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THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

WILLIAM, EARL OF LONSDALE, K. G. &c. &c.

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THE EXCURSION.

PREFACE.

The Author would not have deemed himself justi

THE Title-page announces that this is only a Portion | allusion, he may be permitted to add, that his minor of a Poem; and the Reader must be here apprised that Pieces, which have been long before the Public, when it belongs to the second part of a long and laborious they shall be properly arranged ;* will be found by the Work, which is to consist of three parts.-The Author attentive Reader to have such connection with the will candidly acknowledge that, if the first of these had main Work as may give them claim to be likened to been completed, and in such a manner as to satisfy the little cells, Oratories, and sepulchral Recesses, orhis own mind, he should have preferred the natural dinarily included in those Edifices. order of publication, and have given that to the world first; but, as the second division of the Work was de-fied in saying, upon this occasion, so much of persigned to refer more to passing events, and to an existing formances either unfinished, or unpublished, if he had state of things, than the others were meant to do, more not thought that the labour bestowed by him upon continuous exertion was naturally bestowed upon it, and what he has heretofore and now laid before the Pubgreater progress made here than in the rest of the lic, entitled him to candid attention for such a statePoem; and as this part does not depend upon the pre- ment as he thinks necessary to throw light upon his ceding, to a degree which will materially injure its own endeavours to please, and he would hope, to benefit his peculiar interest, the Author, complying with the countrymen. Nothing further need be added, than earnest entreaties of some valued Friends, presents the that the first and third parts of The Recluse will confollowing pages to the Public. sist chiefly of meditations in the Author's own Person; and that in the intermediate part (The Excursion) the intervention of Characters speaking is employed, and something of a dramatic form adopted.

It is not the Author's intention formally to announce a system: it was more animating to him to proceed in a different course; and if he shall succeed in conveying to the mind clear thoughts, lively images, and strong feelings, the Reader will have no difficulty in extracting the system for himself. And in the meantime the following passage, taken from the conclusion of the first book of The Recluse, may be acceptable as a kind of Prospectus of the design and scope of the whole Poem.

It may be proper to state whence the Poem, of which The Excursion is a part, derives its Title of THE RECLUSE.-Several years ago, when the Author retired to his native Mountains, with the hope of being enabled to construct a literary Work that might live, it was a reasonable thing that he should take a review of his own Mind, and examine how far Nature and Education had qualified him for such employment. As subsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to record, in Verse, the origin and progress of his own powers, as far as he was acquainted with them. That Work, addressed to a dear Friend, most distinguished for his knowledge and genius, and to whom the Author's Intellect is deeply indebted, has been long finished; and the result of the investigation which gave rise to it was a determination to compose a philosophical Poem, containing views of Man, Nature, and Society; and to be entitled, The Recluse; as having for its principal subject the sensations and opinions of a Poet living in retirement. The preparatory Poem is biographical, and conducts the history of the Author's mind to the point when he was emboldened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured for entering upon the arduous labour which he had proposed to himself; and the two Works have the same kind of relation to each ther, if he may so express himself, as the Ante-chapel has to the body of a Gothic Church. Continuing this

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On Man, on Nature, and on Human Life,
Musing in Solitude, I oft perceive
Fair trains of imagery before me rise,
Accompanied by feelings of delight
Pure, or with no unpleasing sadness mixed;
And I am conscious of affecting thoughts
And dear remembrances, whose presence soothes
Or elevates the Mind, intent to weigh
The good and evil of our mortal state.

To these emotions, whencesoe'er they come,
Whether from breath of outward circumstance,
Or from the Soul- an impulse to herself,

[See Appendix I., p. 641.-H. R.]

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I would give utterance in numerous Verse. !
Of Truth, of Grandeur, Beauty, Love, and Hope -
And melancholy Fear subdued by Faith;

Of blessed consolations in distress;

Of moral strength, and intellectual Power;
Of joy in widest commonalty spread;
Of the individual Mind that keeps her own
Inviolate retirement, subject there

To Conscience only, and the law supreme
Of that Intelligence which governs all;

I sing 'fit audience let me find, though few!'

