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For hence, minutely, in his various rounds, Upon that cottage bench reposed his limbs,
He had observed the progress and decay

Screen'd from the sun. Supine the wanderer lay, Of many minds, of minds and bodies too

His eyes as if in drowsiness half shut, The history of many families,

The shadows of the breezy elms above How they had prosper'd ; how they were o'er- Dappling his face. He had not heard the sound thrown

Of my approaching steps, and in the shade By passion or mischance ; or such misrule

Unnoticed did I stand, some minutes' space. Among the unthinking masters of the earth At length I hail'd him, seeing that his hat As makes the nations groan.—This active course

Was moist with water-drops, as if the brim He follow'd till provision for his wants

Had newly scoop'd a running stream. Had been obtain'd ;-the wanderer then resolved And ere our lively greeting into peace To pass the remnant of his days—untask'a Had settled, “ 'Tis," said I,“ a burning day: With needless services--from hardship free. My lips are parch'd with thirst, but you, it seems, His calling laid aside, he lived at ease.

Have somewhere found relief.” He, at the word, But still he loved to pace the public roads

Pointing towards a sweet-brier, bade me climb And the wild paths ; and by the summer's warmth The fence where that aspiring shrub look'd out Invited, often would he leave his home

Upon the public way. It was a plot And journey far, revisiting the scenes

Of garden ground run wild, its matted weeds That to his memory were most endear'd.

Mark'd with the steps of those, whom, as they Vigorous in health, of hopeful spirits, undamp'd

pass'd, By worldly-mindedness or anxious care ;

The gooseberry trees that shot in long lank slips, Observant, studious, thoughtful, and refresh'd Or currants, hanging from their leafless stems By knowledge gather'd up from day to day ;- In scanty strings, had tempted to o’erleap Thus had he lived a long and innocent life.

The broken wall. I look'd around, and there, The Scottish church, both on himself and those Where too tall hedge-rows of thick alder boughs With whom from childhood he grew up, had held Join'd in a cold, damp nook, espied a well The strong hand of her purity; and still

Shrouded with willow flowers and plumy fern. Had watch'd him with an unrelenting eye.

My thirst I slaked, and from the cheerless spot This he remember'd in his riper age

Withdrawing, straightway to the shade return'd With gratitude, and reverential thoughts.

Where sate the old man on the cottage bench; But by the native vigour of his mind,

And, while beside him, with uncover'd head, By his habitual wanderings out of doors,

I yet was standing, freely to respire, By loneliness, and goodness, and kind works,

And cool my temples in the fanning air, Whate er, in docile childhood or in youth,

Thus did he speak. “ I see around me here He had imbibed of fear or darker thought

Things which you cannot see: we die, my friend, Was melted all away: so true was this,

Nor we alone, but that which each man loved That sometimes bis religion seem'd to me

And prized in his peculiar nook of earth Self-taught, as of a dreamer in the woods ;

Dies with him, or is changed ; and very soon Who to the model of his own pure heart

Even of the good is no memorial left.Shaped his belief as grace divine inspired,

The poets, in their elegies and songs Or human reason dictated with awe.

Lamenting the departed, call the groves, And surely never did there live on earth

They call upon the hills and streams to mourn, A man of kindlier nature. The rough sports

And senseless rocks; nor idly ; for they speak, And teasing ways of children vex'd not him ; In these their invocations, with a voice Indulgent listener was he to the tongue

Obedient to the strong creative power
Of garrulous age; nor did the sick man's tale, Of human passion. Sympathies there are
To his fraternal sympathy address'd,

More tranquil, yet perhaps of kindred birth,
Obtain reluctant hearing.

