Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

necessary to throw light upon his endeavours to please, PREFACE.

and he would hope, to benefit his countrymen.--Nothing further need be added, than that the first and third parts of the Recluse will consist chiefly of medita

tions in the Author's own Person; and that in the interThe Title announces that this is only a Portion of mediate part (The Excursion ) the intervention of a Poem; and the Reader must be here apprised that it Characters speaking is employed, and something of a belongs to the second part of a long and laborious dramatic form adopted. Work, which is to consist of three parts. - The Author will candidly acknowledge that, if the first of these bad It is not the Author's intention formally to announce been completed, and in such a manner as to satisfy his a system : it was more animating to him to proceed in own mind, he should have preferred the natural order a different course; and if he shall succeed in conveying of publication, and have given that to the World first; to the mind clear thoughts, lively images, and strong but, as the second division of the work was designed to feelings, the Reader will have no difficulty in extracting refer more to passing events, and to an existing state of the system for himself. And in the mean time the things, than the others were meant to do, more conti- following passage, taken from the conclusion of the nuous exertion was naturally bestowed upon it, and first book of the Recluse, may be aeceptable as a kind greater progress made here than in the rest of the of Prospectus of the design and scope of the whole Poem; and as this part does not depend upon the

Poem.

preceding, to a degree which will materially injure its own peculiar interest, the Author, complying with the

« On Man, on nature, and on Human Life carnest entreaties of some valued Friends, presents the Musing in Solitude, I oft perceive following Pages to the Public.

Fair trains of imagery before me rise,

Accompanied by feelings of delight It may be proper to state whence the Poem, of which Pure, or with no unpleasing sadness mixed ; The Excursion is a piri, derives its Title of The RECLUSE. And I am conscious of affecting thoughts -Several years ago, when the Author retired to his And dear remembrances, whose presence soothes native Mountains, with the hope of being enabled to Or elevates the Mind, intent to weigh construct a literary Work that might live, it was a The good and evil of our mortal state. reasonable thing that he should take a review of his –To these emotions, whencesoe'er they come, owa Mind, and examine how far Nature and Education whether from breath of outward circumstance, bad qualified him for such employment. As subsidiary or from the Soul-an impulse to herself, to this preparation, he undertook to record, in Verse,

would give uttrance in numerous Verse. the origin and progress of his owo powers, as far as he Of Truth, of Grandeur, Beauty, Love, and Hopewas acquainted with them. That Work, addressed to And melancholy Fear subdued by Faith ; a dear friend, most distinguished for liis knowledge of blessed consolations in distress; and genius, and to whom the Author's Intellect is of moral strength, and intellectual Power ; deeply indebted, has been long finished; and the result of joy in widest commopalty spread; of the investigation which gave rise to it was a determi- of the individual Mind that keeps her own nation to compose a philosophical Poem, containing loviolate retirement, subject there views of Man, Nature, and Society; and to be entitled, To Conscience only, and the law supreme The Recluse; as having for its principal subject the

Of that Intelligence which governs all; sensations and opinions of a Poet living in retirement. I sing: fic audience let me find though few!

- The preparatory Poem is biographical, and conducts the history of the Author's mind to the point when be was emboldened to hope that his faculties were suffi- « So prayed, more gaining than he asked, the Bard, ciendly matured for catering upon the arduous labour Holiest of Men.-Urania, I shall need which he had proposed to himself; and the two Works Thy guidance, or a greater Muse, if such have the same kind of relation to each other, if he may Descend to earth or dwell in highest heaven! so express himself, as the Ante-chapel has to the body For I must tread on shadowy ground, must sink of a Gothic Church. Continuing this allusion, he may Deep-and, aloft ascending, breathe in worlds be permitted to add, that his minor Pieces, which have to which the heaven of heavens is but a veil. becn look before the Public, being now properly ar- All strength-all terror, single or in bands, ranged, will be found by the attentive Reader to have that ever was put forth in personal form; such connexion with the main Work as may give them Jehovah-with his thunder, and the choir claim to be likened to the little Cells, Oratories, and Of shouting Angels, and the empyreal thronessepulcliral Recesses, ordinarily included in those Edi- I pass them unatarmed. Not Chaos, not tices.

The darkest pit of lowest Erebus,

Nor aught of blinder vacancy--scooped out The Author would not have deemed himself justified By belp of dreams, can breed such fear and awe in saying, upon this occasion, so much of performances As fall upon us often when we look either untinished, or unpublished, if bie bad not thought Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man, that the labour bestowed by lim upon what he has My haunt, and the main region of my Song. heretofore and now laid before the Public, entitled lim - Beauty-a living Presence of the earth, to candid attention for such a statement as he thinks Surpassing the most fair ideal forms

BOOK I.

