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It was the season sweet, of budding leaves,
“There was a stony region in my heart;
—Through four months space the Infant drew its food
From the maternal breast; then scruples rose;
Thoughts, which the rich are free from, came and crossed
The sweet affection. She no more could bear By her offence to lay a twofold weight on a kind parent willing to forget Their slender means; so, to that parent's care frusting her child, she left their common home, And with contented spirit undertook A Foster-Mother's office.
T is, perchance, Unknown to you that in these simple Vales The natural feeling of equality ls by domestic service unimpaired; Yet, though such service be, with us, removed From sense of degradation, not the less The ungentle mind can easily find means To impose severe restraints and laws unjust : Which hapless Ellen now was doomed to feel. —For (blinded by an over-anxious dread Of such excitement and divided thought As with her office would but ill accord) The Pair, whose Infant she was bound to nurse, Forbad her all communion with her own; week after week, the mandate they enforced. —So near!—yet not allowed, upon that sight To fix her eyes—alas!'t was hard to bear! !out worse affliction must be borne—far worse; For "t is Heaven's will—that, after a disease Begun and ended within three days space, ller Child should die; as Ellen now exclaimed, Her own—deserted Child!—once, only once, She saw it in that mortal malady: And, on the burial day, could scarcely gain Permission to attend its obsequies, She reached the house—last of the funeral train; And some One, as she entered, having chanced To urge unthinkingly their prompt departure, Nay, said she, with commanding look, a spirit of anger never seen in her before, 'Nay, ye must wait my time!’ and down she sate, And by the unclosed coffin kept her seat Weeping and looking, looking on and weeping, Upon the last sweet slumber of her Child, Until at length her soul was satisfied.
a You see the Infant's Grave;—and to this Spot, The Mother, oft as she was sent abroad, And whatsoe'er the errand, urged her steps: Hither she came; and here she stood, or knelt In the broad day—a rueful Magdalene! So call her; for not only she bewailed A Mother's loss, but mourned in bitterness Her own transgression; Penitent sincere As ever raised to Heaven a streaming eye. — At length the Parents of the Foster-child, Noting that in despite of their commands She still renewed and could not but renew Those visitations, ceased to send her forth; Or, to the garden's narrow bounds, confined. I failed not to remind them that they erred; For holy Nature might not thus be crossed, Thus wronged in woman's breast : in vain I pleaded– But the green stalk of Ellen's life was snapped, And the flower drooped; as every eye could see, It hung its head in mortal languishment. —Aided by this appearance, I at length Prevailed; and, from those bonds released, she went Home to her mother's house. The Youth was fled; The rash Betrayer could not face the shame Or sorrow which his senseless guilt had caused; And little would his presence, or proof given Of a relenting soul, have now availed; For, like a shadow, he was passed away From Ellen's thoughts; had perished to her mind For all concerns of fear, or hope, or love, Save only those which to their common shame, And to his moral being appertained: Hope from that quarter would, I know, have brought A heavenly comfort; there she recognised An unrelaxing bond, a mutual need; There, and, as seemed, there only.—She had built, Her fond maternal Heart had built, a Nest, In blindness all too near the river's edge; That Work a summer flood with hasty swell Had swept away; and now her Spirit longed For its last flight to Heaven's security. —The bodily frame was wasted day by day; Meanwhile, relinquishing all other cares, Her mind she strictly tutored to find peace And pleasure in endurance. Much she thought, And much she read; and brooded feelingly Upon her own unworthiness.--To me, As to a spiritual comforter and friend, Iler heart she opened; and no pains were spared To mitigate, as gently as I could, The sting of self-reproach, with healing words. —Meek Saint! through patience glorified on earth! In whom, as by her lonely hearth she sate, The ghastly face of cold decay put on A sun-like beauty, and appeared divine! May I not mention—that, within those walls, In due observance of her pious wish, The Congregation joined with me in prayer For her Soul's good? Nor was that office vain. —Much did she suffer: but, if any Friend, Beholding her condition, at the sight Gave way to words of pity or complaint, She stilled then with a prompt reproof, and said, “He who afflicts me knows what I can bear; And, when I fail, and can endure no more,
Will mercifully take me to himself.'