That steal upon the meditative mind,
Plain his garb;

And grow with thought. Beside yon spring I stood, Such as might suit a rustic sire, prepared

And eyed its waters till we seem'd to feel For Sabbath duties ; yet he was a man

One sadness, they and I. For them a bond Whom no one could have pass'd without remark. Of brotherhood is broken : time has been Active and nervous was his gait ; his limbs When, every day, the touch of human hand And his whole figure breathed intelligence. Dislodged the natural sleep that binds them up Time had compress'd the freshness of his cheek In mortal stillness; and they minister'd Into a narrower circle of deep red,

To human comfort. Stooping down to drink, Bat had not tamed his eye ; that, under brows Upon the slimy footstone I espied Shaggy and gray, had meanings which it brought The useless fragment of a wooden bowl, From years of youth ; which, like a being made Green with the moss of years, and subject only Of many beings, he had wondrous skill

To the soft handling of the elements : To blend with knowledge of the years to come, There let the relic lie-fond thought-vain words : Human, or such as lie beyond the grave.

Forgive them ;-never--never did my steps

Approach this door but she who dwelt within So was he framed ; and such his course of life A daughter's welcome gave me, and I loved her Who now, with no appendage but a staff,

As my own child. O, sir ! the good die first, The prized memorial of relinquish'd toils, And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust

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Had fill'd with plenty, and possess'd in peace, Hath bless'd poor Margaret for her gentle looks, This lonely cottage. At his door he stood, When she upheld the cool refreshment drawn And whistled many a snatch of merry tunes From that forsaken spring: and no one came That had no mirth in them; or with his knife But he was welcome; no one went away

Carved uncouth figures on the heads of sticksBut that it seem'd she loved him. She is dead, Then, not less idly, sought, through every nook The light extinguishid of her lonely hut,

In house or garden, any casual work The hut itself abandon'd to decay,

Of use or ornament; and with a strange, And she forgotten in the quiet grave!

Amusing, yet uneasy novelty, " I speak,” continued he, “ of one whose stock He blended, where he might, the various tasks Of virtues bloom'd beneath this lowly roof. Of summer, autumn, winter, and the spring. She was a woman of a steady mind,

But this endured not; his good humour soon Tender and deep in her excess of love,

Became a weight in which no pleasure was: Not speaking much, pleased rather with the joy And poverty brought on a petted mood Of her own thoughts : by some especial care And a sore temper : day by day he droop'd, Her temper had been framed, as if to make And he would leave his work—and to the town, A being—who by adding love to peace

Without an errand, would direct his steps Might live on earth a life of happiness.

Or wander here and there among the fields. Her wedded partner lack'd not on his side

One while he would speak lightly of his babes, The humble worth that satisfied her heart : And with a cruel tongue: at other times Frugal, affectionate, sober, and withal

He toss'd them with a false unnatural joy: Keenly industrious. She with pride would tell And 'twas a rueful thing to see the looks That he was often seated at his loom,

Of the poor, innocent children. • Every smile,' In summer, ere the mower was abroad

Said Margaret to me, here beneath these trees, Among the dewy grass,-in early spring,

Made my heart bleed.'” Ere the lastftar had vanish'd.—They who pass'd

At this the wanderer paused; At evening, from behind the garden fence And, looking up to those enormous elms, Might hear his busy spade, which he would ply, He said, “ 'Tis now the hour of deepest noon.After his daily work, until the light

At this still season of repose and peace,
Had fail'd, and every leaf and flower were lost This hour when all things which are not at rest
In the dark hedges. So their days were spent Are cheerful; while this multitude of flies
In peace and comfort; and a pretty boy

Is filling all the air with melody ;
Was their best hope,-next to the God in heaven. Why should a tear be in an old man's eye?

« Not twenty years ago, but you I think Why should we thus, with an untoward mind,
Can scarcely bear it now in mind, there came And in the weakness of humanity,
Two blighting seasons, when the fields were left From natural wisdom turn our hearts away,
With half a harvest. It pleased Heaven to add To natural comfort shut out eyes and ears,
A worse affliction in the plague of war;

And, feeding on disquiet, thus disturb This happy land was stricken to the heart ! The calm of nature with our restless thoughts ?” A wanderer then among the cottages 1, with my freight of winter raiment, saw He spake with somewhat of a solemn tone: The hardships of that season; many rich

But, when he ended, there was in his face Sank down, as in a dream, among the poor ; Such easy cheerfulness, a look so mild, And of the poor did many cease to be,

That for a little time it stole away And their place knew them not. Meanwhile, All recollection, and that simple tale abridged