ARGUMENT. A summer forenoon - The Author reaches a rujord

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

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, Fortu nate 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 boly passion, shall find these A simple produce of the common day. -1, 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 filled :—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 name Can it be called) which they with blended might Accomplish :—this is our ligh 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 intlamed; 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 inspir'st The human Soul of universal carth, 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 of Man Contemplating, and who, and what he was, The transitory Being that belielu 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 ;-nurse, 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 ! »

THE WANDERER. '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, sbow'd 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 Of some huge cave, whose rocky ceiling casts A twilight of its own, an ample shade, Where the wren warbles; while the dreaming Mao, Half conscious of the soothing melody, With side-long eye looks out upon the scene, Dy power of that impending covert thrown To finer distance. Other lot was mine; Yet with good heart 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 baftled; nor could my wcak arm disperse The host of insects gathering round my face, And ever with me as I paced along.

[ocr errors]

Upon that open level stood a Grove, The wish'd-for port to which my course was bound Thither I came, and there, amid the gloom Spread by a brotherhood of lofly elms, Appear'd a rootless Hut; 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 unimpair'd. There was he seen upon the Costage bench, Recumbent in the shade, as if asleep; An iron-pointed staff lay at his side.

Him had I mark'd the day before-alone And station'd in the public way, with face Turn'd tow'rd the sun then setting, while that staff Afforded to the Figure of the Man Detain'd for contemplation or repose, Graceful support; his countenance meanwhile Was hidden from my view, and he remain'd Unrecognized; but, stricken by the sight, With slackend footsteps I advanced, and soon 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.

We were tried Friends : amid a pleasant vale, And an habitual piety, maintain a
In the antique market village where were pass'd With strictness scarcely known on English ground.
My school-days, an apartment he had own'd,
To which at intervals the Wanderer drew,

From his sixth year, the Boy of whom I speak, And found a kind of home or harbour there.

In summer, tended cattle on the Hills; He loved me; from a swarm of rosy Boys

But, through the inciement and the perilous days į Singled out me, as he in sport would say,

Of long-continuing winter, he repair'd,
For my grave looks-too thoughtful for my years.. Equipp'd with satchel, to a School, that stood
As I grew up, it was my best delight

Sole Building on a mountain's dreary edge,
To be his chosen Comrade. Many a time,

Remote from view of City spire, or sound i On bolidays, we rambled through the woods :

Of Minster clock! From that bleak Tenement
We sale --we walk'd; he pleased me with report lle, many an evening, to his distant home
Of things which he had seen; and often touch'd In solitude returning, saw the Hills
Abstrusest matter, reasonings of the mind

Grow larger in the darkness, all alone
Turnid inward; or at my request would sing

Beheld the stars come out above his head, Old songs--the product of his native hills;

And travell’d through the wood, with no one near A skilful distribution of sweet sounds,

To whom he might confess the things he saw. Feeding the soul, and eagerly imbibed

So the foundations of his mind were laid. As cool refreshing Water, by the care

Jo such communion, not from terror free, of the industrious husbandman, diffused

While yet a Child, and long before his time, Through a parch'd meadow-ground, in time of drought. He had perceived the presence and the power Sull deeper welcome found his pure discourse :

Of greatness; and deep feelings had impressid | How precious when in riper days I learn'd

Great objects on his mind, with portraiture To weigh with care his words, and to rejoice

And colour so distinct, that on his mind In the plain presence of his dignity!

They lay like substances, and almost seemd 1

To liaunt the bodily sense. lle had received Ob! many are the Poets that are sown

A precious gift; for, as he grew in years, By Nature ; Men endowed with highest gifts,

With these impressions would he still compare The vision and the faculty divine,

All his remembrances, thoughts, shapes, and forms; Yet wanting the accomplishment of Verse

And, being still unsatisfied with aught Which, in the docile season of their youth,

Of dimmer character, he thence attain'd It was denied them to acquire, through lack

An active power to fasten images Of culture and the inspiring aid of books,

Upon his brain; and on their pictured lines Or haply by a temper too severe,

Intensely brooded, even till they acquired Or a nice backwardness afraid of shame);

The liveliness of drains. Nor did he fail, Kor having e'er, as life advanced, been led

While yet a Child, with a Child's eagerness by circumstance to take unto the height

Iocessantly to turn his ear and eye The measure of themselves, these favour'd Beings, On all things which the moving seasons broughi All bat a scattered few, live out their time,

To feed such appetite : nor this alone Husbanding that which they possess within,

Appeased his yearning :-in the after day And go to the grave, unthought of. Strongest minds Of Boyhood, many an hour in caves forlorn, Are often those of whom the noisy world

And 'mid the hollow depths of naked crags dears least; else surely this Man had not left

He sate, and even in their fix'd lineaments, His graces unreveal'd and unproclaim'd.

