Dreams and Realities (4)
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THE MERCHANT AND THE MOURNER.


I lingered at a lordly gate, before a lordly hall
With grove and garden girt around with low and mossy wall,
And from the gate a gravelled path swept gracefully and wide,
Up to the stately steps beneath the pillared door of pride.

Within that princely dwelling-place the Painter's master hand
Had hung the walls with Poesy from many a lovely land:
There soft Italia's sunny vales in quiet semblance smiled,
With mountain, lake, and waterfall, from Switzerland the wild.

And there were books of mental life, in student-like array,
More for the solace of the soul than splendour and display;
And goodly instruments of sound were placed in order there,
And woke to pleasant voice beneath the fingers of the fair.

And mirrors, set in massy gold, shed lustre on the sight,
And lamps of cunning workmanship diffused a mellow light,
And costly carpets clothed the floor, and couches offered ease,
And every fireside comfort met the child of wealth to please.

And in the far-extended grounds triumphant Art had been,
To bring within her proper bounds the wild luxuriant scene;
There built the rook, there sang the bird of homely English
            dyes;
There flowers and fruitage blushed and bloomed, in spite of
            angry skies.

There bowers of shady solitude allured the musing mind,
Sweet spots of sylvan loveliness secure from sun and wind;
And there, reflecting cloud and star, transparent waters lay,
Scarce ruffled by the swan that moved along her silent way.

And he who owned that paradise, the Merchant of renown,
The honoured of the hamlet, and the flattered of the town,
Who duly went to Church and 'Change, and sought the
            shades of woe,
Was, in the spring-tide of his years, among the lowest low.

But kindness entered in his soul, even in his boyish days,
Give him the means of giving peace, he did not wish for
            praise;
The best of human sympathies awoke within his breast,
His words, his deeds, his secret tears, the gentle power
            confessed.

More kindly grew his honest heart to all the human race,
The language of benevolence was written on his face;
With self-denying prudence he, without or fear or guile,
Wooed Fortune in her mazy haunts until she deigned to
            smile.

Wealth came, but did not bring the mien of insolence and
            pride,
Respectful to the powerful, he loved all else beside:
Thus, with his gold and gentleness he blessed the needy
            throng,
A constant guardian to the weak, a pattern to the strong.

At length, to please a polished taste, he bought him house
            and land,
And paid for household luxuries with large and liberal hand;
Sat down in peace and plenitude, with mind unwarped and
            free,
"Like wisdom," so the poet sings, "with children round his
            knee."

I lingered at his lordly gate, the while my feelings rose
In silent homage to the man, and prayed for his repose;
And o'er my mental vision passed a scene remembered
            well,
Linked with a little history, which I essay to tell.

One evening in my wanderings near to our noisy town,
When Autumn breathed upon the woods, and turned their
            foliage brown,
I paused beside a lowly cot that looked upon the road,
Lifted the latch, and stood within the comfortless abode.

I saw beside the fireless earth a woman's well-known form,
Whose haggard features bore the marks of many a bitter
            storm;
The fire of joy, the bloom of health, from eye and cheek were
            fled,
And grief had sown its early grey upon that drooping head.

Her sombre garments hung around her, labour-stained and
            wild,
And on her milkless bosom lay a weak and wailing child;
The cleanly cap of widowhood around her visage pale,
With her decayed and dreary weeds, disclosed too sad a
            tale.

I knew it all:—six months before, in the very prime of spring,
When bird, and bee, and butterfly, were roving on the wing;
When every hue was loveliness, when every sound was mirth,
A sudden cloud and silence fell upon the joyous earth.

Her loving husband, ailing long, with his departing breath
Muttered a blessing on her cheek, and slept the sleep of death;
Gone was the father, firm, though fond, the husband true and
            kind,
But woe, despair, and poverty, alas! remained behind.

His violin hung on the wall, the hat he used to wear,
There in the corner leaned his staff, there stood his vacant
            chair;
His favourite bird yet sang aloft at its capricious will,
And the old Bible that he loved lay in the window still.

But nearly all beside had gone for scanty means of life,
But not without a parting pang of deep and inward strife;
Then, even then, her eldest born dead on the pallet lay;—
Calmly the mother-mourner said, "She died but yesterday."

Dear God! what could that woman do, and all her helpless
            brood,
Within the wide and thoughtless world for shelter and for food?
Who would bestow upon her child a coffin and a grave?—
I prayed within my inmost soul that Heaven would stoop to save!

Startling my thoughts, some gentle hand smote the rude cottage
            door,
And one well known in sorrow's haunts stepped o'er the sanded
            floor;
The merchant's daughter fair and young, by many a heart beloved;
Her father's graceful almoner where'er her footsteps moved.

She gazed around the sad abode with quick and mute surprise,
While precious drops of sympathy suffused her earnest eyes;
She sat her down all pensively, with joy-abandoned air,
And for a moment seemed to breathe her soul in secret prayer.

With unobtrusive questions she drew forth the widow's woe,
While the rich blood upon her cheek went flitting to and fro;
With patient ear, and parted lips, the dark account she heard,
Till the deep fountains of her heart with kindred grief were stirred.

She laid a purse of tinkling gold within the widow's palm,
Rose to depart, and spake again with voice subdued and calm:
"Mourner, the God who gave us wealth has sent his servant here,
Remember, in thy after need, my father's house is near."

She went with blessings on her head, with beauty in her face,
A sister of sweet Charity, a messenger of Grace,
She went in virgin holiness, bent on her pure employ,
Leaving within the mourner's heart peace, thankfulness, and joy.

Like dews and showers in summer hours, shed from the wings
            of night,
Felt as a blessing on the earth when wakes the morning light,
The merchant's bounty fell abroad spontaneous and the same,
Refreshing many a languid soul that wist not whence it came.

When Heaven exalteth such as he, what hand would bring them
            down?
What heart would f et when Worth succeeds, what face at Virtue
            frown?
As well the fields might curse the clouds because they ride so
            high,
Or envious flowers upbraid the stars that burn along the sky,

It is a rare and pleasant task to sing of generous power,
Oh! for a theme so beautiful for every passing hour!
When shall our mournful harps forgot that sad, unheeded song
Of wants and woes, of toils and tears, too truthful and too long?

 

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VINDICATORY STANZAS.

 

Whate'er I am, whatever sign I wear upon my sleeve,
Whatever creed my inmost heart may prompt me to believe
Whatever right I recognize, whatever wrong endure,
I ne'er can yield my honest love for freedom and the poor.

The lowly and the suffering, the life-blood of the earth,
I'm one of them, to one of them I owe my children's birth;
And in my after years of life, however high my state,
I never can forget to plead for their unhappy fate.

For freedom did I say? ah, yes! for freedom just and true,
But not the lawless monster of the rancour-breathing few,
Who glide, like serpents, into hearts by toil and sorrow torn;
On them and their unholy deeds I fling my proudest scorn.

Freedom, whose law is Order, and whose action, wide and strong,
Can raise the wretched from the dust, and quell the rebel throng;
Can weigh, adjust, withhold, bestow, with calm and steady hand,
And work in beauty, peace, and truth, for all within the land!

The poetry of England, in all its forms and hues;
The glowing words, the living thoughts of her transcendent muse;
The poetry that clings around her temples, halls, and towers,
And nestles in the sylvan depths of all her vales and bowers;

The poetry that clothes alike the cottage and the throne,
And speaks from every classic haunt, with high, majestic tone;
These have my deepest reverence, in these my thoughts rejoice;
"But the poetry of poverty should have a fitting voice."