Pass'd from my mind like a forgotten sound. Of daily comforts, gladly reconciled

Awhile on trivial things we held discourse, To numerous self-denials, Margaret

To me soon tasteless. In my own despite, Went struggling on through those calamitous years I thought of that poor woman as of one With cheerful hope, until the second autumn, Whom I had known and loved. He had rehearsed When her life's helpmate on a sick-bed lay, Her homely tale with such familiar power, Smitten with perilous fever. In disease

With such an active countenance, an eye He linger'd long: and when his strength return'd, So busy, that the things of which he spake He found the little he had stored, to meet

Seem'd present; and attention now relax'd, The hour of accident or crippling age,

A heartfelt chillness crept along my veins. Was all consumed. A second infant now

I rose ; and, having left the breezy shade, Was added to the troubles of a time

Stood drinking comfort from the warmer sun, Laden, for them and all of their degree,

That had not cheer'd me long-ere, looking round With care and sorrow : shoals of artisans

Upon that tranquil ruin, I return'd, From ill requitted labour turn'd adrift,

And begg'd of the old man that, for my sake, Sought daily bread from public charity,

He would resume his story.They, and their wives and children-happier far

He replied, Could they have lived as do the little birds “ It were a wantonness, and would demand That peck along the hedge-rows, or the kite Severe reproof, if we were men whose hearts That makes her dwelling on the mountain rocks ! Could hold vain dalliance with the misery

“ A sad reverse it was for him who long Even of the dead: coutented thence to draw

A momentary pleasure, never mark'd

With tender cheerfulness; and with a voice By reason, barren of all future good.

That seem'd the very sound of happy thoughts. But we have known that there is often found “ I roved o'er many a hill and many a dale, In mournful thoughts, and always might be found, With my accustom'd load; in heat and cold, A power to virtue friendly: were 't not so, Through many a wood, and many an open ground, I am a dreamer among men, indeed,

In sunshine and in shade, in wet and fair, An idle dreamer ! 'tis a common tale,

Drooping or blithe of heart, as might befall ; An ordinary sorrow of man's life,

My best companions now the driving winds, A tale of silent suffering, hardly clothed

And now the trotting brooks'and whispering trees, In bodily form.—But without further bidding And now the music of my own sad steps, I will proceed.

With many a shortlived thought that pass'd bem “ While thus it fared with them,

tween, To whom this cottage, till those hapless years, And disappeard.— I journey'd back this way, Had been a blessed home, it was my chance When, in the warmth of midsummer, the wheat To travel in a country far remote;

Was yellow: and the soft and bladed grass, And when these lofty elms once more appear’d, Springing afresh, had o'er the hay-field spread What pleasant expectations lured me on

Its tender verdure. At the door arrived,
O’er the flat common - With quick step I reach'd I found that she was absent. In the shade,
The threshold, lifted with light hand the latch; Where now we sit, I waited her return.
But, when I enter'd, Margaret look'd at me Her cottage, then a cheerful object, wore
A little while; then turn'd her head away Its customary look,-only, it seem'd,
Speechless,-and, sitting down upon a chair, The honeysuckle, crowding round the porch,
Wept bitterly. I wist not what to do,

Hung down in heavier tufts: and that bright weed,
Nor how to speak to her. Poor wretch ! at last The yellow stonecrop, suffer'd to take root
She rose from off her seat, and then,-0 sir ! Along the window's edge, profusely grew,
I cannot tell how she pronounced my name :- Blinding the lower panes. I turn'd aside,
With fervent love, and with a face of grief, And stroll'd into her garden. It appear'd
Unutterably helpless, and a look

To lag behind the season, and had lost That seem'd to cling upon me, she inquired Its pride of neatness. Daisy flowers and thrift If I had seen her husband. As she spake

Had broken their trim lines, and straggled o'er A strange surprise and fear came to my heart, The paths they used to deck :-carnations, once Nor had I power to answer ere she told

Prized for surpassing beauty, and no less That he had disappear’d-not two months gone. For the peculiar pains they had required, He left his house : two wretched days had past, Declined their languid heads, wanting support. And on the third, as wistfully she raised

