall bring it to pass.—The retired man vindicated from the charge of uselessness-Con. elusion.
HERE is in souls a sympathy with sounds;
And, as the mind is pitch'd, the ear is pleas'
With melting airs, or martial, brisk, or grave :
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies.
How sost the music of those village bells,
Falling at intervals upon the ear
In cadence sweet, now dying all away,
Now pealing loud again, and louder stiil,
Clear and sonorous, as the gale comes on!
With easy force it opens all the cells
Where memory slept. Wherever I have heard
A kindred melody, the scene recurs,
And with it all its pleasures and its pains.
Such comprehensive views the spirit takes,
That in a few short moments I retrace
(As in a map the voyager his course)
The windings of my way through many years.
Short as in retrospect the journey seems,
It seem'd not always short; the rugged path
And prospect oft so dreary and forlorn,
Mov'd many a sigh at its disheartening length,
Yet, feeling present evils, while the past
Faintly impress the mind, or not at ail,
How readily we wish time spent revok'd,
That we might try the ground again, where once
(Through inexperience, as we now perceive)
We miss'd that happiness we might have fund !
Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best friend !
A father, whose authority, in show
When most severe, and mustering all its force,
Was but the graver countenance of love ;
Whose favour, like the clouds of spring, might lower,
And utter now and then an awful voice,
But had a blessing in its darkest frown,
Threatening at once and nourishing the plant.
We lov’d, but not enough, the gentle hand
That rear'd us. At a thoughtless age, allur'd
By every gilded folly, we renounc'd
His sheltering side, and wiifully forewent
That converse which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected sire! a mother too,
That softer friend, perhaps more gladly still,
Might he demand thein at the gates of death.
Sorrow has, since they went, subdu'd and tan'd
The playful humour ; he could now endure,
(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears)
And feel a parent's presence no restraint.
But not to understand a treasure's worth
Till time has stolen away the slighted good,
Is cause of half the poverty we feel,
And makes the world the wilderness it is.
The few that pray at all oft pray amiss,
And, seeking grace to improve the prize they hold,
Would urge a wiser suit than asking more.
The night was winter in his roughest mood;
The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon
Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendor of the scene below.
Again the harmony comes o'er the vale ;
And through the trees I view the embattled tower
Whence all the music. I again perceive
The soothing influence of the wafted strains,
And settle in soft musings as I tread
The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms,
Whose outspread branches overarch the glade.
The roof, though moveable through all its length
As the wind sways it, has yet well sufüc'd,
And, intercepting in their silent fall
The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The reobreast warbles still, but is content
With slender notes, and more than half suppress'd :
Pleas'd with his solitude, and litting light
From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendant drops of ice,
That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below.
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft,
Charms more than silence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart,
May give an usesul lesson to the head,
And learning wiser grow without his books.
Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
Have oft-times no.connexion. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men;
Wisdom in minds atientive to their own.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which wisdom buiids,
Till smooth'd and squar'd and fitted to its place,
Does but incumber whom it seems to enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much ;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells,
By which the magic art of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthrall'd.
Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgment, hood-wink'd. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds
Of error leads them by a tune entranc'd.
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear
The insupportable fatigue of thought,
And swallowing, therefore, without pause or choice,
The total grist unsifted, husks and all,
But trees, and rivulets whose rapid course
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer,
And sheep-walks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes in which the primrose ere her time
Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn root,
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and truth,
Not shy, as in the world, and to be won
By slow solicitation, seize at once
The roving thought, and fix it on themselves.
What prodigies can power divine perform More grand than it produces year by year,
And all in sight of inattentive man?
Familiar with the effect we slight the cause,
And, in the constancy of nature's course,
The regular relurn of genial months,
And renovation of a faded world,
See nought to wonder at. Should God again,
As once in Gibeon, interrupt the race
Of the undeviating and punctual sun,
How would the world admire ! but speaks it less
An agency divine, to make him know
His moment when to sink and when to rise,
Age after age, then to arrest his course ?
All we behold is miracle ; but, seen
So duly, all is miracle in vain.
Where now the vital energy that niov'd,
While summer was, the pure and subtile lymph
Through the imperceptible meandring veins
Of leaf and flower ? It sleeps ; and the icy touch
Of unprolific winter has impress’d
A cold stagnation on the intestine tide.
But let the months go round, a few short months,
And all shall be restor'd. These naked shoots,
Barren as lances, among which the wind
Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes,
Shall put their graceful foliage on again,
And, more aspiring, and with ampler spread,
Shall boast new charms, and more than they have lost
Than, each in its peculiar honours clad,
Shall publish, even to the distant eye,
Its family and tribe. Laburnum, rich
In streaming gold; syringa, ivory pure ;
The scentless and the scented rose; this red
And of an humbler growth, the * other tall,
And throwing up into the darkest gloom
Of neighboring cypress, or more sable yew,
Her silver globes, light as the foainy surf
That the wind severs from the broken wave;
The lilac, various in array, now while,
Now sanguine, and her beautecus head now set
With purple spikes pyramidal, as if,
Studious of ornamient, yet unresolv'd
Which hue she most approv'd, slie chose them all;
Copious of flow'rs the woodbine, pale and wan,
But well compensating her sichly looks
With never-cloying odours, early and late;