It has a voice, a stirring voice, sent from a thousand tongues,
From hearts that wish for all its rights, and feel for all its wrongs:
'Tis not the voice of fierce complaint, loud insolence and threat,
But that of calm, persuasive power,—the best and surest yet.

And mine, too, feeble though it be, and of a fitful sound,
But still the echo of a soul of sympathies profound,
Shall sometimes mingle with the rest, in pain's or peril's hour,
To warn, cheer, teach, and elevate,—if such may be its power.

Perchance my lay hath ever been unsuited to the ear
Of those who feast on fiery thought, on bitter taunt and jeer;
But I am not of those who deem that words unwise and wild,
Can win one blessing for the poor, and make men reconciled.

A little song of cheerfulness to make their labours light,
A strain to open out their souls, and make them think aright;
A lesson which may lead them on to mend their common weal,
But not the stern anathema of false and factious zeal.

There are who with a puny pride my outward errors scan,
Alas! what little power is theirs to judge the inner man!
They think that my poor yielding heart, that impulse still controls,
Is narrow as their sympathies, and niggard as their souls.

Could they but read the hidden book, the life-book in my breast,
With sorrows, which they never know, a thousand fold impressed,—
Could they but see its sentiments, its yearning, love, and trust,
And weigh its good against the ill, they could not but be just.

But that is not for them, and I dare not presume to claim
More virtues than the lowliest who bear a human name,
But in this world where men applaud, mistake, misjudge, condemn,
I only ask that charity which I would yield to them.

There's good in all things, and 'tis well to seek it everywhere,
And when 'tis found, to honour it, and cherish it with care;
There's good in all the various forms of still and stirring life,
For all the boundless universe with excellence is rife.

And man hath always something good, or be he high or low
In intellect or circumstance, in happiness or woe;
His errors pity and remove, with mild and manly will,
And be his higher gifts your care and admiration still.

My badge is that which singles me from out the lower clay;
My motto, hope and thankfulness for blessings day by day;
My creed, that holy creed of love which Christ himself hath given;
My party, all who walk the earth anticipating Heaven!

 

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CONTRITION.

 

Lord! in a weary labyrinth,
    A wilderness of ways,
I've passed the freshness of my youth,—
    The summer of my days;
Playing with Fancy's bubble thoughts,
    Which as they glittered brake,
Snatching at flowers to feel the thorn,
    Or venom of the snake.

But now I lay me at Thy feet,
    With sad and trembling heart,
Or ere my better feelings fail,
    My higher hopes depart
I come—so late a sinful slave
    In folly's low employ,—
To ask those better means of life
    Which lead to holier joy.

In the calm hour of solitude
    I lift my pensive eye
To read the burning language writ
    Upon the silent sky;
And feel that He who lit the stars
    And bade the planets roll,
Can chase the shadow and the strife
    That linger in my soul.

With sweet and simultaneous voice
    All universal things
Speak of Thy watchful care, and feel
    The shadow of Thy wings;
The placid and prolific earth,
    The ever wakeful sea,
And heaven's serene and starry depths
    Declare Thy love and Thee.

And wilt thou not console me, Lord,
    Admonish me and guide,
In tribulation's troublous time,
    And in the hour of pride?
And wilt thou not vouchsafe, at last,
    By thine own means, to win
Back to thy fold an erring child
    Of frailty, grief, and sin.

Thou canst, and when it seemeth good,
    Thou wilt afford the clue
Whereby to leave the tangled path
    My faltering feet pursue;—
Oh! bring me from the chilling gloom,
    The cavern of despair,
That I may see the open day,
    And breathe a purer air!

Oh! help me in my deepest need,
    My Father, Friend, and Lord!
And make me drink with eager lip
    The waters of Thy word!
So I may rise refreshed and glad,
    Unbowed by earthly ill,
My business and my pleasure both
    To do Thy holy will.

For His dear sake who left Thy side
    A fallen race to save,
To take all agony from death,
    All terror from the grave,
Receive me 'mong the chosen ones
    Who journey towards the sky,
And fit me for that Perfect Home
    Where bliss can never die.

 

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ROUGH NOTES OF A RAMBLER.

 

These notes are extracted from a series of letters which appeared in a provincial periodical some years ago.  Those letters, the Author has since discovered, contained many crude thoughts, some hasty and unjust conclusions, and some misrepresentations, which, though given in ignorance at the time, he regrets having published.  These are the reasons why the whole of the letters have not been transferred to this volume.



REVERENCE FOR THE DEAD: A ROMANTIC THOUGHT.


    Were I in the possession of broad, beautiful lands, and the decrees of Providence bereaved me of some beloved object, I would deposit its dust in some secluded spot, in some quiet and all but inaccessible valley, or in the twilight labyrinths of some forest solitude.  I would build over it a small, simple gothic temple, which I would store with such cherished things as would conjure up remembrances of the worth, intellect, or loveliness of the being I mourned for.  There, at the first wakening of the day, at mid noon, at the hallowed hour of evening, and in the impressive silence of the middle night, would I retire to commune with the departed spirit; not with the violence of impious and unavailing sorrow, but in the calm consciousness that, though our earthly intercourse was cut off by the chasm of the grave, our love was not utterly extinguished, but would be renewed in exalted purity, and in a region where it would exist for ever.  Were the lost one a parent, whose power of mind or goodness of heart had been so beneficially exercised, and so widely extended, as to win the esteem and admiration of the world, then should the world come and render proper homage at the tomb of its benefactor, while I would stand a silent witness of it, sincerity, and bless God that I was the son of a parent so honoured and so beloved.  Were it a child—a young and yet unpolluted child, which Providence, in his wisdom, had taken from me, then should happy children, with whom heaven is peopled, bring offerings of wild flowers wherewith to deck my darling's resting place, and I would watch them, with their tiny hands linked together, look down with puzzled and serious faces on the grassy mould, and wonder why their little brother mortal and former playmate was covered up there, and whether he would come up again, and roam with them as was his wont, through pleasant fields and wood-side haunts all day long.  I would not talk to them of the awful and mysterious coming of death to throw a shadow over their joy; I would not purposely bring tears into those bright eyes which after years might cause to weep too soon and without measure, for assuredly the gladness of children is more pleasing in the sight of God than their sorrow.  Why should such young creatures, whose souls have not been darkened by the wings of sin, whose hearts have not been awakened to a sense of the ills incident to human life, be banished before their time from the little Eden that surrounds them?  No; I would let them laugh, and leap, and sing, according to the impulses of their nature, and love them for his sake whose ashes lay undisturbed beneath their frolic feet.  But were it a wife over whom I had raised a sanctuary for sorrow, then would selfishness enter into my grief.  No rude voice of cold condolence should break the silence of the hallowed spot; no obtrusive eye should gaze within its walls; no profane foot should trample on the sacred sward; no unfeeling multitude desecrate the treasure-house of my buried joys.  That wife might have been nothing to the world, though all the world to me; then how could it partake of my luxury of sorrow?

