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And that frail Child of thirsty clay,
Of whom I sing this rustic lay,
Could tell with self-dissatisfaction
Quaint stories of the Bird's attraction!*
Well! that is past and in despite
Of open door and shining light.
And now the Conqueror essays
The long ascent of Dunmail-raise;
And with his Team is gentle here
As when he clomb from Rydal Mere;
His whip they do not dread - his voice
They only hear it to rejoice.
To stand or go is at their pleasure
Their efforts and their time they measure
By generous pride within the `breast;
And, while they strain, and while they rest,
He thus pursues his thoughts at leisure.
Now am I fairly safe to-night
And never was my heart more light.
I trespassed lately worse than ever-
But Heaven will bless a good endeavour;
And, to my soul's delight, I find
The Evil One is left behind.
Yes, let my master fume and fret,
Here am I with my Horses yet!
My jolly Team, he finds that ye
Will work for nobody but me!
Good proof of this the Country gained,
One day, when ye were vexed and strained
Entrusted to another's care,
And forced unworthy stripes to bear.
Here was it on this rugged spot
Which now, contented with our lot,
We climb that, piteously abused,
Ye plunged in anger and confused:
As chance would have it, passing by
I saw you in your jeopardy:
A word from me was like a charm-
The ranks were taken with one mind;
And your huge burthen, safe from harm,
Moved like a vessel in the wind!
Is to be seen a lurid light,
Above Helm-crag*—a streak half dead,
A burning of portentous red;
And near that lurid light, full well
The ASTROLOGER, sage Sidrophel,
Where at his desk and book he sits,
Puzzling on high his curious wits;
He whose domain is held in common
With no one but the ANCIENT WOMAN,
Cowering beside her rifted cell;
As if intent on magic spell;-
Dread pair, that, spite of wind and weather,
Still sit upon Helm-crag together!
The ASTROLOGER was not unseen
By solitary Benjamin:
But total darkness came anon,
And he and every thing was gone.
And suddenly a ruffling breeze,
(That would have sounded through the trees
Had aught of sylvan growth been there)
Was felt throughout the region bare:
The rain rushed down the road was battered,
As with the force of billows shattered;
The horses are dismayed, nor know
Whether they should stand or go;
And Benjamin is groping near them,
Sees nothing, and can scarely hear them.
He is astounded, wonder not,
With such a charge in such a spot;
Astounded in the mountain gap
IF Wytheburn's modest House of Prayer,
As lowly as the lowliest Dwelling,
Had, with its belfry's humble stock,
A little pair that hang in air,
Been mistress also of a Clock,
(And one, too, not in crazy plight)
Twelve strokes that Clock would have been tel.ing
Under the brow of old Helvellyn —
Its bead-roll of midnight,
Then, when the Hero of my tale
Was passing by, and down the vale
(The vale now silent, hushed I ween
As if a storm had never been)
Proceeding with an easy mind;
While he, who had been left behind,
Intent to use his utmost haste,
Gained ground upon the Waggon fast,
And gives another lusty cheer;
For spite of rumbling of the wheels,
A welcome greeting he can hear;-
It is a fiddle in its glee
Dinning from the CHERRY TREE!
"This," cries the Sailor, "a Third-rate is Stand back, and you shall see her gratis! This was the Flag-Ship at the Nile,
The Vanguard you may smirk and smile,
But, pretty Maid, if you look near,
You'll find you've much in little here!
A nobler Ship did never swim,
And you shall see her in full trim:
I'll set, my Friends, to do you honour,
Set every inch of sail upon her."
So said, so done; and masts, sails, yards,
He names them all; and interlards
His speech with uncouth terms of art,
Accomplished in the Showman's part;
And then as from a sudden check,
Cries out""Tis there, the Quarter-deck
*At the close of each strathspey, or jig, a particular note from the fiddle summons the Rustic to the agreeable duty of saluting
On which brave Admiral Nelson stood
A sight that wo`ld have roused your blood!
One eye he had which, bright as ten,
Burnt like a file among his men;
Let this be Lana and that be Sea,
Here lay the French - and thus came we!"
Hushed was by this le fiddle's sound,
The Dancers were gathered round,
And, such the stillness of the house,
You might have heard a nibbling mouse;
While, borrowing helps where'er he may,
The Sailor through the story runs
Of Ships to Ships and guns to guns;
And does his utmost to display
The dismal conflict, and the might
And terror of that wondrous night!
"A Bowl, a Bowl of double measure,"
Cries Benjamin, "a draught of length,
To Nelson, England's pride and treasure,
Her bulwark and her tower of strength!
When Benjamin had seized the bow',
The Mastiff from beneath: the Waggon,
Where he lay, watchful as a dragɔr,
Rattled his chain- 't was all in vain,
For Benjamin, triumphant soul!
He heard the monitory growl;
Heard and in opposition quaffed
A deep, determined, desperate draught!
Nor did the battered Tar forget,
Or flinch from what he deemed his debt:
Then, like a hero crowned with laurel,
Back to her place the ship he led;
Wheeled her back in full apparel;
And so, flag flying at mast-head,
Re-yoked her to the Ass; anon,
Cries Benjamin, "We must be gone."
Thus, after two hours' hearty stay,
Again behold them on their way!
RIGHT gladly had the horses stirred,
When they the wished-for greeting heard,
The whip's loud notice from the door,
That they were free to move once more.