The cuinbrous bindweed, with its wreaths and Her head from off her pillow, to look forth,

bells, Like one in trouble, for returning light,

Had twined about her two small rows of pease, Within her chamber casement she espied

And dragg'd them to the earth.-Ere this an hour A folded paper, lying as if placed

Was wasted.-Back I turn'd my restless steps ; To meet her waking eyes. This tremblingly A stranger pass’d; and, guessing whom I sought, She open'd—found no writing, but beheld

He said that she was used to ramble far.Pieces of money carefully enclosed,

The sun was sinking in the west ; and now Silver and gold. - I shudder'd at the sight,' I sate with sad impatience. From within Said Margaret, for I knew it was his hand Her solitary infant cried aloud ; Which placed it there : and ere that day was ended, Then, like a blast that dies away self-still'd, That long and anxious day! I learn'd from one The voice was silent. From the bench I rose ; Sent hither by my husband to impart

But neither could divert nor soothe my thoughts.
The heavy news,—that he had join'd a troop The spot, though fair, was very desolate-
Of soldiers, going to a distant land.

The longer I remain'd more desolate
He left me thus—he could not gather heart And, looking round me, now I first observed
To take a farewell of me; for he fear'd

The corner-stones, on either side the porch, That I should follow with my babes, and sink With dull red stains discolourd and stuck o'er Beneath the misery of that wandering life.' With tufts and hairs of wool, as if the sheep

“ This tale did Margaret tell with many tears : That fed upon the common, thither came And, when she ended, I had little power

Familiarly; and found a couchin lace To give her comfort, and was glad to take

Even at her threshold. Deeper shadows fell Such words of hope from her own mouth as served From these tall elms ;-the cottage clock struck To cheer us both :--but long we had not talk'd

eight:Ere we built up a pile of better thoughts

I turn'd, and saw her distant a few steps. And with a brighter eye she look'd around Her face was pale and thin-her figure, too, As if she had been shedding tears of joy.

Was changed. As she unlock'd the door, she said, We parted.—'Twas the time of early spring; * It grieves me you have waited here so long, I left her busy with her garden tools ;

But, in good truth, I've wander'd much of late, And well remember, o'er that fence she look'd, And, sometimes—to my shame I speak-have need And, while I paced along the footway path, Of my best prayers to bring me back again.' Call'd out, and sent a blessing after me,

While on the board she spread our evening meal,

She told me-interrupting not the work

The floor was neither dry nor neat, the hearth Which gave employment to her listless hands- Was comfortless, and her small lot of books, That she had parted with her elder child; Which in the cottage window, heretofore To a kind master on a distant farm

Had been piled up against the corner papes Now happily apprenticed.— I perceive

In seemly order, now, with straggling leaves You look at me, and you have cause ; to-day Lay scatter'd here and there, open or shut, I have been travelling far; and many days As they had chanced to fall. Her infant babe About the fields I wander, knowing this

Had from its mother caught the trick of grief, Only, that what I seek I cannot find;

And sigh'd among its playthings. Once again And so I waste my time : for I am changed ; I turn'd towards the garden gate, and saw, And to myself,' said she, “ have done much wrong More plainly still, that poverty and grief And to this helpless infant. I have slept

Were now come nearer to her: weeds defaced Weeping, and weeping have I waked; my tears The harden'd soil, and knots of wither'd grass : Have flow'd as if my body were not such

No ridges there appear'd of clear, black mould, As others are ; and I could never die.

No winter greenness; of her herbs and flowers, But I am now in mind and in my heart

It seem'd the better part were gnaw'd away More easy, and I hope,' said she, 'that God Or trampled into earth; a chain of straw, Will give me patience to endure the things Which had been twined about the slender stem Which I behold at home.' It would have grieved of a young apple tree, lay at its root, Your very soul to see her ; sir, I feel

The bark was nibbled round by truant sheep. The story linger in my heart; I fear

Margaret stood near, her infant in her arms, 'Tis long and tedious; but my spirit clings And noting that my eye was on the tree, To that poor woman :-so familiarly