    To a man in any condition of life, a constant, affectionate, and much enduring woman is the most inestimable blessing which God has given him.  Who may tell the bitter ordeal through which many women have to pass on their journey to the grave?  Who may recount the patience, the privation, the self-denial, the disinterested devotion through good and ill, which a faithful partner feels for a too often unworthy husband?  Her sphere of useful action is certainly limited; but does she not, by her exemplary conduct, enable the object of her love to become more useful than he would otherwise be?  Is he rich—does not her sweet companionship give him a purer relish for the enjoyment of riches?  Is he poor—does not her gentle and enduring affection, and unrepining behaviour, make him less regret his poverty?  Has he difficulties to contend with—does she not arm him to meet them?  And is he intoxicated with success—does she not remind him that he is a man?  She adds to his pleasures; she lightens his distresses; she watches over him, and prays for him in sickness; she rejoices in his health—glories in his honour; and should disgrace overtake him, and he is shunned by all men, she clings to him with a tenacity of love enduring as life.  She is the first to discover his good qualities, and when the world proclaims his faults, she is the last to believe them, and shrining him, as it were, in her heart's core, she worships him with an inward fervour which not even despair can destroy!  She lives for him and his offspring, and for them only; and should it be his sad lot to see her consigned to the grave, he should be the deepest, truest mourner—for if he loved her as she deserved, all other sorrow compared with his would be an insult and a mockery.

 

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A THOUGHT IN COVENTRY.

 

    I have a fancy that clusters of streets, churches, towers, and public buildings, have a much more imposing appearance during the quiet interval of the Sabbath, or when they seem to repose beneath the mellow lustre of a full and cloudless moon, at the dead of night, than at all other times.  Often at the latter hour have I walked along some vast thoroughfare partially lit up with softened glory, partially enveloped in strongly-defined shadows, and dreamed of the romantic cities of proud Spain or delicious Italy.  The illusion has been so complete with me, that I have almost expected to hear the tinkle of some lover's guitar; the song of some enamoured gondolier; or, in turning a dark angle, to encounter the stiletto of some needy desperado.  Perchance imagination would conjure up a picture of love-sick Juliet, stooping from the window of her father's house, and putting aside the luxuriant tendrils of the vine, to hold sweet parlance with the adored Romeo, and when the excess of their love could find, no utterance, the lorn nightingale would break the silence with most plaintive music, as though it were the passionate echo of their own enraptured souls.

    Feelings similar to these possessed me as I took an hour's ramble through the highways and bye-ways of Coventry.  The streets were comparatively a solitude, broken only by the chance footstep of some pedestrian, or the short-lived rattle of some stage coach bound for other towns.  The spires of the two cathedrals, which, after the lapse of centuries, are crumbling to decay, shot up into the blessed sunlight, and stood in grand relief against the deep-blue heavens.  Looking up at the wooden effigy of the much celebrated "Peeping Tom," who, with a face expressive of eager curiosity is peering down the street, I could almost fancy I beheld the beautiful and virtuous Godiva, with her long luxuriant hair streaming, like a veil, over her snowy limbs, riding gently and bashfully along in the performance of her singular but benevolent exploit.

 

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A REFLECTION NEAR KENILWORTH.

 

    When I saw the cottagers standing at their doors, the dames with snowy aprons and mob caps, and the men stripped to their shirt sleeves, enjoying the serenity of the evening, I thought how much more natural it seemed for man to win his bread by the cultivation of the soil, than to earn it amid the unwholesome and immoral atmosphere of overgrown manufactories.  But, then, happy and comfortable as these unsophisticated peasants appeared, there was, doubtless, much suffering behind the scene, many a groan which the world heard not—many a tear which the world would not heed.  After all they have, at least, the blessèd advantage of breathing a pure healthy air.  They are not surrounded by beer-shops and gin-palaces; by gambling-houses; by brothels, and all the inexplicable and corrupting influences of Populous towns.  They are not tainted by the vices, made callous by the every-day miseries, nor subject to the sudden and overwhelming reverses, of the capitals of commerce.  Living in isolated and rural spots, they have few artificial wants, and are, therefore, satisfied with plain, warm clothing, simple and wholesome food, and clean but humble lodging.  If they are less intelligent than their city-bred fellow-mortals—a thing to be lamented—they have the same love of country and kindred; the same affection for parent, or wife, or child; are as capable of honest friendship, and, I will venture to say, possess many of these qualities in a stronger and sincerer degree than the children of that solitude of the heart—the Metropolis of England.  Then, let us respect the tillers of the soil—the followers of the plough—the denizens of fields and woods—the producers of food, and who, though partakers of the pains incident to life, and common to the great human family, might be made by an enlightened and liberal government the happiest portion of the industrious population of my own dignified and beautiful land.

 

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APPROACH TO SHAKESPEARE'S BIRTH-PLACE.

 

    I left the fine, frowning, feudal-looking castle of Warwick, and set out on my way to Stratford-upon-Avon—a place far more sacred to me than the strongholds of ancient misused power.  The country through which I was passing presented every variety of pleasing feature, corn and meadow land, patches of wood, bits of garden, strips of silvery streams, and, lining the roadside, the humble but not despised gorse, clustered thick with its wealth of golden lozenges.  And in that interval of highway between Warwick and Stratford, what snatches of intellectual memory I did enjoy!  I thought of poor Keats, who talks of walking "ankle deep in lilies of the vale;" of Burns, "who learned his trade from every tuneful bough;" of Shelly, who had so pure and passionate a love of nature; of wayward Byron, who, worshipping inanimate loveliness, seemed to despise the most wonderful of God's works—man, forgetting that he himself was one; of gentle and humanizing Leigh Hunt, who gossips so pleasantly about pleasant things of modest Charles Lamb, whose writings savour of a thousand pure feelings of bonhomie and good-will; of Bamford, the Burns, deservedly so called, of Lancashire; of Miller, the basket-maker, whom genius bath brought into the heart of a great city, and where, I dare say, he is less happy than when wandering in the leafy labyrinths of his native Sherwood; of the veteran Bards of "Hope" and "Memory;" of Wordsworth, the philosopher on mountains and by the side of waters, seeing poetry in the humblest thing which God has made; and as the crowning and consummate capital of this splendid pillar-of the inimitable and immortal Shakespear, whose sacred dust had drawn me so many miles from home.

    I came at length in sight of the village of Stratford.  The first glimpse of the church spire, which I knew rose immediately above the grave of the undying one, awakened in me feelings of the newest and most indescribable nature.  The village was unfolding itself feature by feature, from the embraces of a commonwealth of trees that lie on the landscape.  Overcome by the strangeness of my thoughts, I sat down by the side of a milestone, feeling that the spot was, in the eyes of those who have partaken of the richness and prodigality of Shakespear's genius, consecrated and hallowed, and had it not been a violation of common usages, I could most religiously have walked bare-footed to the grave of the Bard of Mankind.

 

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THE GRAVE OF SHAKESPEAR.

 

    On setting my foot on the floor of the sacred edifice—sacred in a double sense—I involuntary uncovered my head, and paused for a moment ere I approached the Poet's grave!  The stone which covers his remains is a plain slab, worn by many feet, and bearing the simple inscription of dates, together with the four lines of his own impressive epitaph.  This stone, however, unassuming though it be, has attracted  the gaze of a greater number of eyes, perhaps, than any sculptured, emblazoned, or Latin-inscribed mausoleum in the world.  The window lets fall no gorgeous hues upon the pavement, yet its light had a dim softness which fully compensated for their absence, giving a befitting religious twilight to the shrine of departed genius.  As I looked upon that narrow spot of earth, I seemed to lose all sense of outward being.  My fancy peopled the solemn and silent aisles of the old church with a gathering crowd of those characters which that gigantic, all-sympathiz-mind had created.  Mournful and mirthful were there, of all sexes, aspects, and conditions.  The wicked and unfortunate monarch—the agonized murderer and his victims—the sternly-sedate wise and the laughter-waking foolish—the ruthless conqueror and the cunning clown—the crafty statesman and the imperious priest—the honest soldier and the faithful follower-the injured queen and the love-sick maiden—the implacable Jew and the despairing Christian—the magician and the beldame—the dainty Ariel and the uncouth Caliban—the real of human life and the spiritual of the imagination—all, all were there!  The type of every vice, the representative of every virtue, the embodiment of every passion, were before me, stalking and jostling, frowning and smiling, weeping and laughing, in one great and tumultuous medley.  The raging of remorse and the singing of innocence—the wailing of sorrow and the outburst of joy—the thunder-boom of war and the sweet voice of peace—the fierce denunciation and the supplicating prayer—the obstreperous shouts of multitudes and the soft melodies of unearthly spirits—arose simultaneously, shaking every rafter of the temple, and making a chorus at once so strange, so awful, so terrible, yet withal so entrancing, that I was compelled, as it were, to hear and see, to wonder at and endure, the vision my own busy fancy had conjured up.

