Imágenes de páginas

His scorn'd, or unacknowledged sovereignty.
And when the One, ineffable of name,
Of nature indivisible, withdrew
From mortal adoration or regard,
Not then was deity ingulf'd, 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;
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-wreath'd 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:
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, uprear'd
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-stretch'd,
With grove,
and field, and garden, interspersed ;
Their town, and foodful region for support
Against the pressure of beleaguring war.
"Chaldean shepherds, ranging trackless fields,
Beneath the concave of unclouded skies
Spread like a sea, in boundless solitude,
Look'd on the polar star, as on a guide
And guardian of their course, that never closed
His steadfast eye. The planetary five
With a submissive reverence they beheld:
Watch'd, from the centre of their sleeping flocks
Those radiant Mercuries, that seem 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 reveal'd.
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,
Between the orbs of our apparent sphere
And its invisible counterpart, adorn'd
With answering constellations, under earth,
Removed from all approach of living sight,
But present to the dead; who, so they deem'd,
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 variegated sky,
Could find commodious place for every god,
Promptly received, as prodigally brought,
From the surrounding countries-at the choice
Of all adventurers. With unrivall❜d skill,
As nicest observation furnish'd hints
For studious fancy, did his hand bestow
On fluent operations a fix'd shape;

Metal or stone, idolatrously served,

And yet triumphant o'er this pompous show
Of art, this palpable array of sense,
On every side encounter'd; 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
As bonds, on grave philosopher imposed
And armed warrior; and in every grove
A gay or pensive tenderness prevail'd,
When piety more awful had relax'd.

Take, running river, take these locks of mine'-
Thus would the votary say this sever'd 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
With which thou dost refresh the thirsty lip,
And moisten all day long these flowery fields !'
And doubtless, sometimes, when the hair was shed
Upon the flowing stream, a thought arose
Of life continuous, being unimpair'd:
That hath been, is, and where it was and is
There shall endure,-existence unexposed
To the blind walk of mortal accident;
From dimunitions safe and weakening age;
While man grows old, and dwindles, and decays;
And countless generations of mankind
Depart; and leave no vestige where they trod.
"We live by admiration, hope, and love;
And, e'en as these are well and wisely fix'd,
In dignity of being we ascend.
But what is error ?"-" Answer he who can !"
The skeptic somewhat haughtily exclaim'd:
"Love, hope, and admiration-are they not
Mad fancy's favourite vassals? Does not life
Use them, full oft, as pioneers to ruin,
Guides to destruction? Is it well to trust
Imagination's light when reason's fails,
Th' 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
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 learn'd
In smoky cabins, from a mother's tongue-
Heard while the dwelling vibrates to the din
Of the contiguous torrent, gathering strength

At every moment, and, with strength, increase The nightly hunter, lifting up his eyes
Of fury; or, while snow is at the door,

Towards the crescent moon, with grateful heart Assaulting and defending, and the wind,

Call’d on the lovely wanderer who bestow'd A sightless labourer, whistles at his work

That timely light, to share his joyous sport: Fearful, but resignation tempers fear,

And hence, a beaming goddess with her nymphs, And piety is sweet to infant minds.

Across the lawn and through the darksome grove The shepherd lad, who in the sunshine carves, (Not unaccompanied with tuneful notes On the green turf, a dial, to divide

By echo multiplied from rock or cave) The silent hours; and who to that report

Swept in the storm of chase, as moon and stars Can portion out his pleasures, and adapt

Glance rapidly along the clouded heaven, His round of pastoral duties, is not left

When winds are blowing strong. The traveller With less intelligence for moral things

slaked Of gravest import. Early he perceives,

His thirst from rill or gushing fount, and thank'd Within himself, a measure and a rule,

The naiad. Sunbeams, upon distant hills Which to the sun of truth he can apply,

Gliding apace, with shadows in their train, That shines for him, and shines for all mankind. Might, with small help from fancy, be transform'd Experience daily fixing his regards

Into fleet oreads sporting visibly. On nature's wants, he knows how few they are, The zephyrs, fanning as they pass’d, their wings, And where they lie, how answer'd and appeased. Lack'd not, for love, fair objects whom they woo'd This knowledge ample recompense affords

With gentle whisper. Wither'd boughs grotesque, For manifold privations; he refers

Stripp'd of their leaves and twigs by hoary age, His notions to this standard, on this rock

From depth of shaggy covert peeping forth Rests his desires; and hence, in after life,

