« AnteriorContinuar »
Raised on his arm, he lists the cadence close,
It is not only in the sacred fame That homage should be paid to the Most High ; There is a temple, one not made with hands, The vaulted firmament. Far in the woods, Almost beyond the sound of city chime, At intervals heard through the breezeless air; When not the limberest leaf is seen to move, Save where the linnet lights upon the spray; Where not a floweret bends its little stalk, Save when the bee alights upon the bloom— There, rapt in gratitude, in joy, and love, The man of God will pass the Sabbath-moon; Silence his praise: his disembodied thoughts, Loosed from the load of words, will high ascend Beyond the empyreal. Nor yet less pleasing at the heavenly throne, The Sabbath service of the shepherd boy! In some lone glen, where every sound is lull'd To slumber, save the tinkling of the rill, Or bleat of lamb, or hovering falcon's cry, Stretch'd on the sward, he reads of Jesse’s son ; Or sheds a tear o'er him to Egypt sold, And wonders why he weeps: the volume closed, With thyme-sprig laid between the leaves, he sings The sacred lays, his weekly lesson, conn'd With meikle care beneath the lowly roof, Where humble lore is learnt, where humble worth Pines unrewarded by a thankless state. Thus reading, hymning, all alone, unseen, The shepherd-boy the Sabbath holy keeps, Till on the heights he marks the straggling bands Returning homeward from the house of prayer. In peace they home resort. Oh blissful days : When all men worship God as conscience wills. Far other times our fathers’ grandsires knew, A virtuous race, to godliness devote. What though the sceptic's scorn hath dared to soil The record of their fame What though the men Of worldly minds have dared to stigmatise The sister-cause, Religion and the Law, With Superstition's name !—yet, yet their deeds, Their constancy in torture and in death— These on tradition's tongue still live, these shall On history's honest page be pictured bright To latest times. Perhaps some bard, whose muse Disdains the servile strain of fashion’s quire, May celebrate their unambitious names. With them each day was holy, every hour They stood prepared to die, a people doom'd To death—old men, and youths, and simple maids. With them each day was holy; but that morn On which the angel said, “See where the Lord Was laid,” joyous arose—to die that day Was bliss. Long ere the dawn, by devious ways, O'er hills, through woods, o'er dreary wastes, they
The upland moors, where rivers, there but brooks,
On England's banner, and had powerless struck
But wood and wild, the mountain and the dale,
The house of prayer itself, no place inspires
o But who is he
* Sentinels were placed on the surrounding hills, to give warning of the approach of the Inilitary.
# Towards the end of Columbus's voyage to the new world, when he was already near, but not in sight of land, the drooping hopes of his mariners (for his own confidence seems to have remained unmoved) were revived by the appearance of birds at first hovering round the ship, and then lighting on the rigging.
The dread resolve is fix’d—his own right hand
Or turn thee to that house, with studded doors, And iron-visor'd windows, even there The Sabbath sheds a beam of bliss, though faint ; The debtor's friends, for still he has some friends, Have time to visit him ; the blossoming pea, That climbs the rust-worn bars, seems fresher tinged; And on the little turf, this day renew’d, The lark, his prison mate, quivers the wing With more than wonted joy. See, through the bars, That pallid face retreating from the view, That glittering eye, following with hopeless look, The friends of former years, now passing by In peaceful fellowship to worship God: With them in days of youthful years, he roam'd O'er hill and dale, o'er broomy knowe; and wist As little as the blythest of the band Of this his lot; condemn'd, condemn’d unheard, The party for his judge—among the throng, The Pharisaical hard-hearted man He sees pass on to join the heaven-taught prayer, “Forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors:” From unforgiving lips most impious prayer Oh happier far the victim, than the hand That deals the legal stab' The injured man Enjoys internal, settled calm; to him
The Sabbath bell sounds peace; he loves to meet
Relentless Justice with fate-furrow’d brow! Wherefore to various crimes, of various guilt, One penalty, the most severe, allot? Why pall’d in state, and mitred with a wreath Of nightshade, dost thou sit portentously, Beneath a cloudy canopy of sighs, Of fears, of trembling hopes, of boding doubts?— Death's dart thy mace! Why are the laws of God, Statutes promulg’d in characters of fire,” Despised in deep concerns, where heavenly guidance Is most required? The murderer—let him die, And him who lifts his arm against his parent, His country, or his voice against his God. Let crimes less heinous dooms less dreadful meet Than loss of life So said the law divine, That law beneficent, which mildly stretch'd To the forgotten and forlorn, the hand Of restitution: Yes, the trumpet’s voice The Sabbath of the jubileet announced: The freedom-freighted blast, through all the land At once, in every city, echoing rings, From Lebanon to Carmel's woody cliffs, So loud, that far within the desert's verge The couching lion starts, and glares around. Free is the bondman now, each one returns To his inheritance: the man, grown old In servitude, far from his native fields, Hastes joyous on his way; no hills are steep, Smooth is each rugged path; his little ones Sport as they go, while oft the mother chides The lingering step, lured by the wayside flowers: At length the hill, from which a farewell look, And still another parting look, he threw On his paternal vale, appears in sight: The summit gain'd, throbs hard his heart with joy And sorrow blent, to see that vale once more 1 Instant his eager eye darts to the roof Where first he saw the light; his youngest born He lifts, and, pointing to the much-lov’d spot, Says, “There thy fathers liv'd, and there they sleep.” Onward he wends; near and more near he draws:
* “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.”—Exod. xix. 16.