    This splendid dream, however, was in a moment dispersed by a plain, short, anti-poetical specimen of female humanity, attired in a dingy gown, who, touching me on the arm, reminded me of the expected shilling fee.  What a sudden fall for the imagination—from Shakespear to a shilling! from the intellectual and soul-felt impress of an immortal Poet, to the metallic impress of the features of a Guelph!  At that moment I felt as though a cup of nectar had been dashed from my lips, and a dose of verjuice forced down my throat.

    Here I must be permitted to enter my humble protest against the practice of turning God's house into an exhibition room at any price; more especially when its walls contain the precious relics of a Shakespear, a Milton, a Newton, a Franklin, a Howard, or a Watt, or the great and good of any age or clime.  Such relics ought, in common justice, to be the common property of the world, and all who have the desire should be able to visit them without impediment, pecuniary or otherwise.  Such raree-show work is unworthy of a great nation like ours and is the cause of constant reproach from foreigners.  The money exacted is not begrudged by those who visit such places; but the principle is an illiberal one, and the sooner it is abolished the better.

 

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MY LAST SIGH FOR THE PAST.

 

This is a wonderful age in which we live; a high-pressure, matter-of-fact, utilitarian age, which seems as though it would annihilate all poetry, and remove or destroy all the old objects of poetical association.  Huge factories are built in once lovely valleys—tremendous railways stride over plains, and pierce through mountains—narrow and stagnant Canals, which drag their lazy length through the land, become antiquated and almost useless—rivers are contaminated by the refuse of innumerable manufactories—we are whirled over the earth without a chance of distinguishing its features of beauty or grandeur—steam-ploughs are doing away with the plough-boy of our ballads, and fast silencing the sound of the flail—burial-grounds are of a most formal and mathematical cut, where a person is employed to bury his fellow-mortals in quite a business-like way, with as little trouble and as little feeling as suits his convenience—time-honoured ruins are removed as nuisances, and coalpits and brick-fields destroy their whereabouts—even old way-side inns, with their snug nooks, where our forefathers were wont occasionally to forget their toils and cares, are either becoming untenanted or levelled with the earth.  The face of everything, save Heaven, is undergoing a complete change; and though that change is productive of great good to the mass of mankind, yet the poet will not be censured for turning to the past, and sighing for the things that were.  Still the uninvaded skies will be left him, for no human power can rend away their clouds, or trample out their stars.  Some portion of Earth's beauties will remain for him: Spring will bud and blossom; Summer will grow into gorgeous maturity; Autumn will put on his many-tinted mantle, and scatter corn and fruitage over the land; and Winter, sternly-magnificent Winter, will cast his pall upon the slumbering earth, and sing his stormy anthems over it, till the bland breathing of another year shall warn him to depart.  Man's heart will continue to have its feelings and affections, and his soul retain its hopes, visions, and lofty aspirations, woman will be lovely, kind, and Virtuous as heretofore, and children not the less fascinating and joyous.  Then let the Poet despair not, for poetry and the agents which give it birth, can never be exhausted; for they are as indestructible as the universe itself!

 

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AN EVENING IN CONWAY, NORTH WALES.

 

    Let it suffice that I thought the castle of Conway a noble and imposing ruin, well situated and compact.  I was very much interested with it, and could not choose but give a loose to my fancy, and recall the days of its palmy splendour and importance, at the same time rejoicing that the circumstances which called such strongholds into existence had passed away.  I often wonder how it is, that, though we deprecate war in all its forms, and lament its painful results; though we look back to the days of feudal barbarism and bloodshed with feelings of horror, yet we linger at the spots where such things have been, and contemplate with a pleasing and romantic interest the remains of those monuments of misused power which are scattered over the world.  It is not merely the situation and the picturesque beauty of the object that charms us, but its associations; and the more dark and awful its history, the more we love to loiter and meditate within its shattered walls.  Is it that we are glad to see such evils at an end, and that, wishing to gather knowledge and experience by judging of the past, we look upon these crumbling towers as landmarks to guide us through the wild and uncertain labyrinths of bygone ages?  Or is it, being naturally fond of romance, and wishing to escape occasionally from the common-place and unromantic character of our own day, that we turn for relief to the records of the savage and stirring events of distant times?  The purest advocate of universal peace and christianity cannot but gaze with pleasure upon such ruins as Conway and Carnarvon, chiefly for association's sake; but if history had informed us that they were ancient foundries and factories, how many tourists would have stepped out of their way to visit them?  Few indeed.

    After making an entire circuit of the town, and having peeped into various nooks and corners, I sat down on an eminence outside the walls, and taking a survey of the country around me, it presented a picture as beautiful as it was new.  Nor were pleasant sounds wanting to add to the pleasure I felt.  My favourite songster, the lark, had not yet descended to the earth, but poured from upper air a profusion of melody.  My old friend, the throstle, perched on the corner of an ivied tower, sang in the full strength and confidence of his voice.  A company of corn-craiks, with their peculiar monotone, answered each other from the neighbouring fields.  The poor redbreast breathed his plaintive and querulous notes from a blooming hawthorn, and birds of every kind seemed bent upon singing as much as they could, ere the setting of the sun warned them to their nests.  Before me, and in the foreground, lay the town, shut in by its ancient mural girdle, a mass of house tops and chimneys, a church and steeple, and the clustered turrets of its regal castle.  Farther on stretched the country through which I had passed, the highway like a white belt, winding round the base of distant hills till lost to view.  On my right the lovely vale of Conway opened its bosom of wood and waters, and seemed to invite me into its peaceful and picturesque solitudes.  On my left gleamed the silvery river, with its little skiffs going gently down on the receding tide; and farther still, the dazzling deep, in whose waves the sun was just dipping his burning rim, lay quivering like molten gold in splendid contrast to the calm blue skies above it.  Behind me, to complete the circle, stood, in dark and distant grandeur, with splintered and fantastic summits, the frontier mountains of Snowdonia—one of the most beautiful and sublime regions of its kind in Great Britain.  Filled with subdued delight and admiration of the glorious scene, I sat till the sun went down, and every feature became dim and indistinct.  At length almost every sound died away, the flowers began to throw their odours out more profusely, "and in embalmed darkness" I returned to my hostelry for the night.

 

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A STORM, AND A BIT OF HUMAN NATURE.