"So prayed, more gaining than he asked, the Bard,
Holiest of Men, - Urania, I shall need
Thy guidance, or a greater Muse, if such
Descend to earth or dwell in highest heaven!
For I must tread on shadowy ground, must sink
Deep-and, aloft ascending, breathe in worlds
To which the heaven of heavens is but a veil.
All strength-all terror, single or in bands,
That ever was put forth in personal form;
Jehovah with his thunder and the choir
Of shouting Angels, and the empyreal thrones-
I pass them unalarmed. Not Chaos, not
The darkest pit of lowest Erebus,

Nor aught of blinder vacancy-scooped out
By help of dreams, can breed such fear and awe
As fall upon us often when we look
Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man,
My haunt, and the main region of my Song.
-Beauty—a living Presence of the earth,
Surpassing the most fair ideal Forms

Which craft of delicate Spirits hath composed
From earth's materials-waits upon my steps;
Pitches her tents before me as I move,

An hourly neighbour. Paradise, and groves
Elysian, Fortunate Fields - like those of old
Sought in the Atlantic Main, why should they be
A history only of departed things,

Or a mere fiction of what never was?
For the discerning intellect of Man,
When wedded to this goodly universe
In love and holy passion, shall find these
A simple produce of the common day.
-I, long before the blissful hour arrives,
Would chant, in lonely peace, the spousal verse
Of this great consummation; - and, by words
Which speak of nothing more than what we are,
Would I arouse the sensual from their sleep
Of Death, and win the vacant and the vain

To noble raptures; while my voice proclaims
How exquisitely the individual Mind
(And the progressive powers perhaps no less
Of the whole species) to the external World
Is fitted-and how exquisitely, too,
Theme this but little heard of among Men,
The external World is fitted to the Mind;
And the creation (by no lower namne
Can it be called) which they with blended might
Accomplish: this is our high argument.

Such grateful haunts foregoing, if I oft
Must turn elsewhere- to travel near the tribes
And fellowships of men, and see ill sights
Of madding passions mutually inflamed;
Must hear Humanity in fields and groves
Pipe solitary anguish; or must hang
Brooding above the fierce confederate storm
Of sorrow, barricadoed evermore
Within the walls of Cities; may these sounds
Have their authentic comment, that even these
Hearing, I be not downcast or forlorn!
-Descend, prophetic Spirit! that inspirest
The human Soul of universal earth,
Dreaming on things to come; and dost possess
A metropolitan Temple in the hearts
Of mighty Poets; upon me bestow

A gift of genuine insight; that my Song
With star-like virtue in its place may shine;
Shedding benignant influence, — and secure,
Itself, from all malevolent effect

Of those mutations that extend their sway
Throughout the nether sphere! And if with this
I mix more lowly matter; with the thing
Contemplated, describe the Mind and Man
Contemplating, and who, and what he was,
The transitory Being that beheld

This Vision, - when and where, and how he lived ;Be not this labour useless. If such theme

May sort with highest objects, then, dread Power,
Whose gracious favour is the primal source
Of all illumination, may my Life
Express the image of a better time,
More wise desires, and simpler manners;
My heart in genuine freedom :-All pure thoughts
Be with me; -so shall thy unfailing love
Guide and support, and cheer me to the end!"

- nurse

*Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic Soul Of the wide world dreaming on things to come.

SIJAKSPEARE's Sonnets.

THE EXCURSION.

BOOK THE FIRST.

THE WANDERER.

ARGUMENT.

A summer forenoon-The Author reaches a ruined Cottage upon a Common, and there meets with a revered Friend, the Wanderer, of whom he gives an account-The Wanderer, while resting under the shade of the Trees that surround the Cottage, relates the History of its last Inhabitant.

There was he seen upon the Cottage bench,
Recumbent in the shade, as if asleep;
An iron-pointed staff lay at his side.

"T WAS summer, and the sun had mounted high:
Southward the landscape indistinctly glared
Through a pale steam; but all the northern downs,
In clearest air ascending, showed far off
A surface dappled o'er with shadows flung
From brooding clouds; shadows that lay in spots
Determined and unmoved, with steady beams
Of bright and pleasant sunshine interposed;
Pleasant to him who on the soft cool moss
Extends his careless limbs along the front

Afforded to the Figure of the Man

Detained for contemplation or repose,

Of some huge cave, whose rocky ceiling casts

Graceful support; his countenance meanwhile
Was hidden from my view, and he remained
Unrecognised; but, stricken by the sight,

A twilight of its own, an ample shade,

A glad congratulation we exchanged

At such unthought-of meeting. For the night
We parted, nothing willingly; and now
He by appointment waited for me here,
Beneath the shelter of these clustering elms.

Where the Wren warbles; while the dreaming Man, With slackened footsteps I advanced, and soon
Half conscious of the soothing melody,
With side-long eye looks out upon the scene,
By power of that impending covert thrown
To finer distance. Other lot was mine;
Yet with good hope that soon I should obtain
As grateful resting-place, and livelier joy.
Across a bare wide Common I was toiling
With languid steps that by the slippery ground
Were baffled; nor could my weak arm disperse
The host of insects gathering round my face,
And ever with me as I paced along.