+ “And thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”—Lev. xxv. 8, 9, 10.
How sweet the tinkle of the palm-bower'd brook :
Did ever law of man a power like this Display ?—power marvellous as merciful, Which, though in other ordinances still Most plainly seen, is yet but little mark'd For what it truly is—a miracle! Stupendous, ever new, perform'd at once In every region, yea, on every sea Which Europe's navies plough; yes, in all lands From pole to pole, or civilised or rude, People there are, to whom the Sabbath morn Dawns shedding dews into their drooping hearts: Yes; far beyond the high-heaved western wave, Amid Columbia's wildernesses vast, The words which God in thunder from the mount Of Sinai spake, are heard, and are obey'd. Thy children, Scotia, in the desert land, Driven from their homes by fell Monopoly, Keep holy to the Lord the seventh day. Assembled under loftiest canopy Of trees primeval (soon to be laid low), They sing, “By Babel's streams we sat and wept.”
What strong mysterious links enchain the heart To regions where the morn of life was spent : In foreign lands, though happier be the clime, Though round our board smile all the friends we love, The face of nature wears a stranger's look. Yea, though the valley which we loved be swept Of its inhabitants, none left behind, Not even the poor blind man who sought his bread From door to door, still, still there is a want; Yes, even he, round whom a night that knows No dawn is ever spread, whose native vale Presented to his closed eyes a blank, Deplores its distance now. There well he knew Each object, though unseen; there could he wend His way guideless through wilds and mazy woods; Each aged tree, spared when the forest fell, Was his familiar friend, from the smooth birch, With rind of silken touch, to the rough elm : The three grey stones, that mark'd where heroes lay, Mourn’d by the harp, mourn’d by the melting voice Of Cona, oft his resting-place had been: Oft had they told him that his home was near: The tinkle of the rill, the murmuring So gentle of the brook, the torrent's rush, The cataract's din, the ocean's distant roar, The echo's answer to his foot or voice, All spoke a language which he understood, All warn’d him of his way. But most he feels Upon the hallow'd morn, the saddening change; No more he hears the gladsome village bell Ring the blest summons to the house of God; And, for the voice of psalms, loud, solemn, grand, That cheer'd his darkling path, as with slow step And feeble, he toil’d up the spire-topt hill, A few faint notes ascend among the trees.
* “And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Thou shalt say unto thy son, we were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”—DEut, vi, G, 7, 21.
What though the cluster'd vine there hardly tempts The traveller's hand; though birds of dazzling plume Perch on the loaded boughs; “Give me thy woods, (Exclaims the banish'd man) “thy barren woods, Poor Scotland; sweeter there the reddening haw, The sloe, or rowan’s” bitter bunch, than here The purple grape; more dear the redbreast's note, That mourns the fading year in Scotia's vales, Than Philomel's, where spring is ever new ; More dear to me the redbreast's sober suit, So like a wither'd leaflet, than the glare Of gaudy wings that make the iris dim.”