She said, I fear it will be dead and gone Do I perceive her manner, and her look

Ere Robert come again.' Towards the house And presence, and so deeply do I feel

Together we return'd; and she inquired
Her goodness, that, not seldom, in my walks If I had any hope :--but for her babe
A momentary trance comes over me;

And for her little orphan boy, she said,
And to myself I seem to muse on one

She had no wish to live, that she must die By sorrow laid asleep :-or borne away,

Of sorrow. Yet I saw the idle Joom A human being destined to awake

Still in its place; his Sunday garments hung To human life, or something very near

Upon the selfsame nail ; bis very staff To human life, when he shall come again

Stood undisturb'd behind the door. And when, For whom she sufler'd. Yes, it would have grieved in bleak December, I retraced this way, Your very soul to see her: evermore

She told me that her little babe was dead, Her eyelids droop'd, her eyes were downward cast; And she was left alone. She now, released And, when she at her table gave me food, From her maternal cares, bad taken up She did not look at me. Her voice was low, Th' employment common through these wilds, and Her body was subdued. In every act

gain's, Pertaining to her house affairs, appear'd

By spinning hemp, a pittance for herself ; The careless stillness of a thinking mind

And for this end had hired a neighbour's boy Self occupied ; to which all outward things To give her needful help. That very time Are like an idle matter. Still she sigh’d,

Most willingly she put her work aside, But yet no motion of the breast was seen,

And walk'd with me along the miry road, No heaving of the heart. While by the tire Heedless how far; and in such piteous sort We sate together, sighs came on my ear,

That any heart had ached to hear her, begg'a I knew not how, and hardly whence they came. That, wheresoe'er I went, I still would ask “ Ere my departure, to her care I gave,

For him whom she had lost. We parted thenFor her son's use, some tokens of regard,

Our final parting; for from that time forth
Which with a look of welcome she received ; Did many seasons pass ere I return'd
And I exhorted her to place her trust

Into this track again.
In God's good love, and seek his help by prayer.

* Nine tedious years ; I took my staff, and when I kiss'd her babe From their first separation, nine long years, The tears stood in her eyes. I left her then She linger'd in unquiet widowhood; With the best hope and comfort I could give ; A wife and widow. Needs must it have been She thank'd me for my wish ;—but for my hope A sore heart-wasting! I have heard, my friend, Methought, she did not thank me.

That in yon arbour oftentimes she sate

“ I returnd, Alone, through half the vacant Sabbath day; And took my rounds along this road again And, if a dog pass'd by, she still would quit Ere on its sunny bank the primrose flower The shade, and look abroad. On this old bench Peep'd forth, to give an earnest of the spring. For hours she sate ; and evermore her eye I found her sad and drooping; she had learn'd Was busy in the distance, shaping things No tidings of her husband; if he lived,

That made her heart beat quick. You see that path She knew not that he lived ; if he were dead, Now faint,--the grass has crept o'er its gray line She knew not he was dead. She seem'd the same There, to and fro, she paced through many a day In person and appearance ; but her house Of the warm summer, from a belt of hemp Bespake a sleepy hand of negligence ;

That girt her waist, spinning the long-drawn threa

With backward steps. Yet ever as there pass'd To fall upon us, while, beneath the trees,
A man whose garments show'd the soldier's red, We sate on that low bench : and now we felt,
Or crippled mendicart in sailor's garb,

Admonish'd thus, the sweet hour coming on.
The little child who sate to turn the wheel A linnet warbled from those lofty elms,
Ceased from his task; and she with faltering voice A thrush sang loud, and other melodies,
Made many a fond inquiry ; and when they, At distance heard, peopled the milder air.
Whose presence gave no comfort, were gone by, The old man rose, and, with a sprightly mien
Her heart was still more sad. And by yon gate, Of hopeful preparation, grasp'd his staff:
That bars the traveller's road, she often stood, Together casting then a farewell look
And when a stranger horseman came, the latch Upon those silent walls, we left the shade ;
Would lift, and in his face look wistfully :

And, ere the stars were visible, had reach'd
Most happy, if, from aught discovered there A village inn,-our evening resting place.
Of tender feeling, she might dare repeat
The same sad question. Meanwhile her poor hut
Sank to decay: for he was gone, whose hand,

