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Back to my mind rushed all that had been urged Made the eye blind, and closed the passages
Has not the soul, the being of your life,
Received a shock of awful consciousness,
In some calm season, when these lofty rocks
“As men from men At night's approach bring down the unclouded sky, Do, in the constitution of their souls,
To rest upon their circumambient walls;
A temple framing of dimensions vast,
And yet not too enormous for the sound
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
Impulse and utterance. The whispering air
And blind recesses of the caverned roeks;
Athwart the concave of the dark blue dome,
Unseen, perchance above all power of sight-
An iron knell ! with echoes from afar
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 !
With sparing hand. Then trust yourself abroad
To range her blooming bowers, and spacious fields,
She smiles, including in her wide embrace
City, and town, and tower,--and sea with ships
While, free as air, o'er printless sands we march,
In peace and meditative cheerfulness;
With inarticulate language.
Of order and distinctness, not for this
For, the Man-- Shall it forget that its most noble use,
In furnishing clear guidance, a support
-So build we up the Being that we are ;
We shall be wise perforce; and, while inspired So deeply, that, unsatisfied with aught
By choice, and conscious that the Will is free, Less pure and exquisite, he cannot choose
Shall move unswerving, even as if impelled But seek for objects of a kindred love
By strict necessity, along the path In fellow-natures and a kindred joy.
Of order and of good. Whate'er we see, Accordingly he by degrees perceives
Or feel, shall tend to quicken and refine; His feelings of aversion softened down;
Shall fix, in calmer seats of moral strength, A holy tenderness pervade his frame.
Earthly desires ; and raise, to loftier heights
Of divine love, our intellectual soul.”
Such as, remote, mid savage wilderness,
An Indian Chief discharges from his breast
As the unbreathing air, when not a leaf
Stirs in the mighty woods. -So did he speak:
Dispersed, like music that the wind takes up
No--they sank into me, the bounteous gift
Of one whom time and nature had made wise,
Of one accustomed to desires that feed
On fruitage gathered from the tree of life;
Had ripened into faith, and faith become
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,
To us who stood low in that hollow dell,
Leaving behind of yellow radiance spread
Over the mountain sides, in contrast bold Shall be a precious visitant; and then,
With ample shadows, seemingly, no less
Than those resplendent lights, his rich bequest ;
-Adown the path that from the glen had led
The funeral train, the Shepherd and his Mate But taught with patient interest to watch
Were seen descending:-forth to greet them ran The processes of things, and serve the cause Our little Page: the rustic pair approach ;
And in the Matron's countenance may be read
Of the small Cottage in the lonely Dell
ARGUMENT. Farewell to the Valley-Reflections, A large and populous
Vale described–The Pastor's Dwelling, and some account of him-Church and Monuments-The Solitary musing, and where-Roused-In the Churchyard the Solitary communicates the thoughts which had recently passed through his mind-Lofty tone of the Wanderer's discourse of yesterday adverted to-Rite of Baptism, and the professions accompanying it, contrasted with the real state of human life-Apology for the Rite-Inconsistency of the best men-Acknowledgment that practice falls far below the injunctions of duty as existing in the mind-General complaint of a falling-off in the value of life after the time of youth -Outward appearances of content and happiness in degree illusive-Pastor approaches Appeal made to him-His answer~Wanderer in sympathy with himSuggestion that the least ambitious enquirers may be most free from error-The Pastor is desired to give some portraits of the living or dead from his own observa. tion of life among these Mountains—and for what purpose-Pastor consents-- Mountain cottage-Excellent qualities of its Inhabitants-Solitary expresses his pleasure; but denies the praise of virtue to worth of this kind-Feelings of the Priest before he enters upon his account of persons interred in the ChurchyardGraves of unbaptized Infants-Funeral and sepulchral observances, whence-Ecclesiastical Establishments, whence derived—Profession of belief in the doctrine of Immortality.
Of that brown ridge, sole outlet of the vale
might, if so minded, turn aside
“ FAREWELL, deep Valley, with thy one rude
House, And its small lot of life-supporting fields, And guardian rocks !--Farewell, attractive seat ! To the still influx of the morning light Open, and day's pure cheerfulness, but veiled From human observation, as if yet Primeval forests wrapped thee round with dark Impenetrable shade; once more farewell, Majestic circuit, beautiful abyss, By Nature destined from the birth of things For quietness profound !”
Upon the side
Acknowledgments of gratitude sincere Accompanied these musings; fervent thanks
For my own peaceful lot and happy choice; The shepherd of his flock ; or, as a king
The father of his people. Such is he;
And rich and poor, and young and old, rejoice Secluded, but not buried; and with song
Under his spiritual sway. He hath vouclisafed Cheering my days, and with industrious thought; To me some portion of a kind regard; With the ever-welcome company of books ; And something also of his inner mind With virtuous friendship’s soul-sustaining aid, Hath he imparted—but I speak of him And with the blessings of domestic love.
As he is known to all.
The calm delights
Of unambitious piety he chose,
Of knightly race, nor wanting powerful friends. My two Associates, in the morning sunshine Hither, in prime of manhood, he withdrew Halting together on a rocky knoll,
From academic bowers. He loved the spotWhence the bare road descended rapidly
Who does not love his native soil !he prized To the green meadows of another vale.