Nor is regret exclusive to the old: The boy, whose birth was midway o'er the main, A ship his cradle, by the billows rock’d— “The nursling of the storm”—although he claims No native land, yet does he wistful hear Of some far distant country still call’d home, Where lambs of whitest fleece sport on the hills, Where gold-speck'd fishes wanton in the streams; Where little birds, when snow-flakes dim the air, Light on the floor, and peck the table-crumbs, And with their singing cheer the winter day.
But what the loss of country to the woes Of banishment and solitude combined Oh! my heart bleeds to think there now may live One hapless man, the remnant of a wreck, Cast on some desert island of that main Immense, which stretches from the Cochin shore To Acapulco. Motionless he sits, As is the rock his seat, gazing whole days With wandering eye o'er all the watery waste; Now striving to believe the albatross A sail appearing on th’ horizon's verge; Now vowing ne'er to cherish other hope Than hope of death. Thus pass his weary hours, Till welcome evening warn him that 'tis time, Upon the shell-notch'd calendar to mark Another day, another dreary day— Changeless—for in these regions of the sun, The wholesome law that dooms mankind to toil, Bestowing grateful interchange of rest And labour, is annull'd ; for there the trees, Adorn’d at once with bud, and flower, and fruit, Drop, as the breezes blow, a shower of bread And blossoms on the ground. But yet by him, The hermit of the deep not unobserv'd The Sabbath passes—'tis his great delight. Each seventh eve he marks the farewell ray, And loves, and sighs to think—that setting sun Is now empurpling Scotland's mountain tops, Or, higher risen, slants athwart her vales, Tinting with yellow light the quivering throat Of day-spring lark, while woodland birds below Chaunt in the dewy shade. Thus, all night long He watches, while the rising moon describes The progress of the day in happier lands. And now he almost fancies that he hears The chiming from his native village church; And now he sings, and fondly hopes the strain May be the same that sweet ascends at home In congregation full—where, not without a tear, They are remember'd who in ships behold The wonders of the deep: he sees the hand, The widow’d hand, that veils the eye suffused: He sees his orphan boy look up, and strive The widow’d heart to soothe. His spirit leans On God. Nor does he leave his weekly vigil, Though tempests ride o'er welkin-lashing waves On wings of cloudless wind; though lightnings burst
+ “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in the great deep: these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”—PsALM cvii.
# In the tropical regions, the sky during storms is often without a cloud.
So vivid, that the stars are hid and seen
And thy right hand does lead him. . Lo! at last, One sacred eve, he hears, faint from the deep, Music remote, swelling at intervals, As if th’ embodied spirit of sweet sounds Came slowly floating on the shoreward wave: The cadence well he knows—a hymn of old, Where sweetly is rehearsed the lowly state Of Jesus, when his birth was first announced In midnight music, by an angel choir, To Bethlehem's shepherds, as they watch'd their flocks. Breathless, the man forlorn listens, and thinks It is a dream. Fuller the voices swell. He looks, and starts to see, moving along, The semblance of a fiery wave, f in crescent form, Approaching to the land; straightway he sees A towering whiteness; ’tis the heaven-fill'd sails That wast the mission'd men, who have renounced Their homes, their country, nay, almost the world, Bearing glad tidings to the farthest isles Of ocean, that the dead shall rise again. Forward the gleam-girt castle coastwise glides. It seems as it would pass away. To cry The wretched man in vain attempts, in vain, Powerless his voice as in a fearful dream : Not so his hand; he strikes the flint—a blaze Mounts from the ready heap of withered leaves: The music ceases; accents harsh succeed, Harsh, but most grateful; downward drop the sails. Engulf'd the anchor sinks; the boat is launch'd; But cautious lies aloof till morning dawn: Oh then the transport of the man, unused To other human voice beside his own, His native tongue to hear! He breathes at home, Though earth's diameter is interposed. Of perils of the sea he has no dread, Full well assured the mission’d bark is safe, Held in the hollow of the Almighty's hand. (And signal thy deliverances have been Of those thy messengers of peace and joy.) From storms that loudly threaten to unfix Islands rock-rooted in the ocean's bed, Thou dost deliver them—and from the calm, More dreadful than the storm, when motionless Upon the purple deep the vessel lies For days, for nights, illumed by phosphor lamps; When sea-birds seem in nests of flame to float; When backward starts the boldest mariner To see, while o'er the side he leans, his face As if deep-tinged with blood.