 

    Up to the time of my leaving Stratford the skies had worn one stainless and unbroken blue, though the air had been close and sultry; but now a light gusty breeze sprung up, which, I felt, betokened a storm.  I had scarcely proceeded a mile when scattered clouds began to form, increasing in magnitude, and deepening in darkness every moment.  In half an hour the whole heavens were covered with a dense rolling mass of clouds piled upon each other, and having that aspect of bronze and blackness which is common to summer storms.  As is usual with me at these times, I felt extremely languid—an oppressive weight lay on my temples, and, to add to my distress, there was not a house within sight.  I have long had a presentiment, a groundless one may be, arising from a nervous temperament, that I should one day be killed by lightning, and though I love to see the awful grandeur of the tempest, I fear it at the same time.  On this occasion, the loneliness of the spot, with not a human being, perhaps, within miles, increased my uneasiness, and I was undecided whether to proceed or return.  When we are in the presence of real or fancied danger, how active is the mind, how vivid the memory, recalling in a single instant the scenes and events of a whole life.  Mine naturally reverted to home, my wife, my children, smiling in happy unconsciousness of my thoughts.  I could see parents, brothers, sisters, friends, seated round the social board, passing cruel jokes, and singing unfeeling songs.  I thought how dreadful it would be to meet my doom there, alone, not an eye to see me fall, not one being whom I loved to be near me at the terrible moment.  While these childish fancies were passing through my mind, visible as pictures to the internal sense, the storm was ripening.  A portentous stillness reigned, broken only by the sound of a distant axe, which came singularly sharp to the ear.  Not the twittering of a bird, not the fluttering of a leaf was to be heard, while the clouds seemed to droop almost to the tree tops with the fire and rain they had gathered.  At length came another gust of wind, which carried the dust along the road in a revolving pillar, and still the heavens were dumb.  I was in a state of acute suspense when some drops of rain began to fall; another breezy sigh passed my ear, a sudden flash met me in the face, and after a brief pause the thunder burst from its lair, when down came the loosened waters in all the savage glory of the storm.  At this moment I heard the sound of wheels behind me—it was the mail.  I hailed it—mounted the box—and enveloping myself in the folds of all oil-cloth, was better able to brave the fury, and watch the progress of the contending elements.

    In company I felt much more at ease, for there is a principle in human nature that makes us dread being alone in the hour of danger; and we can resign ourselves to an awful fate with greater fortitude when we have companions to share the peril and the pain.  How strangely are we linked together; how inexplicably are we influenced by the presence of each other!  Singly, how manifest is our feebleness; brought together, how daring we become.

    The storm continued for upwards of an hour beautifully wild.  The lightning wrapt us about like a fiery garment, and the thunder revelled among the cliffs of Cloudland almost without intermission.  The rain fell with a steady violence, and now and then a gust of wind would whirl it into a thousand misty eddies through the neighbouring valleys.  Gradually, however, the heavens gave their burden to the Earth—strips of blue sky broke forth—the lightning became less frequent and intense—the thunder retired to other regions and muttered at a distance—the rain totally ceased, and ere the fall of twilight, the scene was as verdant, calm, and deliciously cool as could be desired.  The sounds of life were to be heard again; the low of cattle in the fields; the singing of birds to the setting sun;—all attuned the soul to gratitude slid peace, and made it conscious of a renewed, clear, and thoughtful serenity, in perfect harmony with the tranquil aspect of the scene.

 

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A SOUTH OF ENGLAND VILLAGE.

 

    How exceedingly happy, calm, and refreshing appear the irregularly built, but always picturesque villages in the South of England—with their straggling coloured houses—snug hostelries with swing-sign boards, bearing the dim and doubtful semblance of some king's head, red lion, or white hart, waggon and horses, or hare and hounds; and in immediate proximity the jolly blacksmith and farrier's shop, which has been there few know how long.  And then the wide breezy common, having a large pool where flocks of geese lave their snowy plumage, or, ceasing to nibble the short grass, lift up their heads to hiss at the passing pedestrian.  Stand here in the middle of this waste, and feast your eyes around, what a circle of secluded loveliness.  Yonder, on a green sloping eminence, is the dwelling of the respectable and substantial farmer.  What an air of comfort about it!  How neatly yonder portly hay-ricks lift their covered heads! how clean and orderly is the farm-yard, with its barn and outhouses, its strong carts and ploughs, and its shining milk-cans hung on the arms of an old tree!  Look at that orchard which flanks the house, how full of foliage and fruitful promise; and how trim and free from weeds is that bit of garden, gorgeous with summer flowers.

    There are other homesteads scattered promiscuously about, though of an humble kind, but all of them have an air of cleanliness and comfort; and though they owe little to splendid furniture and gaudy decoration, they have ornaments much more beautiful—externally the woodbine and the rose tree—internally, dutiful wives and healthy children, which are the poetry of the poor man's home.  Look to the other side of the common; stretching far into the distance are rich corn fields, fresh green pastures, and waving meadows, lifting their golden faces to receive the light sighs of the summer breeze.  Now let us wander a little farther towards the skirts of the village.  Here is the small old church, with its antique dial, looked up to as an ancient friend by all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood.  Let us enter the simple but solemn pile.  What an impressive silence reigns in its unadorned aisles! what a subdued light falls from its stained windows! how snug and adapted for devotional ease are its polished oaken pews! what an air of grace in the time-tinted banners that droop from its walls.  Now let us loiter among the graves—its quiet burying place.  Behold these scattered and rudely carved headstones, like so many leaves in the book of death.  How many a tale of household sorrow is written in these rude memorials and epitaphs.  Here lies the son of an affectionate father and mother.  What a history of broken hopes is here,—a, boy, a laughing, joyous, rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed, golden-haired boy, perchance, has been suddenly snatched from the adoring sight of his parents, from the domestic circle of which he was the star and the flower, from the dwelling which echoed to the shouts of his sweet and cheerful voice.  Here reposes the maiden of eighteen years.  Does not some youthful lover come in the calm hour of twilight to weep over this grassy mound, and recall the delicious time when he walked with her by the woodsides, or through the green lanes and field-paths, expressing in simple but earnest language the sincere affection of his soul; the hopes and anticipations of a long bright future with her as a companion and a wife?  Here sleeps a mother, and you may tell by the few simple shrubs and flowers which are growing on the spot, how much she has been loved, lamented, and missed.  The lonely husband and the motherless child are mourners here, and we may imagine, but cannot express, the utter desolation of the home she has left, and the hearts which ache for her loss.  Here rests the husband of the widow, and this conjures up a picture even more painful than the last, for the weaker is left to struggle with the bitter vicissitudes of the world.  Here lie others who died in a green old age, who dropped like mellow fruit from the tree of life at the full and proper season.  These were, doubtless, the "village patriarchs," the experienced oracles of the peasantry, the bookless historians of the hamlet, who, sitting under the shadow of an old tree, or beneath the ample fireplace on a winter's evening, were wont to recount with garrulous pride the legends and traditions of past times, the lives and changes of past generations.  How much might be written about the villages of England! what a pleasant book might be made out of their oral histories!

 

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THE POETS.