Or from the power of a peculiar eye, But as the mind was fill'd with inward light

Or by creative feeliog overborne, So not without distinction had he lived,

Or by predominance of thought oppress'd Beloved and honoured-far as he was known.

Even in their fix'd and steady lineaments And some small portion of his eloquent speech, He traced an ebbing and a flowing mind, And something that may serve to set in view

Expression ever varying! The feeling-pleasures of his loneliness,

Thus inform d. His observations, and the thoughts his mind

He had small need of books; for many a Tale Had dealth with-I will here record in verse ; Traditionary round the mountains hung, Which, if with truth it correspond, and sink

And many a legend, peopling the dark woods, Or rise, as venerable Nature leads,

Nourished Imagination in her growth, The lugh and tender Muses shall accept

And gave the Mind that apprehensive power With gracious smile, deliberately pleased,

By which she is made quick to recognize And listening Time reward with sacred praise.

The moral properties and scope of things.

But eagerly be read, and read again, Among the hills of Athol he was born :

Whate'er the Minister's old Shelf supplied , Where, on a small bereditary Farm,

The life and death of Martyrs, who sustain'd, An uaproductive slip of rugged ground,

With will intlexible, those fearful pangs
His Parents, with their numerous Offspring, dweit; Triumphantly display'd io records left
A virtuous Household, though exceeding poor! Of Persecution, and the Covenant - Times
Pare Livers were they all, austere and grave,

Whose echo rings through Scouand to this hour! And fearing God; the very Children taught

And there, by lucky hap, had been preserved Stero self-respect, a reverence tor God's word, A stracgling volume, toru and incompleie,

Self-question d where it did not understand, And with a superstitious eye of love.

So pass'd the time; yet to the nearest town He duly went with what small overplus His earnings might supply, and brought away The Book that most had tempted his desires While at the Stall he read. Among the bills He gazed upon that mighty Orb of Song, The divine Milton. Lore of different kind, The annual savings of a toilsome life, His School-master supplied; books that explain The purer clements of truth involved In lines and numbers, and, by charm severe, (Especially perceived where Nature droops And feeling is suppress'd) preserve the mind Busy in solitude and poverty. These occupations oftentimes deceived The listless hours, while in the hollow vale, Hollow and green, he lay on the green turf In pensive idleness. What could he do, Thus daily thirsting, in that lonesome life, With blind endeavours? Yet, still uppermost, Nature was at his heart as if he felt, Though yet he knew not how, a wasting power In all things that from her sweet influence Might tend to wean him. Therefore with her hues, ller forms, and with the spirit of her forins, lle clothed the nakedness of austere truth. While yet he linger'd in the rudiments Of science, and among her simplest laws, His triangles-they were the stars of heaven, The silent stars! Oft did he take delight To measure th' altitude of some tall crac That is the cagle's birth-place, or some peak Familiar with forgotten years, that shows Inscribed, as with the silence of the thought, Upon its bleak and visionary sides, The history of many a winter storm, Or obscure records of the path of fire.

That left half-told the preternatural tale,
Romance of Giants, chronicle of Fiends,
Profuse in garniture of wooden cuts
Strange and uncouth ; dire faces, figures dire,
Sharp-knee'd, sharp-elbowed, and lean-ankled too,
With long and ghostly shanks-forms which once seen
Could never be forgotten!

In his heart,
Where Fear sate thus, a cherish'd visitant,
Was wanting yet the pure delight of love
By sound diffused, or by the breathing air,
Or by the silent looks of liappy things,
Or flowing from the universal face
Of earth and sky. But he had felt the power
of Nature, and already was prepared,
By bis intense couceplions, to receive
Deeply the lesson deep of love which he,
Whom Nature, by wbatever means, has taught
To feel intensely, cannot but receive.

1

Such was the Boy--but for the growing Youth
What soul was his, when, from the naked top
Of some bold headlaud, he beheld the sun
Rise

up, and bathe the world in light! He look d-
Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth
And ocean's liquid mass, beneath him lay
In gladness and deep joy. The clouds were touchd,
And in their silent faces did he read
Unutterable love. Sound necded none,
Nor any voice of joy; his spirit drauk
The spectacle : sensation, soul, and form
All melted into him; they swallow'd up
His animal being; in them did he live,
And by them did he live; they were his life.
Jo such access of mind, in such high hour
Of visitation from the living God,
Thought was not; in enjoyment it expired.
No thanks he breathed, lic proffered no request;
Rapt into still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,
llis mind was a thanksgiving to the power
That made him; it was blessedness and love!