BOOK II.
At the first nipping of October frost,
Closed up each chink, and with fresh bands of straw

THE SOLITARY.
Checker'd the green-grown thatch. And so she

ARGUMENT. lived Through the long winter, reckless and alone;

The author describes his travels with the wanderer,

whose character is further illustrated. Morning scene, Until the house by frost, and thaw, and rain,

and view of a village wake. Wanderer's account of Was sapp'd; and while she slept, the nightly damps a friend whom he purposes to visit. View, from an Did chill her breast: and in the stormy day

eminence, of the valley which his friend had choson Her tatter'd clothes were ruffled by the wind; for his retreai. Feelings of the author at the sight of E'en at the side of her own fire. Yet still

it. Sound of singing from below. A funeral proces

sion. Desceni inw the valley. Observations drawn She loved this wretched spot, nor would for worlds

from the wanderer at sight of a book accidentally Hase parted hence: and still that length of road,

discovered in a recess in the valley. Meeting with And this rude bench, one torturing hope endear’d, the wanderer's friend, the solitary. Wanderer's deFast rooted at her heart: and here, my friend, scription of the mode of burial in this inountainous in sickness she remaind; and here she died, district. Solitary contrasts with this, tha! of the in

dividual carried a few ininutes before from the cottage. Last human tenant of these ruin'd walls."

Brief conversation. The collage entered. Description The old man ceased : he saw that I was moved;

of the solitary's apartment.

Kepast there.

View From that low bench, rising instinctively

from the window of two mountain summits and I turn'd aside in weakness, nor had power

the solitary's description of the companionship they To thank him for the tale which he had told.

afford him. Account of the departed inmaie of the I stood, and leaning o'er the garden wall,

collage. Description of a grand spectacle upon the Review'd that woman's sufferings; and it seem'd

mountains, witii its effect upon the solitary's mind

Quit the house.
To comfort me while with a brother's love
I blese'd her in the impotence of grief.

In days of yore how fortunately fared
At length towards the cottage I return'd

The minstrel! wandering on from hall to hall, fondly,-and traced, with interest more mild, Baronial court or royal! cheer'd with gifts That secret spirit of humanity

Munificent, and love, and ladies' praise;
Which, 'mid the calm, oblivious tendencies Now meeting on his road an armed knight,
Of nature, 'mid her plants, and weeds, and flowers, Now resting with a pilgrim by the side
And silent overgrowings, still survived.

Of a clear brook ;-beneath an abbey's roof
The old man, noting this, resumed, and said, One evening sumptuously lodged ; the next
“My friend ! enough to sorrow you have given, Humbly in a religious hospital;
The purposes of wisdom ask no more;

Or with soine merry outlaws of the wood;
Be wise and cheerful; and no longer read

Or haply shrouded in a hermit's cell.
The forms of things with an unworthy eye. Him, sleeping or awake, the robber spared ;
She sleeps in the calm earth, and peace is here. He walk'd-protected from the sword of war
I well remember that those very plumes,

By virtue of that sacred instrument
Those weeds, and the high speargrass on that wall, His harp, suspended at the traveller's side:
By mist and silent rain-drops silver'd o’er, His dear companion wheresoe'er he went
As once I pass'd, did to my heart convey

Opening from land to land an easy way
So still an image of tranquillity,

By melody, and by the charm of verse. So calm and still, and look'd so beautiful

Yet not the noblest of that honour'd race
Amid th' uneasy thoughts which filld my mind, Drew happier, loftier, more impassion'd thoughts
That what we feel of sorrow and despair

From his long journeyings and eventful life,
From ruin and from change, and all the grief Than this obscure itinerant had skill
The passing shows of being leave behind,

To gather, ranging through the tamer ground
Appear'd an idle dream, that could not live Of these our unimaginative days;
Where meditation was. I turn'd away,

Both while he trod the earth in humblest guise And walk'd along my road in happiness.”

Accoutred with his burden and his staft ; He ceased. Ere long the sun declining shot

And now, when free to move with lighter pace. A slant and mellow radiance, which began

What wonder, then, if I, whose favourite school 64

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