* “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”—PsALM cxxxix.
i “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold ! I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you—ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling-clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”—Luke, ii. 8–14.
+ “In some seas, as particularly about the coast of Malabar, ns a ship floats along, it seems during the night to be surrounded with fire, and to leave a long tract of light behind it. Whenever the sea is gently agitated, it seems converted into little stars; every drop as it breaks emits light, like bodies electrified in the dark.”—DAR win.
Let worldly men The cause and combatants contemptuous scorn, And call fanatics them, who hazard health And life, in testifying of the truth, Who joy and glory in the cross of Christ! What were the Galilean fishermen But messengers commission'd to announce The resurrection and the life to come? They, too, though clothed with power of mighty works Miraculous, were oft received with scorn; Oft did their words fall powerless, though enforced By deeds that mark’d Omnipotence their friend. But when their efforts fail'd, unweariedly They onward went, rejoicing in their course. Like helianthus,” borne on downy wings To distant realms, they frequent fell on soils Barren and thankless; yet oft-times they saw Their labours crown'd with fruit an hundred fold— Saw the new converts testify their faith By works of love—the slave set free, the sick Attended, prisoners visited, the poor Received as brothers at the rich man’s board. Alas! how different now the deeds of men Nursed in the faith of Christ —the free made slaves | Stolen from their country, borne across the deep, Enchain'd, endungeon'd, forced by stripes to live, Doom'd to behold their wives, their little ones, Tremble beneath the white man’s fiend-like frown Yet even to scenes like this, the Sabbath brings Alleviation of th’ enormous woe ;The oft-reiterated stroke is still; The clotted scourge hangs hardening in the shrouds. But see the demon man, whose trade is blood, With dauntless front convene-his ruffian crew, To hear the sacred service read. Accursed The wretch's bile-tinged lips profane the word Of God: accursed, he ventures to pronounce The decalogue, nor falters at that law Wherein 'tis written, “Thou shalt do no murder:” Perhaps while yet the words are on his lips, He hears a dying mother's parting groan; He hears her orphan’d child, with lisping plaint, Attempt to rouse her from the sleep of death.
Oh England England 1 wash thy purpled hands Of this foul sin, and never dip them more In guilt so damnable; then lift them up In supplication to that God whose name Is Mercy; then thou may’st, without the risk Of drawing vengeance from the surcharged clouds, Implore protection to thy menaced shores; Then God will blast the tyrant's arm that grasps The thunderbolt of ruin o'er thy head; Then will he turn the wolvish race to prey Upon each other; then will he arrest The lava torrent, causing it regorge Back to its source with fiery desolation.
Of all the murderous trades by mortals plied, 'Tis war alone that never violates The hallow'd day by simulate respect— By hypocritic rest; no, no, the work proceeds. From sacred pinnacles are hung the flags + That give the sign to slip the leash for slaughter. The bells whose knoll a holy calmness pour’d Into the good man's breast, whose sound consoled The sick, the poor, the old—perversion dire — Pealing with sulph’rous tongue, speak death-fraught
From morn to eve destruction revels phrensied,
* Sun-flower. “The seeds of many plants of this kind are furnished with a plume, by which admirable mechanism they are disseminated far from their parent stem.”—DA twin.
i Church steeples are frequently used as signal-posts.