In the low vale, or on steep mountain side ; Soul-strengthening patience, and sublime content. And, sometimes, intermix'd with stirring horns Imagination not permitted here

Of the live deer, or goat's depending beardTo waste her powers, as in the worldling's mind, These were the lurking satyrs, a wild brood On fickle pleasures, and superfluous cares

Of gamesome deities; or Pan himself, And trivial ostentation—is left free

The simple shepherd's awe-inspiring god!” And puissant to range the solemn walks

As this apt strain proceeded, I could mark Of time and nature, girded by a zone

Its kindly influence, o'er the yielding brow That, while it binds, in vigorates and supports. Of our companion, gradually diffused Acknowledge, then, that whether by the side While, listening he had paced the noiseless turf, Of luis poor hut, or on the mountain top,

Like one whose untired ear a murmuring stream Or in the cultured field, a man so bred

Detains ; but tempted now to interpose, (Take from him what you will upon the score He with a smile exclaim'dOf ignorance or illusion) lives and breathes

“ 'Tis well you speak For noble purposes of mind : his heart

At a safe distance from our native land, Beats to the heroic song of ancient days;

And from the mansions where our youth was taught. His eye distinguishes, his soul creates.

The true descendants of those godly men And those illusions, which excite the scorn Who swept from Scotland, in a flame of zeal, Or move the pity of unthinking minds,

Shrine, altar, image, and the massy piles Are they not mainly outward ministers

That harbour'd them,—the souls retaining yet Of inward conscience with whose service charged The churlish features of that after race They came and go, appear'd and disappear, Who fled to caves, and woods, and naked rocks, Diverting evil purposes, remorse

In deadly scorn of superstitious rites, Awakening, chastening an intemperate grief Or what thcir scruples construed to be suchOr pride of heart abating: and, whene'er

How, think you, would they tolerate this scheme For less important ends those phantoms move Of fine propensities, that tends, if urged Who would forbid them, if their presence serve Far as it might be urged, to sow afresh Among wild mountains and unpeopled heaths, The weeds of Roman phantasy, in vain Filling a space, else vacant, to exalt

Uprooted; would re-consecrate our wells The forms of nature, and enlarge her powers ? To good Saint Fillan and to fair Saint Anne ; « Once more to distant ages of the world

And from long banishment recall Saint Giles, Let us revert, and place before our thoughts To watch again with tutelary love The face which rural solitude might wear

O'er stately Edinborough throned on crags ? To th’unenlighten'd swains of pagan Greece. A blessed restoration, to behold In that fair clime, the lonely herdsman, stretch'd The patron, on the shoulders of his priests, On the soft grass through half a summer's day, Once more parading through her crowded streets; With music lull’d his indolent repose:

Now simply guarded by the sober powers And in some fit of weariness, if he,

Of science, and philosophy, and sense!” When his own breath was silent, chanced to hear This answer follow'd. “ You have turn'd my A distant strain, far sweeter than the sounds

thoughts Which his poor skill could make, his fancy fetch'd, Upon our brave progenitors, who rose E'en from the blazing chariot of the sun

Against idolatry with warlike mind, A beardless youth, who touch'd a golden lute, And shrunk from vain observances, to lurk And fill'd th' illumined groves with ravishment. In caves, and woods, and under dismal rocks,

Deprived of shelter, covering, fire, and food;
Why? for this very reason that they felt,
And did acknowledge, wheresoe'er they moved,
A spiritual presence, ofttimes misconceived;
But still a high dependence, a divine
Bounty and government, that fill'd their hearts
With joy, and gratitude, and fear, and love:
And from their fervent lips drew hymns of praise,
That through the desert rang. Though favour'd

And twice ten thousand interests, do yet prize
This soul, and the transcendent universe,
No more than as a mirror that reflects
To proud self-love her own intelligence ;

| That one, poor, infinite object, in the abyss
Of infinite being, twinkling restlessly!