The Vicar ceased; and downcast looks made known That Each had listened with his in most heart. For me, the emotion scarcely was less strong Or less benign than that which I had felt When, seated near my venerable Friend, Beneath those shady elms, from him I heard The story that retraced the slow decline Of Margaret sinking on the lonely Heath, With the neglected House to which she clung. —I noted that the Solitary's cheek Confessed the Power of nature.—Pleased though sad, More pleased than sad, the grey-haired Wanderer sate; Thanks to his pure imaginative soul Capacious and serene, his blameless life, His knowledge, wisdom, love of truth, and love Of human kind He was it who first broke The pensive silence, saying, a blest are they Whose sorrow rather is to suffer wrong Than to do wrong, although themselves have erred. This Tale gives proof that Heaven most gently deals With such, in their affliction.—Ellen's fate, Her tender spirit, and her contrite heart, Call to my mind dark hints which I have heard of One who died within this Vale, by doom Heavier, as his offence was heavier far. Where, Sir, I pray you, where are laid the bones Of Wilfred Armathwaite on-The Vicar answered, « In that green nook, close by the Church-yard wall, Beneath yon hawthorn, planted by myself In memory and for warning, and in sign Of sweetness where dire anguish had been known, Of reconcilement after deep offence, There doth he rest.—No theme his fate supplies For the smooth glowings of the indulgent world; Nor need the windings of his devious course Be here retraced;—enough that, by mishap And venial error, robbed of competence, And her obsequious shadow, peace of mind, He craved a substitute in troubled joy; Against his conscience rose in arms, and, braving Divine displeasure, broke the marriage-vow. That which he had been weak enough to do Was misery in remembrance; he was stung, Stung by his inward thoughts, and by the smiles Of Wife and Children stung to agony. Wretched at home, he gained no peace abroad; Ranged through the mountains, slept upon the earth, Asked comfort of the open air, and found No quiet in the darkness of the night, No pleasure in the beauty of the day. His flock he slighted: his paternal fields Became a clog to him, whose spirit wished To sly, but whither? And this gracious Church, That wears a look so full of peace, and hope, And love, benignant Mother of the Vale, How fair amid her brood of Cottages! She was to him a sickness and reproach. l Much to the last remained unknown : but this ls sure, that through renorse and grief he died;
Though pitied among Men, absolved by God,
• Here rests a Mother. But from her I turn And from her Grave.—Behold—upon that Ridge, That, stretching boldly from the mountain side, Carries into the centre of the Vale Its rocks and woods—the Cottage where she dwelt And where yet dwells her faithful Partner, left (Full eight years past) the solitary prop of many helpless Children. I begin With words that might be prelude to a Tale Of sorrow and dejection; but I feel No sadness, when I think of what mine eyes See daily in that happy Family. –Bright Garland form they for the pensive brow Of their undrooping Father's widowhood, Those six fair Daughters, budding yet—not one, Not one of all the band, a full-blown Flower! Depressed, and desolate of soul, as once That Father was, and filled with anxious fear, Now, by expericnce taught, he stands assured, That God, who takes away, yet takes not half Of what he seems to take; or gives it back, Not to our prayer, but far beyond our prayer; Ile gives it—the boon produce of a soil Which our endeavours have refused to till, And Hope hath never watered. The Abode, Whose grateful Owner can attest these truths, Even were the object nearer to our sight, would seem in no distinction to surpass The rudest habitations. Ye might think That it had spruns; self-raised from earth, or grown
| Out of the living rock, to be adorned
by Nature only; but, if thither led,
| More keen and prouder daring: yet hath she,
Within the garden, like the rest, a bed
—these, and whatever else the garden bears
Impression of these Narratives upon the Author's mind —Pastor invited to give account of certain Graves that lie apart—Clergyman and his Family—Fortunate influence of change of situation–Activity in extreme old age—Another Clergyman, a character of resolute Virtue—Lamentations over mis-directed applause— Instance of less exalted excellence in a deaf man– Elevated character of a blind man—Reflection upon Blindness—Interrupted by a Peasant who passes— his animal cheerfulness and careless vivacity—lle occasions a digression on the fall of beautiful and interesting Trees—A female Infant's Grave—Joy at her Birth–Sorrow at her Departure—A youthful Peasant —his patriotic enthusiasm—distinguished qualities and untimely Death—Exultation of the Wanderer, as a patriot, in this Picture–Solitary how affected— Monument of a Knight—Traditions coucerning him
—Peroration of the Wanderer on the uransitoriness of things and the revolutions of society—Hints at his
own past Calling–Thanks the Pastor.
THE CHURCH-YARD AMONG THE MOUNTAINS. conti NUrd.
While thus from theme to theme the Historian passed,
Of the time-hallowed minstrelsy) required
«These grassy heaps lie amicably close,” Said I, a like surges heaving in the wind Upon the surface of a mountain pool; —Whence comes it then, that yonder we behold Five graves, and only five, that rise together Unsociably sequestered, and encroaching On the smooth play-ground of the Village school?"
The Vicar answered. “No disdainful pride In them who rest beneath, nor any course Of strange or tragic accident, hath helped To place those llillocks in that lonely guise. —Once more look forth, and follow with your sight The length of road that from yon mountain's base Through bare enclosures stretches, till its line Is lost within a little tuft of trees,< Then, reappearing in a moment, quits The cultured fields,-and up the heathy waste, Mounts, as you see, in mazes serpentine, Towards an easy outlet of the Vale. —That little shady spot, that sylvan tuft, By which the road is hidden, also hides A Cottage from our view, though I discern, (Ye scarcely can) amid its sheltering trees, The smokeless chimney-top.–All unembowered And naked stood that lowly Parsonage (For such in truth it is, and appertains To a small Chapel in the Vale beyond) When hither came its last Inhabitant.