The croak of flesh-gorged ravens, as they slake
And what the harvest of these bloody fields? A double weight of fetters to the slave, And chains on arms that wielded Freedom’s sword Spirit of Tell ! and art thou doom'd to see Thy mountains, that confess'd no other chains Than what the wintry elements had forged— Thy vales, where freedom and her stern compeer, Proud virtuous poverty, their noble state Maintain'd, amid surrounding threats of wealth, Of superstition, and tyrannic sway Spirit of Tell ! and art thou doom'd to see That land subdued by slavery's basest slaves, By men, whose lips pronounce the sacred name Of Liberty, then kiss the despot's foot ? Helvetia hadst thou to thyself been true, Thy dying sons had triumph'd as they fell: But ’twas a glorious effort, though in vain. Aloft thy genius 'mid the sweeping clouds, The flag of freedom spread; bright in the storm The streaming meteor waved, and far it gleam'd; But ah! 'twas transient as the iris’ arch, Glanced from leviathan's ascending shower, When 'mid the mountain waves heaving his head. Already had the friendly-seeming foe Possess'd the snow-piled ramparts of the land; Down like an avalanche they roll’d, they crush'd The temple, palace, cottage, every work Of art and nature, in one common ruin. The dreadful crash is o'er, and peace ensues— The peace of desolation, gloomy, still: Each day is like a Sabbath; but, alas ! No Sabbath-service glads the seventh day; No more the happy villagers are seen, Winding adown the rock-hewn paths that wont To lead their footsteps to the house of prayer; But, far apart, assembled in the depth Of solitudes, perhaps a little group Of aged men, and orphan boys, and maids Berest, list to the breathings of the holy man Who spurns an oath of fealty to the power Of rulers chosen by a tyrant's nod. No more, as dies the rustling of the breeze, Is heard the distant vesper-hymn; no more At gloamin hour, the plaintive strain that links His country to the Switzer's heart, delights The loosening team; or if some shepherd boy Attempt the strain, his voice soon faltering stops; He feels his country now a foreign land.
Oh Scotland I can'st thou for a moment brook The mere imagination, that a fate Like this can e'er be thine, that o'er those hills And dear-boughtvales, whence Wallace, Douglas, Bruce, Repell’d proud Edward’s multitudinous hordes, A Gallic foe, that abject race, should rule : No, no! let never hostile standard touch Thy shore: rush, rush into the dashing brine, And crest each wave with steel; and should the stamp Of Slavery’s footstep violate the strand, Let not the tardy tide efface the mark; Sweep off the stigma with a sea of blood
But truce with war, at best a dismal theme; Thrice happy he, who far in Scottish glen Retired (yet ready at his country’s call), Has left the restless emmet-hill of man He never longs to read the saddening tale Of endless wars; and seldom does he hear
* After a heavy cannonade, the shivered branches of trees, and the corpses of the killed, are seen floating together down the riyers,
The tale of woe; and ere it reaches him,
Oh Scotland much I love thy tranquil dales; But most on Sabbath eve, when low the sun Slants through the upland copse, ’tis my delight, Wandering and stopping oft, to hear the song Of kindred praise arise from humble roofs; Or when the simple service ends, to hear The lifted latch, and mark the grey-hair'd man, The father and the priest, walk forth alone Into his garden-plat or little field, To commune with his God in secret prayer— To bless the Lord, that in his downward years His children are about him: sweet meantime, The thrush that sings upon the aged thorn, Brings to his view the days of youthful years, When that same aged thorn was but a bush. Nor is the contrast between youth and age To him a painful thought; he joys to think His journey near a close; heaven is his home. More happy far that man, though bowed down, Though feeble be his gait, and dim his eye, Than they, the favourites of youth and health, Of riches and of fame, who have renounced The glorious promise of the life to come— Clinging to death. Or mark that female face, The faded picture of its former self, The garments coarse but clean; frequent at church I’ve noted such a one, feeble and pale, Yet standing, with a look of mild content, Till beckon’d by some kindly hand to sit. She had seen better days; there was a time Her hands could earn her bread, and freely give To those who were in want; but now old age And lingering disease have made her helpless. Yet is she happy, ay, and she is wise, (Philosophers may sneer, and pedants frown), Although her Bible be her only book; And she is rich, although her only wealth Be recollection of a well-spent life— Be expectation of the life to come. Examine here, explore the narrow path In which she walks; look not for virtuous deeds In history’s arena, where the prize Of fame or power prompts to heroic acts. Peruse the lives themselves of men obscure; There charity, that robs itself to give, There fortitude in sickness nursed by want, There courage that expects no tongue to praise, There virtue lurks, like purest gold deep hid, With no alloy of selfish motive mix’d. The poor man’s boom, that stints him of his bread, Is prized more highly in the sight of Him Who sees the heart, than golden gifts from hands That scarce can know their countless treasures less:* Yea, the deep sigh that heaves the poor man's breast To see distress, and feel his willing arm Palsied by penury, ascends to Heaven, While ponderous bequests of lands and goods, Ne'er rise above their earthly origin.
And should all bounty that is clothed with power Be deem’d unworthy : Far be such a thought !
* “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”—MARK, xii. 41-44.