 

Oh! how deeply I venerate, how passionately I admire the Poets of all ages and climes, from Moses down to the latest light of our own day!  From the first dawn of poetic taste in my mind, the amount of pure enjoyment, and elevating instruction I have received from these, "the living of the earth," makes me grateful to the Power that inspired them, and sent them into the world as the prophets and purifiers of their race.  I would not have blotted out from my memory the thrilling and melodious language, the benevolent and exalted sentiments, and the enchanting pictures which the Poets have given to us, for all the mere wealth and power with which the world could endow me.  How often, in my thoughtful boyhood, have I stolen away from too early and too painful toil; from the miseries and privations of my paternal dwelling, to snatch a brief mental feast from the pages of a Pope, a Prior, a Gay, and more especially a Goldsmith, a Cowper, and a Burns.  How often, in my no less struggling manhood, have I loaded my person with stray volumes of Byron and his illustrious cotemporaries, and taking advantage of the tranquil summer day, gone far into the country, and in the green nook of some favourite wood, become unconscious of all save the beauty of the scene, and the dreams and feelings of the genius whose spirit enthralled me!  How often have I pilfered from myself a few hours of needful rest, and in the awful noon of the dreamy night, detached myself from the world, and on the wings of another's fancy and my own, "soared into the heaven of heavens, and drank empyrean air."  Blessings on the Poets—I love them all!

 

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SNOWDON.

 

    In order to prepare myself for the ascent of Snowdon, I took some rest and refreshment at a modest inn in the vale of Llanberris.  The room in which I was seated was small, clean, and simply furnished; and what I thought was rare in these regions, the table was covered with books, amongst which I found poetry and works of fiction by our best modern authors.  The casement was open, and gave to the eye a perfect and delicious picture—clear, sunny, and varied with all that constitutes beauty in a landscape.  The window was shadowed and festooned by the woodbine and the rose, whose sweets, mingling with those of the wallflower in the garden beneath, came fresh to the sense, and recalled to the memory scenes, thoughts, and feelings of pure and past enjoyments.  The air was silent and sultry, broken only by a snatch of song from the old gardener, or the soothing hum of the desultory bee.  The window view presented a long perspective of grey and inaccessible rocks; mountains streaked with every variety of colour; the blue trans- parent lake, and the one solitary and ruined tower of Dolbadern Castle, with here and there strips of rich, meadow, and clusters of trees.  The whole formed a scene where the harassed mind and stricken heart might hope for renewed peace and happiness, and, inspired by the presence of beauty and wonder, utter songs of thanksgiving to the God of beneficence and power!

    I started at length; taking a rude path, and passing through a cluster of fir-trees, through which a brooklet, issuing from an unseen source, made its devious way.  I continued my journey alone with a buoyant and determined spirit, and though I was not aware but that the ascent might be both difficult and dangerous, I felt a kind of anticipated triumph in overcoming all.  I was glad to be alone; for common-place conversation, or even the mutual communication of exalted thought, under such circumstances, seems to me utterly out of place, preventing the mind from condensing those sensations of admiration and wonder which are awakened by the sublime objects around us.

    With these feelings, I toiled up the steep, frequently pausing to look back upon the world below.  The path, which winds to the summit of the mountain, being composed of loose stones, affords uncertain footing, and cannot be missed by the adventurer, except in misty weather.  As I ascended, the rocks of Llanberris and the neighbouring mountains appeared to be on a level with my feet; the large inn in the vale dwindled to the size of a bird-cage; the castle of Dolbadern, which stands near it, to a mere toy; the lakes which wash its base, to two compact blue mirrors, occasionally spotted with the reflection of white clouds passing over them.  The horizon, expanding at every step I took, presented a multitude of new and interesting objects on every side.  Higher still, and the silence, the intense awful silence of mountain solitudes, broken only by the bleating of sheep, or the reverberating explosions, in the slate quarries, became more and more impressive.  By this time I had reached the most difficult part of the ascent, and weary, panting, and burning with thirst, I sat down on the fragment of a rook, looked wistfully towards the Summit, the highest point of which was yet concealed, and almost despaired of gaining the object of my ambition.  I rallied again; and in a short time I reached a ridge of the mountain where I could look over the tremendous precipices which rise from the pass of Llanberris.  Absolutely fascinated by the grandeur and the danger, I drew near to the verge of the rocks, and felt an almost irresistible desire to look over them; but a sense of faintness coming over me, I fell backwards on the heath and closed my eyes.  After a minute or two, I tore myself away from the spot, and continued my upward way.  Steeper and steeper became the path; wilder and wilder the scene; till the pinnacle of stones raised on the very crown of Snowdon appeared to my view.  Ten minutes more and I was crawling over a narrow ledge three yards wide, and the highest point of land, perhaps, in Great Britain, was gained!

    Enduring an agony of thirst, and having heard of a spring of water being on the top of the mountain, I looked for it some time without success; but observing some appearance of moisture among the gravel, I traced it to its source, and found a deliciously cool and clear well of water, about two spans in breadth, turning up a jet of sand, which sparkled in the sun like grains of gold.  Need I say that I stooped and drank with the most exquisite delight and satisfaction?

    As yet I had scarcely time or inclination, from excessive fatigue, to survey the wonders and beauties which encircled my mountain throne, but taking a sweeping glance round the horizon, and into the valleys beneath my feet, I was spell-bound by the vastness and extent, the glory and grandeur of a scene which is beyond the power of my pen to describe.  The whole was fearfully sublime, and as I reflected on the immense height of my situation; the abrupt and awful chasms that yawned on every side; the lone character and almost unearthly silence of the place, I felt as I never felt before—a sensation of mingled love, wonder, and terror, a deep and inward worship of the Creator who had scattered such mighty evidences of his power.

    On the utmost verge of the horizon could be seen the distant haze of the Scottish coast, the Isle of Man, the map-like surface of the island of Anglesea, a portion of Ireland, the hills of Cumberland, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, a great part of England to the south, and nearly the whole wild and rugged face of the principality.  But the objects that struck me most were centred in the neighbouring region of Snowdonia.  Vast hills on every side, though inferior to their monarch, of the most sublime character; high, peaked, black, and shattered crags, casting their enormous shadows across the vales; strange, savage, and solitary mountain hollows, where winds and waters are only heard, and where the storm revels in all its glory; innumerable lakes turning up their beautiful faces to the sky, and seeming from afar as if their Surfaces were never broken by a ripple; rude fragments of ancient castles perched on elevated promontories, or seated on the banks of rivers; and cultivated uplands speckled with flocks; and whitewashed cottages, altogether formed a picture, or multitude of pictures, which can scarcely be surpassed in any country.  Such, at least, was my impression on the spot, as I audibly recalled a fine stanza from Ebenezer Elliott's "Win Hill:"—


"King of Snowdonia, thou, throned and crowned,
 That reign'st o'er many a stream and many a vale!
 Star-loved, and meteor-sought, and tempest-found!
 Proud centre of a mountain circle, hail!
 The might of man may triumph or may fail,
 But, oldest brother of the air and light,
 Firm shalt thou stand when demi-gods turn pale,
 For thou, ere science dawned on reason's night,

 Wast, and will be when mind shall rule all other might!"


    After an hour on this seat of sublimity—a mere atom of time for the soul's gratification—I took another draught from the mountain spring, and prepared to descend.  My downward journey, though not so toilsome, was sufficiently laborious; and after the expiration of four hours from the commencement of my task, I regained the little inn in the vale of Llanberris, through the length of whose wild pass I made my way back to the village of Capel Cerig.

 

_______________________

 
LEONORE.