The ancient rural character, composed
Of simple manners, feelings unsupprest Here did our pensive Host put forth his hand And undisguised, and strong and serious thought; In sign of farewell. “Nay,” the old Man said, A character reflected in himself, “ The fragrant air its coolness still retains; With such embellishment as well beseems The herds and flocks are yet abroad to crop His rank and sacred function. This deep vale The dewy grass ; you cannot leave us now,
Winds far in reaches hidden from our sight, We must not part at this inviting hour."
And one a turreted manorial hall
Have dwelt through ages-Patrons of this Cure. To his own covert; as a billow, heaved
To them, and to his own judicious pains, Upon the beach, rolls back into the sea.
The Vicar's dwelling, and the whole domain, -So we descend: and winding round a rock Owes that presiding aspect which might well Attain a point that showed the valley-stretched Attract your notice ; statelier than could else In length before us; and, not distant far,
Have been bestowed, through course of common Upon a rising ground a grey church-tower,
chance, Whose battlements were screened by tufted trees. On an unwealthy mountain Benefice.” And towards a crystal Mere, that lay beyond Among steep hills and woods embosomed, flowed This said, oft pausing, we pursued our way ; A copious stream with boldly-winding course; Nor reached the village-churchyard till the sun Here traceable, there hidden—there again
Travelling at steadier pace than ours, had risen To sight restored, and glittering in the sun. Above the summits of the highest hills, On the stream's bank, and every where, appeared And round our path darted oppressive beams. Fair dwellings, single, or in social knots; Some scattered o'er the level, others perched As chanced, the portals of the sacred Pile On the hill sides, a cheerful quiet scene,
Stood open ; and we entered. On my frame, Now in its morning purity arrayed.
At such transition from the fervid air,
A grateful coolness fell, that seemed to strike “ As 'mid some happy valley of the Alps," The heart, in concert with that temperate awe Said I, “once happy, ere tyrannic power,
And natural reverence which the place inspired. Wantonly breaking in upon the Swiss,
Not raised in nice proportions was the pile,
With pillars crowded, and the roof upheld
crossed, A rural lord might dwell.”—“ No feudal pomp, Like leafless underboughs, in some thick wood, Or power,” replied the Wanderer, “ to that House All withered by the depth of shade above. Belongs, but there in his allotted Home
Admonitory texts inscribed the walls, Abides, from year to year, a genuine Priest, Each, in its ornamental scroll, enclosed;
Each also crowned with winged heads-a pair
In modest panegyric.
“ These dim lines, What would they tell ?" said I,—but, from the task Of puzzling out that faded narrative, With whisper soft my venerable Friend Called me; and, looking down the darksome aisle, I saw the Tenant of the lonely vale Standing apart; with curvèd arm reclined On the baptismal font; his pallid face Upturned, as if his mind were rapt, or lost In some abstraction ;-gracefully he stood, The semblance bearing of a sculptured form That leans upon a monumental urn In peace, from morn to night, from year to year.
The tribute by these various records claimed, Duly we paid, each after each, and read The ordinary chronicle of birth, Office, alliance, and promotion-all Ending in dust; of upright magistrates, Grave doctors strenuous for the mother-church, And uncorrupted senators, alike To king and people true. A brazen plate, Not easily deciphered, told of one Whose course of earthly honour was begun In quality of page among the train Of the eighth Henry, when he crossed the seas His royal state to show, and prove his strength In tournament, upon the fields of France. Another tablet registered the death, And praised the gallant bearing, of a Knight Tried in the sea-fights of the second Charles. Near this brave Knight his Father lay entombed ; And, to the silent language giving voice, I read,-how in his manhood's earlier day He, 'mid the afflictions of intestine war And rightful government subverted, found One only solace-that he had espoused A virtuous Lady tenderly beloved For her benign perfections; and yet more Endeared to him, for this, that, in her state Of wedlock richly crowned with Heaven's regard, She with a numerous issue filled his house, Who throve, like plants, uninjured by the storm That laid their country waste. No need to speak Of less particular notices assigned To Youth or Maiden gone before their time, And Matrons and unwedded Sisters old ; Whose charity and goodness were rehearsed
Him from that posture did the Sexton rouse ; Who entered, humming carelessly a tune, Continuation haply of the notes That had beguiled the work from which he came, With spade and mattock o'er his shoulder hung; To be deposited, for future need, In their appointed place. The pale Recluse Withdrew; and straight we followed,—to a spot Where sun and shade were intermixed; for there A broad oak, stretching forth its leafy arms From an adjoining pasture, overhung Small space of that green churchyard with a light And pleasant awning. On the moss-grown wall My ancient Friend and I together took Our seats; and thus the Solitary spake, Standing before us :
“ Did you note the mien Of that self-solaced, easy-hearted churl, Death’s hireling, who scoops out his neighbour's
grave, Or wraps an old acquaintance up in clay, All unconcerned as he would bind a sheaf, Or plant a tree. And did you hear his voice! I was abruptly summoned by the sound From some affecting images and thoughts, Which then were silent; but crave utterance now.
Much,” he continued, with dejected look, “Much, yesterday, was said in glowing phrase Of our sublime dependencies, and hopes For future states of being; and the wings Of speculation, joyfully outspread, Hovered above our destiny on earth : But stoop, and place the prospect of the soul In sober contrast with reality, And man's substantial life. If this mute earth Of what it holds could speak, and every grave Were as a volume, shut, yet capable Of yielding its contents to eye