"Nor higher place can be assign'd to him
And his compeers-the laughing sage of France.
Crown'd 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 conferr'd,

His tottering body was with wreaths of flowers

Than spring oft twines about a mouldering tree;

Far less, than these, yet such, in their degree,
Were those bewilder'd pagans of old time.
Beyond their own poor natures and above
They look'd: were humbly thankful for the good Opprest, far less becoming ornaments
Which the warm sun solicited-and earth
Bestow'd; were gladsome,—and their moral sense Yet so it pleased a fond, a vain old man,
They fortified with reverence for the gods
And a most frivolous people. Him I mean
And they had hopes that overstepp'd the grave. Who penn'd, 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,
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 grasp'd the solitary's hand,
"You have known better lights and guides than


"Now, shall our great discoverers," he exclaim'd,
Raising his voice triumphantly, "obtain
From sense and reason less than these obtain❜d,
Though far misled? Shall men for whom our age
Unbaffled powers of vision hath prepared,
T'explore the world without and world within,
Be joyless as the blind? Ambitious souls-
Whom earth, at this late season, hath produced
To regulate the moving spheres, and weigh
The planets in the hollow of their hand;
And they who rather die than soar, whose pains
Have solved the elements, or analyzed
The thinking principle-shall they in fact
Prove a degraded race? and what avails
Renown, if their presumption make them such?
O 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,
Viewing all objects unremittingly
In disconnexion 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
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, ponder'd, search'd,
Probed, vex'd, and criticised? Accuse me not
Of arrogance, unknown wanderer as I am,
If, having walk'd with nature threescore years,
And offer'd, 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
Sway'd by such motives, to such end employ'd;
Philosophers, who, though the human soul
Be of a thousand faculties composed,

Ah! let not aught amiss within dispose
A noble mind to practise on herself,
And tempt opinion to support the wrongs
Of passion: whatsoe'er be felt or fear'd,
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,
Affronts the eye of solitude, shall learn
That her mild nature can be terrible;
That neither she nor silence lack the power
T'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,
Link'd in entire complacence with her choice;
When youth's presumptuousness is mellow'd down,
And manhood's vain anxiety dismiss'd;
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 fall'n pride
And chambers of transgression now forlorn.
O, calm, contented days, and peaceful nights
Who, when such good can be obtain'd, would strive
To reconcile his manhood to a couch

Soft, as may seem, but, under that disguise

Stuff'd with the thorny substance of the past,
For fix'd annoyance; and full oft beset
With floating dreams, disconsolate and black,
The vapory phantoms of futurity?

"Within the soul a faculty abides,
That with interpositions, which would hide
And darken, so can deal, that they become
Contingencies of pomp; and serve t' 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
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 touch'd
With manifest emotion, and exclaim'd,
"But how begin? and whence? The mind is free; Is to the ear of faith and there are times,
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, in a little boat

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.
Yes, you have felt, and may not cease to feel.
Th' 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,

That holds but him, and can contain no more!
Religion tells of amity sublime

Which no condition can preclude: of one
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


When in the sky no promise may be seen,
Fall to refresh a parch'd and wither'd land?
Or shall the groaning spirit cast her load
At the Redeemer's feet?"

In rueful tone,
With some impatience in his mien he spake;
Back to my mind rush'd all that had been urged
To calm the sufferer when his story closed;
I look'd for counsel as unbending now;
But a discriminating sympathy
Stoop'd to this apt reply-

For you, assuredly, a hopeful road
Lies open we have heard from you a voice
At every moment soften'd in its course
By tenderness of heart; have seen your eye,
Even like an altar lit by fire from heaven,
Kindle before us. Your discourse this day,
That, like the fabled lethe, wish'd 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

To hearts that own not him? Will showers of In some calm season, when these lofty rocks

At night's approach bring down the unclouded sky
To rest upon their circumambient walls;
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

"As men from men
Do, in the constitution of their souls,
Differ, by mystery not to be explain'd;
And as we fall by various ways, and sink
One deeper than another, self-condemn'd,
Through manifold degrees of guilt and shame,
So manifold and various are the ways
Of restoration, fashion'd to the steps
Of all infirmity, and tending all
To the same point,-attainable by all;
Peace in ourselves, and union with our God.

Is yet preserved to principles of truth,
Which the imaginative will upholds
In seats of wisdom, not to be approach'd
By the inferior faculty that moulds,
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-lipp'd shell;
To which, in silence hush'd, his very soul
Listen'd intensely; and his countenance soon
Brighten'd with joy; for murmurings from within
Were heard,-sonorous cadences! whereby
To his belief, the monitor express'd
Mysterious union with its native sea.
E'en such a shell the universe itself

To glorify th' 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
Sends inspiration from the shadowy heights,
And blind recesses of the cavern'd rocks;
The little hills, 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-
An iron knell! with echoes from afar

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Faint-and still fainter-as the cry, with which Departing not, for them shall be confirm'd
The wanderer accompanies her flight

The glorious habit by which sense is made
Through the calm region, fades upon the ear, Subservient still to moral purposes,
Diminishing by distance till it seemed

Auxiliar to divine. That change shall clothe T'expire, yet from th' abyss is caught again, The naked spirit, ceasing to deplore And yet again recover'd.