 

Oh! for a day of that departed time
    When thou and I, lost Leonore, were young!
That dawn of feeling, that delicious prime
    When Hope sang for us an unceasing song!
When life was love, and love was joy unworn,
    And clouds turned all their silver to our gaze;
When each sweet night brought forth a sweeter morn—
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

Oh! what a world of poesy was ours,
    And poesy with passion undefiled!
Heaven with its stars, and earth with all her flowers,
    Seemed made for us, for us alone they smiled;
Fused in each others dreams, a constant spring,
    One, yet apart, we trod all pleasant ways,
Sat down with Nature, heard her teach and sing,—
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

With thee all beauty wore a lovelier face;
    With thee all grandeur a sublimer mein;
With thee all music was a holier grace;
    With thee all motion ecstacy unseen;
Without thee life was colourless and vain,
    And common pleasure a bewildering maze,
All thought was langour, and all effort vain,—
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

I loved, how well let this worn cheek attest,
    And these sad eyes with fresh tears streaming o'er;
Deep in the hidden chambers of my breast
    The fire burns on, but ne'er to bless me more:—
Oh!   Nevermore! a dreary word that falls
    Like a dread knell that sets the brain acraze,
A word of doom that withers and appals,—
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

We loved, but one with unrelenting power,
    With selfish soul intent on cruel schemes—
Stepped in between us one disastrous hour,
    And swept to ruin all our hopes and dreams;
And we were parted, thou to share the life
    Of the gay crowd that dazzles and betrays,
I to contend with penury and strife,—
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

I see thee as I saw thee "long ago,"
    (A fond, yet fatal time for thee and me),
When with the eloquence of love and woe
    We blessed each other 'neath the alder tree;
The agèd alder, whose umbrageous boughs
    Sigh where our native river sings and plays;
Which heard our earliest and our latest vows,—
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

I see thee as I saw, when, one sweet eve,
    I dared to pour my passion in thine ear,
And thou didst lean to listen and believe,
    With mixed emotions of delight and fear;
I see the quick blush flitting o'er thy cheek,
    And the soft fire of thy confiding gaze,
I feel thy heart in throbbing language speak,—
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

I see thee as I saw thee everywhere,
    In the calm household graceful, quiet, kind,
In the broad sunshine and the breezy air
    Bright as the beam, and buoyant as the wind;
I see thee flushed, and floating like a cloud
    In the gay festival's enchanting maze,
And, lovelier still, in prayer serenely bowed,—
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

Thou wast my earliest Muse: from thee I drew
    My inspiration, which hath found a tongue,
The feeling quickened, germinated, grew,
    Till I was shadowed with a bower of song;
And now men hail and syllable my name,—
    Would thou couldst share the glory and the praise,
Thy love would lift me to a loftier fame,—
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

Art thou of earth, sweet spirit of the past?
    The lost and mourned, the adored, and unforgot!
Hast thou been beaten by Misfortune's blast?
    Or dost thou revel in a brighter lot?
Is there another whom thine eyes approve?
    Is there another whom thy heart obeys?—
Or dost thou sorrow o'er thy blighted love?
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

Art thou of Heaven? and dost thou now behold,
    Stooping, in pity, from thy sainted sphere—
Thy poor, forsaken worshipper of old,
    Despairing, desolate, and darkling here?
I look for thee, I long for thee, I languish
    To press thee, bless thee, ere my life decays;
Still my lorn soul cries after thee with anguish,
    Where art thou, dearest of my early days?

 

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THE POET'S WELCOME.

EXTEMPORE LINES READ AT A LITERARY MEETING IN 1842.

 

    Welcome! ye worshippers of that sweet power,
The sweet mysterious power of Poesy,
That echo of the beautiful in shape,
Sound, hue, and fragrance; that calm voice
Of man's affections, aspirations, dreams;
That strange, impalpable, and blessed thing
Whose home is narrow as the human heart,
And wide as is the universe; that shade
Of God which passes through the mind of man,
And wakes within him thoughts which, wed to words,
Become the thoughts of millions; that pure ray
Sent down from the eternal fount of glory,
A sign and earnest of immortal life
Beyond the dim, dread barriers of Death!
    Welcome! ye lovers of that spellful art
Which few possess, yet thousands can enjoy:
Welcome to this our festival of soul
And heart, where we may interchange the things
Which lie enshrined within us,—mental flowers
Which soon might languish, perish, pass away
Unnoticed of the world, did we not seek
To bring them from their solitudes, and throw
The light of friendship round them, in the hope
That Fame will stoop to gather them ere long,
And weave them into wreaths for her eternal shrines.
    The Poet's soul, bless Heaven, is rife with means
To multiply the pleasures of his race:
His warm heart thrills in sympathy with all
The suffering of the earth.   The great and good
To him are ever glorious, and he yearns
"To throw those feelings out which bear him up"
Against the storms and sorrows of the world!
The scattered sons of humanizing song,
Like twilight stars ought not to reign apart,
As jealous of each other's light; but come
Clustering in one most glorious galaxy
Of mental splendour, as I see ye now!
    Welcome again to this our old retreat,
This corner of antiquity!   This group
Of wilding flowers which open to the night,
Breathing the holy incense of high thought,
May one day send its odours through the world!

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"THE TEMPTATION" AND "THE EXPULSION."

EXTEMPORE LINES SUGGESTED BY DUBUFFE'S PICTURES OF
THAT NAME.

 

    Stranger! wouldst thou be charmed, here stand thee still
And scan that canvas, where the Poet's pen,
The Painter's pencil, and the hues of heaven,
Have made a mimic Paradise.   How fair!
How femininely fair that perfect form
Of gentle Eve!—who, leaning on the ground
In sidelong loveliness, bribes Adam's hand
With the rich fruit of the forbidden tree!
That seraph-face, sweet, yearning, full of love,
With passionate appeal upturned to his,
Might almost tempt an angel form to sin,
Though kindred forms stood by.   Observe thee, too;
The troubled aspect of our human sire:—
Full of a natural dignity and grace—
Is sad with doubts, perplexities and fears,
As trembling 'twixt the evil and the good,
He sits in mute uncertainty.   "Beware!"
For so our busy fancies seem to say—
"Timely beware! nor touch the fatal fruit;
Seal up thine ear against the insidious words
Of her thou lovest, for a pitiless Fiend,
God's enemy and thine, inspires her tongue
With more than mortal eloquence and power.
Gird up thy spirit to resist her plea—
Think on the tenure of thy happy state,
Lest thy infraction of Divine command
Bring sin, tears, ruin, on thy after race!"
    Stranger! thy steps depart not, for behold
The great, dread deed at which the infant earth
Shuddered through all her veins; while angels wept
In unavailing pity—hath drawn down
The long and awful curse.   Oh! what a change
Hath come upon that Eden, which, but now,
Smiled, the abode of purity and joy,
And peaceful compact 'tween all living things.
The elements are up in warfare; clouds
Hang hot and heavy in the troubled air,
Save where a lurid and mysterious light
Streams through the cloven darkness, and reveals
All other horrors of that fearful scene!
Look on our guilty parents, what dismay
And terror in the wild uplifted look
Of our primeval mother, as she lies
Prone, encircled by the eager arms
Of him who shares the peril and the pain!
Half kneeling, with a face of strange distress,
Mixed with compassion, wonder, and despair,
He bends above the bringer of his fate,
As if to shield her from the dread effect
Of God's most just displeasure; while the Fiend,
Exulting in the havoc he hath made,
Askant surveys his victims, breathing flame,
The fire of that interminable hate
Which shut him out eternally from Heaven!
    Thus man's conception and designing hand,
With the sweet aid of many-coloured light,
Have boldly given to our admiring eyes
Twin pictures, vivid, truthful, and sublime;
And as we ponder on the solemn theme
Which gave them birth, involuntary thought
Pays silent tribute to the Painter's power!

 

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TO THE MEMORY OF A DECEASED FRIEND.