You think, these doings must have bred
In them disheartening doubts and dread;
No, not a horse of all the eight,
Although it be a moonless night,
Fears either for himself or freight;
For this they know (and let it hide,
In part, the offences of their Guide)
That Benjamin, with clouded brains,
Is worth the best with all their pains;
And, if they had a prayer to make,
The prayer would be that they may take
With him whatever comes in course,
The better fortune or the worse;
That no one else may have business near them,
And, drunk or sober, he may steer them.
So, forth in dauntless mood they fare, And with them goes the guardian pair.
Now, heroes, for the true commotion, The triumph of your late devotion! Can aught on earth impede delight, Still mounting to a higher height; And higher still-a greedy flight! Can any low-born care pursue her, Can any mortal clog come to her? No notion have they-not a thought, That is from joyless regions brought! And, while they coast the silent lake, Their inspiration I partake; Share their empyreal spirits-yea, With their enraptured vision, seeO fancy what a jubilee!
What shifting pictures-clad in gleams
Of colour bright as feverish dreams!
Earth, spangled sky, and lake serene,
Involved and restless all -a scene
Pregnant with mutual exaltation,
Rich change, and multiplied creation!
This sight to me the Muse imparts;
And then, what kindness in their hearts!
What tears of rapture, what vow-making,
Profound entreaties, and hand-shaking!
What solemn, vacant, interlacing,
As if they'd fall asleep embracing!
Then, in the turbulence of glce,
And in the excess of amity,
Says Benjamin, "That ass of thine,
He spoils thy sport, and hinders mine:
If he were tethered to the Waggon,
He'd drag as well what he is dragging;
And we, as brother should with brother,
Might trudge it alongside each other!"
Forthwith, obedient to command, The horses made a quiet stand; And to the Waggon's skirts was tied The Creature, by the Mastiff's side, (The Mastiff not well pleased to be So very near such company.) This new arrangement made, the Wain Through the still night proceeds again; No Moon hath risen her light to lend; But indistinctly may be kenned The VANGUARD, following close behind, Sails spread, as if to catch the wind!
"Thy Wife and Child are snug and warm, Thy Ship will travel without harm;
I like," said Benjamin, "her shape and stature:
And this of mine-this bulky Creature
Of which I have the steering - this,
Seen fairly, is not much amiss!
We want your streamers, Friend, you know;
But, altogether, as we go,
We make a kind of handsome show!
Among these hills, from first to last,
We've weathered many a furious blast;
Hard passage forcing on, with head
Against the storm, and canvas spread.
I hate a boaster-but to thee
Will say 't, who knowest both land and sea,
The unluckiest Hulk that sails the brine
Is hardly worse beset than mine
When cross winds on her quarter beat;
And, fairly lifted from my feet,
I stagger onward-Heaven knows how
But not so pleasantly as now
Poor Pilot I, by snows confounded,
And many a foundrous pit surrounded!
Yet here we are, by night and day
Grinding through rough and smooth our way,
Through foul and fair our task fulfilling;
And long shall be so yet-God willing!'
"Ay," said the Tar, "through fair and foulBut save us from yon screeching Owl!" That instant was begun a fray
Which called their thoughts another way:
The Mastiff, ill-conditioned carl!
What must he do but growl and snarl,
Still more and more dissatisfied
With the meek comrade at his side!
Till, not incensed though put to proof,
The Ass, uplifting a hind hoof,
Salutes the Mastiff on the head;
And so were better manners bred,
And all was calmed and quieted.
"Yon Screech-Owl," says the Sailor, turning Back to his former cause of mourning, "Yon Owl!-pray God that all be well! 'Tis worse than any funeral bell; As sure as I've the gift of sight, We shall be meeting Ghosts to-night!" -Said Benjamin, "This whip shall lay A thousand, if they cross our way. I know that Wanton's noisy station, I know him and his occupation; The jolly Bird hath learned his cheer On the banks of Windermere ; Where a tribe of them make merry, Mocking the Man that keeps the Ferry; Hallooing from an open throat, Like Travellers shouting for a Boat. -The tricks he learned at Windermere This vagrant Owl is playing here
That is the worst of his employment: He's in the height of his enjoyment!
This explanation stilled the alarm,
Cured the foreboder like a charm ;
This, and the manner, and the voice,
Summoned the Sailor to rejoice;
His heart is up- he fears no evil
From life or death, from man or devil;
He wheeled-and, making many stops,
Brandished his crutch against the mountain tops;
And, while he talked of blows and scars,
Benjamin, among the stars,
Beheld a dancing-and a glancing;
Such retreating and advancing
As, I ween, was never seen
In bloodiest battle since the days of Mars!
Thus they, with freaks of proud delight,
Beguile the remnant of the night;
And many a snatch of jovial song
Regales them as they wind along.
While to the music, from on high,
The echoes make a glad reply.—
But the sage Muse the revel heeds
No farther than her story needs;
Nor will she servilely attend
The loitering journey to its end.
-Blithe Spirits of her own impel
The Muse, who scents the morning air,
To take of this transported Pair
A brief and unreproved farewell;
To quit the slow-paced Waggon's side,
And wander down yon hawthorn dell,
With murmuring Greta for her guide.
-There doth she ken the awful form
Of Raven-crag-black as the storm-
Glimmering through the twilight pale;
And Gimmer-crag*, his tall twin brother,
Each peering forth to meet the other:-
And, while she roves through St. John's Vale,
Along the smooth unpathwayed plain,
By sheep-track or through cottage lane,
Where no disturbance comes to intrude
Upon the pensive solitude,
Her unsuspecting eye, perchance,
With the rude Shepherd's favoured glance,
Beholds the Faeries in array,