Upon that open level stood a Grove,
The wished-for port to which my course was bound.
Taither 1 came, and there, amid the gloom
Spread by a brotherhood of lofty elms,
Appeared a roofless IIut; four naked walls
That stared upon each other! I looked round,
And to my wish and to my hope espied
Him whom I sought; a Man of reverend age,
But stout and hale, for travel unimpaired.

3 U

Him had I marked the day before-alone
And stationed in the public way, with face
Turned toward the sun then setting, while that staff

We were tried Friends: amid a pleasant vale,
In the antique market village where were passed
My school-days, an apartment he had owned,
To which at intervals the Wanderer drew,
And found a kind of home or harbour there.
He loved me; from a swarm of rosy Boys
Singled out me, as he in sport would say,
For my grave looks-too thoughtful for my years,
As I grew up, it was my best delight

To be his chosen Comrade. Many a time,

On holidays, we rambled through the woods:
We sate we walked; he pleased me with report
Of things which he had seen; and often touched
Abstrusest matter, reasonings of the mind,
Turned inward; or at my request would sing
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Yet wanting the accomplishment of Verse
(Which, in the docile season of their youth,
It was denied them to acquire, through lack
Of culture and the inspiring aid of books,
Or haply by a temper too severe,

Or a nice backwardness afraid of shame)
Nor having e'er, as life advanced, been led
By circumstance to take unto the height
The measure of themselves, these favoured Beings,
All but a scattered few, live out their time,
Husbanding that which they possess within,
And go to the grave, unthought of. Strongest minds
Are often those of whom the noisy world
Hears least; cise surely this Man. had not left
His graces unrevealed and unproclaimed.
But, as the mind was filled with inward light,
So not without distinction had he lived,
Beloved and honoured - far as he was known.
And some small portion of his eloquent speech,
And something that may serve to set in view
The feeling pleasures of his loneliness,
His observations, and the thoughts his mind
Had dealt with -I will here record in verse;
Which, if with truth it correspond, and sink
Or rise as venerable Nature leads,
The high and tender Muses shall accept
With gracious smile, deliberately pleased,
And listening Time reward with sacred praise.

Among the hills of Athol he was born;
Where, on a small hereditary Farm,
An unproductive slip of rugged ground,
His Parents, with their numerous Offspring, dwelt;
A virtuous Household, though exceeding poor!
Pure Livers were they all, austere and grave,
And fearing God; the very Children taught
Stern self-respect, a reverence for God's word,
And an habitual piety, maintained
With strictness scarcely known on English ground.

From his sixth year, the Boy of whom I speak,
In summer, tended cattle on the Hills;
But, through the inclement and the perilous days
Of long-continuing winter, he repaired,

Equipped with satchel, to a School, that stood
Sole Building on a mountain's dreary edge,
Remote from view of City spire, or sound
Of Minster clock! From that bleak Tenement
Ile, many an evening, to his distant home
In solitude returning, saw the Hills
Grow larger in the darkness, all alone
Beheld the stars come out above his head,
And travelled through the wood, with no one near
To whom he might confess the things he saw.
So the foundations of his mind were laid.
In such communion, not from terror free,
While yet a Child, and long before his time,
He had perceived the presence and the power
Of greatness; and deep feelings had impressed
Great objects on his mind, with portraiture
And colour so distinct, that on his mind
They lay like substances, and almost seemed
To haunt the bodily sense. He had received

A precious gift; for, as he grew in years,
With these impressions would he still compare
All his remembrances, thoughts, shapes, and forms;
And, being still unsatisfied with aught

Of dimmer character, he thence attained
An active power to fasten images
Upon his brain; and on their pictured lines
Intensely brooded, even till they acquired
The liveliness of dreams. Nor did he fail,
While yet a Child, with a Child's eagerness
Incessantly to turn his ear and eye

On all things which the moving seasons brought
To feed such appetite: nor this alone
Appeased his yearning:- in the after day
Of Boyhood, many an hour in caves forlorn
And 'mid the hollow depths of naked crags
He sate, and even in their fixed lineaments,
Or from the power of a peculiar eye,
Or by creative feeling overborne,

Or by predominance of thought oppressed,
Even in their fixed and steady lineaments
He traced an ebbing and a flowing mind,
Expression ever varying!

Thus informed, He had small need of books; for many a Tale Traditionary, round the mountains hung, And many a Legend, peopling the dark woods, Nourished Imagination in her growth, And gave the Mind that apprehensive power By which she is made quick to recognise The moral properties and scope of things. But eagerly he read, and read again, Whate'er the Minister's old Shelf supplied; The life and death of Martyrs, who sustained, With will inflexible, those fearful pangs Triumphantly displayed in records left Of Persecution, and the Covenant - Times Whose echo rings through Scotland to this hour'

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