 

'Mid the harsh Babel of the busy crowd
A sudden voice my inward spirit bowed,
    A friendly voice, that told me of thy doom;—
That years, and sorrows, and the world's rude strife,
Had pushed thee from the battle-ground of life
    To the oblivious calm that dwelleth in the tomb.

Shade of my friend! although my languid lyre
Withheld the mournful tribute of its fire,
    Not the less dear thy memory to me;
Deep in my heart the solemn feeling lay,
Till the renewed remembrance of to-day
    Came forth in feeble language, all unworthy thee!

Warm was thy soul, without or pride or guile;
Thy liberal hand, thy sympathising smile,
    Were prompt the suffering wretch to cheer and raise:
To God devoted, and to nature true,
Gentle and genial as the summer dew
    Thy silent bounty fell, nor asked for human praise.

And I have marked thy countenance and mien,
Quiet, but kindly—watchful, but serene,
    Govern thy household more by love than fear;
And I have seen thy manly features glow,
And heard thy lips with eloquent speech o'erflow,
    When souls of kindred mood around thy board drew near.

Scorning vain show, thy not untutored mind
Cherished a lofty sense of things refined,
    Things that adorn, and dignify, and bless;
And loving Truth for her sweet sake divine,
That best religion of the heart was thine,
    A yearning evermore to make man's sorrows less.

And thou did'st glory in the poet's song,—
Poet thyself, though nameless mid the throng
    That cheer, charm, elevate the human race;
But now thou hear'st the everlasting hymn,
The harps and voices of the seraphim
    That kneel in radiant ranks before the throne of grace.

If e'er again my vagrant footsteps stray
Along each pleasant and romantic way
    We trod together in the summer glow,
Each form and feature of the varied scene
Will wake sad memories of what hath been,
    And lift my chastened thoughts from transient things below.

In lofty Marsden's cultivated glades,
In lordly Gisborne's proud, patrician shades,
    By gentle Calder's ever-tuneful stream,
On cloud-communing Pendle's barren side,
'Mid Whalley's ruins of monastic pride,
    Fancy will raise thee up, to stir me like a dream.

In grassy Craven's long-withdrawing dales,
In gloomy Gordale, where the storm prevails,
    By Malham's giant cliff and secret wave,
And by that lonely tarn where once we sang,
Till the rough rocks with startled echoes rang,
    Some thought of thee will come, and whisper of the grave.

Friend of my later days! thou sleepest well;
And many a grateful tongue is left to tell
    What gentle thoughts, what generous deeds, were thine;
And in that calm and consecrated spot,
Where thou, forgetting, wilt not be forgot,—
    With thy dear childrens' tears I fain would mingle mine.

_______________________

 
ON THE DEATH OF TWO INFANT CHILDREN.

 

                   Alas for me'
Two bonny buds but newly-blown,
But into winning beauty grown,
From my domestic garden torn,
Have left me feeble and forlorn;
I miss them from my household tree,—
                   Alas for me!

                   Alas for me!
Two lambs, a blessing to behold,
Are taken from their earthly fold,
Mid fairer pasture-fields to roam,
Round the great Shepherd's happier home;
And though I bow submissive knee,
                   Alas for me!

                   Alas for me!
Two jewels rarest of the treasure
Set in my crown of human pleasure,
Are shaken earthward, and each gem
Recalled to God's own diadem,
To shine where sinless seraphs be,—
                   Alas for me!

                   Alas for me!
Two love-beams, sent from heaven to cheer
My lot of storm and darkness here,
Are gathered to the central light
Of climes unknown to death or night;
Would that my own sad soul were free—
                   Alas for me!

                   Alas for thee!
My own, my true, my patient wife,
Dear antidote of care and strife;
Fond mother of my babes that rest
In the mute earth's maternal breast!
What must thy double sorrow be?
                   Alas for thee!

                   But why repine?
Though the cold earth enshrines my dears;
Though moments scarcely count our tears,
A little hope, a little trust,
A little thought beyond the dust,
May fit us for that home of joy,
Where they can never feel annoy,
Where they, perchance, keep watch, and wait
Our coming to that radiant gate
That opens into life divine,—
                   Then why repine?

 

_______________________

 
SABBATH EVENING THOUGHTS.

 

In the calm shadow of this Sabbath night,
    Restraining vicious thought and vain desire,
I sit with sober, but unseen delight,
    In the blythe presence of my flickering fire;
Recall my struggles with the stormy past,
And wonder how my heart withstood the trying blast.

And yet it beats within my quiet breast
    As warmly, not as wildly, as of old;
Perchance a little better for the test
    Of human sorrows, mixed and manifold:
Perchance more fitted to repel or bear
The now familiar stings of poverty and care.

Books are about me, full of glorious things,
    Left by the good and gifted of the earth,—
Pearls shaken, like the dews, from Fancy's wings,
    Burnings of pathos, scintillings of mirth;
And, what is nearer unto Heaven allied,
The Christian's treasure-page, and comforter, and guide!

Beings, how dearly loved! are circled round,
    Talking together in an undertone
Of pleasant voices, lest too rude a sound
    Should wake the dreamer from his musings lone:
While the old cricket in his corner dim,
Pours on my passive ear his undisturbing hymn.

My street bound home is unadorned and small,
    With an accessible and ready door;
No picture smiling on the plaster wall,
    No carpet sleeping on the stony floor;
No graceful garniture, no couch of down,
No rich array of robes to make the envious frown.

But there is food prepared from day to day,
    Won by the energies of hand and brain;
A hard, but grateful bed, whereon to lay
    The limb of labour, and the head of pain:
And peace is with my household morn and night,
While through life's passing clouds love looks with purer
            light.

Beholding others sinking deeper still
    On the rough road of our uncertain life,
Feeble, indeed, though resolute in will,
    Waging with fortune a perpetual strife;
Partly forgetful of my darker days,
My silent soul sends up involuntary praise.

_______________________

 
LINES

WRITTEN IN RHUDDLAN CASTLE, NORTH WALES.

 

Retreat of our fathers, who battled and bled
    Against the unhallowed invasion of Rome,
Who, vanquished by numbers, were scattered and fled
    To find mid these solitudes freedom and home,
Preserving through sorrows and changes untold,
The firmness, the feelings, the language of old.

I come, in the light of the blue summer skies,
    To visit thy beauties wild Cambrian land!
Already thy mountains rise dark on my eyes,
    And blooming before me thy valleys expand;
Thy rude rocks invite me, thy floods as they flow
Allure me to follow wherever they go.

I will muse in thy castles, I'll look from thy hills,
    I'll plunge in the depths of thy forests and vales;
I will climb to thy cataracts, drink at thy rills,
    And list to thy songs and thy stories, old Wales!
I will dream by thy rivers, and proudly explore
Every path which Tradition hath trodden before.

A pilgrim I am, and a pilgrim I've been,
    And a pilgrim I would be while vigour remains,
My fond feet have wandered o'er many a scene,
    But none which surpasses thy mountains and plains;
And I marvel that e'er I could linger to see
A land less enchanting, less glorious than thee,

There are beings I love without coldness or guile,
    There are friends I would cling to whatever betide,
My absence from these may be borne for awhile,
    But the other will mourn me away from their side;
Yet a season will come when my manhood is past,
That will bind me to one little circle at last.

With a feeling of wonder I pause on my way,
    In a ruin where monarchs held splendour and place,
But pleasures await me for many a day,
    In a region of poesy, grandeur, and grace;
For a time I will linger by hill, stream, and glen,
Then back to the common existence of men.


_______________________




JOHN WILLIAMSON, Printer, Ashton-under-Lyne.

 



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