* Rough and forbidding were the choicest roads By which our Northern wilds could then be crossed; And into most of these secluded Wales Was no access for wain, heavy, or light. So, at his Dwelling-place the Priest arrived With store of household goods, in panniers slung On sturdy horses graced with jiugling bells, And on the back of more ignoble beast; That, with like burthen of effects most prized Or easiest carried, closed the motley train. Young was 1 then, a school-boy of eight years: But still, methinks, I see them as they passed In order, drawing towrds their wished-for home. -Rocked by the motion of a trusty Ass Two ruddy Children hung, a well-poised freight, Each in his basket nodding drowsily; Their bonnets, I remember, wreathed with slowers, Which told it was the pleasant mouth of June; And, close behind, the comely Matron rode, A Woman of soft speech and gracious smile, And with a Lady's mien.—From far they camc, Even from Northumbrian hills; yet theirs had been A merry journey—rich in pastime—cheered By music, prank, and laughter-stirring jest; And freak put on, and arch word dropped—to swell
The cloud of fancy and uncouth surmise
—“Whence do they come? and with what errand
charged? Belong they to the fortune-telling Tribe Who pitch their Tents beneath the green-wood Tree? Or are they Strollers, furnished to enact Fair Rosamond, and the Children of the Wood, And, by that whiskered Tabby's aid, set forth The lucky venture of sage Whittington, When the next Village hears the Show announced By blast of trumpet? Plenteous was the growth
Of such conjectures, overheard; or seen
On many a staring countenance pourtrayed
• A Priest he was by function; but his course From his youth up, and high as manhood's noon, (The hour of life to which he then was brought) Had been irregular, I might say, wild; By books unsteadied, by his pastoral care Too little checked. An active, ardent mind; A fancy pregnant with resource and scheme To cheat the sadness of a rainy day: Hands apt for all ingenious arts and games; A generous spirit, and a body strong To cope with stoutest Champions of the bowl; Had earned for him sure welcome, and the rights Of a prized Visitant; in the jolly hall Of country Squire; or at the statelier board Of Duke or Earl, from scenes of courtly pomp. Withdrawn, to while away the summer hours In condescension among rural guests.
• With these high Comrades he had reveiled long, Frolicked industriously, a simple Clerk By hopes of coming patronage beguiled Till the heart sickened. So each loftier aim Abandoning and all his showy Friends, For a life's stay, though slender yet assured, He turned to this secluded Chapelry; That had been offered to his doubtful choice By an unthought of Patron. Eleak and bare They found the Cottage, their allotted home; Naked without, and rude within; a spot With which the scantily-provided Cure Not long had been endowed: and far remote The Chapel stood, divided from that House $y an unpeopled tract of mountain waste. —Yet cause was none, whate'er regret might hang On his own mind, to quarrel with the choice Or the necessity that fixed him here; Apart from old temptations, and constrained
To punctual labour in his sacred charge.
—These pleasing works the Housewife's skill produced:
Meanwhile, the unsedentary Master's hand
And still his harsher passions kept their hold,
“Our very first in eminence of years This old Man stood, the Patriarch of the Wale! And, to his unmolested mansion, Death Had never come, through space of forty years; Sparing both old and young in that Abode. Suddenly then they disappeared: not twice Had summer scorched the fields; not twice had fallen, On those high Peaks, the first autumnal snow, Before the greedy visiting was closed, And the long-privileged House left empty-swept As by a plague: yet no rapacious plague Had been among them; all was gentle deatlı, One after one, with intervals of peace. —A happy consummation! an accord Sweet, perfect, to be wished for! save that here was something which to mortal sense might sound Like harshness, that the old grey-headed Sire, The oldest, he was taken last,-survived When the meek Partner of his age, his Son, His Daughter, and that late and high-prized gift, His little smiling Grandchild, were no more.
“All gone, all vanished! he deprived and bare, How will he face the remnant of his life? what will become of him: we said, and mused In sad conjectures—“Shall we meet him now Haunting with rod and line the craggy brooks? Or shall we overhear him, as we pass, Striving to entertain the lonely hours With music? (for he had not ceased to touch The harp or viol which himself had framed, For their sweet purposes, with perfect skill.) “What titles will he keep? will he remain Musician, Gardener, Builder, Mechanist, A Planter, and a rearer from the Seed A Man of hope and forward-looking mind Even to the last!"—Such was he, unsubdued. But Heaven was gracious; yet a little while,