The burden of existence. Science then “ But descending Shall be a precious visitant; and then, From these imaginative heights, that yield And only then, be worthy of her name, Far-stretching views into eternity,

For then her heart shall kindle; her dull eye, Acknowledge that in nature's humbler power Dull and inanimate, no more shall hang Your cherish'd sullenness is forced to bend Chain'd to its object in brute slavery ; E’en here, where her amenities are sown

But taught with patient interest to watch With sparing hand. Then trust yourself abroad The processes of things, and serve the cause To range her blooming bowers, and spacious fields, of order and distinctness, not for this Where on the labours of the happy throng

Shall I forget that its most noble use, She smiles, including in her wide embrace

Its most illustrious province, must be found City, and town, and tower,—and sea with ships In furnishing clear guidance, a support Sprinkled; be our companion while we track Not treacherous to the mind's excursive power. Her rivers populous with gliding life;

So build we up the being that we are ; Wbile, free as air, o’er printless sands we march, Thus deeply drinking in the soul of things, Or pierce the gloom of her majestic woods ; We shall be wise perforce ; and while inspired Roaming, or resting under grateful shade

By choice, and conscious that the will is free, In peace and meditative cheerfulness;

Unswerving shall we move, as if impellid
Where living things, and things inanimate, By strict necessity, along the path
Do speak, at heaven's command, to eye and ear, Of order and of good. Whate'er we see,
And speak to social reason's inner sense,

Whate'er we feel, by agency direct
With inarticulate language.

Or indirect, shall tend to feed and nurse « For the man,

Our faculties, shall fix in calmer seats Who, in this spirit, communes with the forms Of moral strength, and raise to loftier heights Of nature, who with understanding heart

Of love divine, our intellectual soul.” Doth know and love such objects as excite

Here closed the sage that eloquent harangue, No morbid passions, no disquietude,

Pour'd forth with fervour in continuous stream; No vengeance, and no hatred, needs must feel Such as, remote, ’mid savage wilderness, The joy of that pure principle of love

An Indian chief discharges from his breast So deeply, that, unsatisfied with aught

Into the hearing of assembled tribes, Less pure and exquisite, he cannot choose

In open circle seated round, and hush'd But seek for objects of a kindred love

As the unbreathing air, when not a leaf In fellow natures and a kindred joy.

Stirs in the mighty woods. So did he speak: Accordingly he by degrees perceives

The words he utter'd shall not pass away; His feelings of aversion soften'd down;

For they sank into me—the bounteous gift A holy tenderness pervade his frame.

Of one whom time and nature had made wise. His sanity of reason not impair’d,

Gracing his language with authority
Say rather, all his thoughts now flowing clear, Which hostile spirits silently allow;
From a clear fountain flowing, he looks round Of one accustom'd to desires that feed
And seeks for good; and finds the good he seeks; On fruitage gather'd from the tree of life;
Until abhorrence and contempt are things

To hopes on knowledge and experience built;
He only knows by name ; and, if he hear, Of one in whom persuasion and belief
From other mouths, the language which they speak, Had ripen'd into faith, and faith become
He is compassionate ; and has no thought,

A passionate intuition ; whence the soul, No feeling, which can overcome his love.

Though bound to earth by ties of pity and love, “ And further; by contemplating these forms From all injurious servitude was free. In the relations which they bear to man,

The sun, before his place of rest were reachd, He shall discern, how, through the various means Had yet to travel far, but unto us, Which silently they yield, are multiplied

To us who stood low in that hollow dell,
The spiritual presences of absent things.

He had become invisible,-a pomp
Trust me, that for the instructed, time will come Leaving behind of yellow radiance spread
When they shall meet no object but may teach Upon the mountain sides, in contrast bold
Some acceptable lesson to their minds

With ample shadows, seemingly, no less
Of human suffering, or of human joy.

Than those resplendent lights, his rich bequest, So shall they learn, while all things speak of man, A dispensation of his evening power. Their duties from all forms; and general laws, Adown the path that from the glen had led And local accidents, shall tend alike

The funeral train, the shepherd and his mate To rouse, to urge; and, with the will, confer Were seen descending; forth to greet them ran Th' ability to spread the blessings wide

Our little page; the rustic pair approach; Of true philanthropy. The light of love

And in the matron's aspect may be read Not failing, perseverance from their steps A plain assurance that the words which told

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