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At distance still the same. Poor Traveller!
His staff trails with him; scarcely do his feet
Disturb the summer dust; he is so still
In look and motion, that the cottage curs,
Ere he have passed the door, will turn away,
Weary of barking at him. Boys and Girls,
The vacant and the busy, Maids and Youths,
And Urchins newly breeched—all pass him by :
Him even the slow-paced Waggon leaves behind.
But deem not this Man useless.—Statesmen! ye
Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye
Who have a broom still ready in your
To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud,
Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate
Your talents, power, and wisdom, deem him not
A burthen of the earth. 'Tis Nature's law
That none, the meanest of created things,
Of forms created the most vile and brute,
The dullest or most noxious, should exist
Divorced from good—a spirit and pulse of good,
A life and soul to every mode of being
Inseparably linked. While thus he creeps
From door to door, the Villagers in him
Behold a record which together binds Past deeds and offices of charity, Else unremembered, and so keeps alive The kindly mood in hearts which lapse of years, And that half-wisdom half-experience gives, Make slow to feel, and by sure steps resign To selfishness and cold oblivious cares. Among the farms and solitary huts, Hamlets and thinly-scattered villages, Where'er the aged Beggar takes his rounds, The mild necessity of use compels To acts of love; and habit does the work Of reason; yet prepares that after joy Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul, By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursued, Doth find itself insensibly disposed To virtue and true goodness. Some there are, By their good works exalted, lofty minds And meditative, authors of delight And happiness, which to the end of time Will live, and spread, and kindle; minds like these, In childhood, from this solitary Being, This helpless Wanderer, have perchance received (A thing inore precious far than all that books
Or the solicitudes of love can do!)
That first mild touch of sympathy and thought,
In which they found their kindred with a world
Where want and sorrow were. The
Man Who sits at his own door,-and, like the pear Which overhangs his head from the green wall, Feeds in the sunshine ; the robust and young, The prosperous and unthinking, they who live Sheltered, and flourish in a little grove Of their own kindred ;--all behold in him A silent monitor, which on their minds Must needs impress a transitory thought Of self-congratulation, to the heart Of each recalling his peculiar boons, His charters and exemptions; and, perchance, Though he to no one give the fortitude And circumspection needful to preserve His present blessings, and to husband up The respite of the season, he, at least, And 'tis no vulgar service, makes them felt.
Yet further.- Many, I believe, there are
Who live a life of virtuous decency,
Men who can hear the Decalogue and feel
No self-reproach; who of the moral law
Established in the land where they abide
Are strict observers; and not negligent,
Meanwhile, in any tenderness of heart
Or act of love to those with whom they dwell,
Their kindred, and the children of their blood.
Praise be to such, and to their slumbers peace!
-But of the poor man ask, the abject poor,
Go and demand of him, if there be here
In this cold abstinence from evil deeds,
And these inevitable charities,
Wherewith to satisfy the human soul?
No-Man is dear to Man; the poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been
Themselves the fathers and the dealers-out
Of some small blessings, have been kind to such
As needed kindness, for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart.
-Such pleasure is to one kind Being known,
My Neighbour, when with punctual care, each week
Duly as Friday comes, though prest herself
By her own wants, she from her chest of meal
Takes one unsparing handful for the scrip
Of this old Mendicant, and, from her door
Returning with exhilarated heart,
Sits by her fire and builds her hope in heaven.
Then let him pass, a blessing on his head !
And while in that vast solitude to which
The tide of things has led him, he appears
To breathe and live but for himself alone,
Unblamed, uninjured, let him bear about
The good which the benignant law of Heaven
Has hung around him; and, while life is his,
Still let him prompt the unlettered Villagers
To tender offices and pensive thoughts.
- Then let him pass, a blessing on his head!
And, long as he can wander, let him breathe
The freshness of the valleys ; let his blood
Struggle with frosty air and winter snows;
And let the chartered wind that sweeps the heath
Beat his gray locks against his withered face.
Reverence the hope whose vital anxiousness
Gives the last human interest to his heart.
May never House, misnamed of INDUSTRY,
Make him a captive! for that pent-up din,
Those life-consuming sounds that clog the air,