A Herdsman on the lonely mountain tops,
Such intercourse was his, and in this sort
Was lois existence oftentimes possess'd.
O then how beautiful, how bright appeard
The written Promise! Early had be learnd
To reverence the Volume that displays
The mystery, the life which cannot die;
But in the mountains did he feel his faith.
Responsive to the writing, all things there
Breathed immortality, revolving life,
And greatness still revolving; infinite;
There littleness was not; the least of things
Scem'd infinite; and there bis spirit shaped
Her prospects, nor did he believe, -he saw.
What wonder if his being thus became
Sublime and comprehensive! Low desires,
Low thoughts had there no place; yet was his heart
Lowly; for he was meek in gratitude,
Oft as he call'd those ecstacies to mind,
And whence they flow'd; and from them le acquired
Wisdom, which works thro' patience; thence he learnd
In oft-recurring hours of sober thought
To look on Nature with a humble heart,

And thus, before luis eighteenth year was told, Accumulated feelings pressid his heart With still increasing weight; he was o'erpower'd By Nature, by the turbulence subdued of his owo mind; by inystery and hope, And the first virgin passion of a soul Communing with the glorious Universe. Full often wishi'd lie that the winds might rage When they were silent; far more foodly now Than in his earlier scason did he love Tempestuous nights--the conflict and the sounds That live in darkness :-- from his intellect And from the stilloess of abstracted thought He ask'd repose ; and, failing oft to win The peace required, he scann'd the laws of light Amid the roar of torrents, where they send From hollow clefts up to the clearer air A cloud of mist that, smitten by the sun, Varies its rainbow hues. But vainiy thus, Aud vaivly by all other means, he strove To mitigate the fever of his heart.

In dreams, in study, and in ardent thought, Thus was he reard; much wanting to assist The growth of intellect, yet gaining more,

[ocr errors]

And every moral feeling of his soul

That made him turn aside from wretchedness Streogibend and braced, by breathing in content With coward fears. He could afford to suffer The keen, the wholesome air of poveriy,

With those whom he saw suffer. Hence it came And drivking from the well of homely life.

That in our best experience he was rich, --But, from past liberty, and tried restraints,

Aud in the wisdom of our daily life. lle pow was summond to select the course

For hence, minutely, in his various rounds, Of humble industry that promised best

He had observed the progress and decay To yield him no unwortliy maintenance.

Of many minds, of minds and bodies 100; Crged by his Mother, be essay'd to leachi

The History of many Families; A Village-school—but wandering thoughts were then How they had prosperd; how they were o'erthrown A misery to him; and the Youth resign'd

By passion or mischance; or such misrule A task he was unable to perform.

Among the unthinking masters of the earth

As makes the nations groan.— This active course 1

That stero yet kindly Spirit, who constrains lle follow'd till provision for his wants The Savoyard to quit his naked rocks,

Had been obtain'd ;-the Wanderer then resolved The free-born Swiss to leave his narrow vales,

To pass the remnant of his days—untask'd Spirit attachi'd to regions mountamous

With neediess services-from hardship free. Like their own stedfast clouds, did now impel

His Calling laid aside, he lived at ease : llis restless Mind to look abroad with hope.

But still lie loved to pace the public roads - Ja irk soine drudgery seems it to plod on,

And the wild patlıs; and, by the summer's warmth Through hot and dusty ways, or pelting storm, Invited, often would he leave his home A sayrant Merchant bent beneath his load!

And journey far, revisiting the scenes Yet do such Travellers find their own delight; That to his memory were most endeard. · And their hard service, deem'd delasing now,

- Vigorous in health, of liopeful spirits, undamp'd Gained merited respect in simpler times;

By worldly-mindedness, or anxious care; When Squire, and Priest, and they who round then Observant, studious, thoughtful, and refreshid dwelt

By knowledge gathered up from day to day;-lo rustic sequestration-all dependent

Thus had le lived a long and innocen: life. poa the Peolau's toil-supplied ilicir wants, Or pleased their fancies, with the wares he brought.

The Scottish Church, both on himself and those Not ignorant was the Youth that still no few

With whoon from childhood he grew up, had beld Of bis adventurous Countrymen were led

The strong hand of her purity; and still By perseverance in this Track of life

llad watch'd him with an unrelenting eye. To competence and ease ;- for him it bore

This he remember'd in his riper age Attractions manifold ;-and this he chose.

With gratitude, and reverential thoughts. His Parents on the enterprise bestow'd

But by the native vigour of his mind, Their farewell benediction, but with hearts

By his habitual wanderings out of doors, Foreboding evil. From his native hills

By loneliness, and goodness, and kind works, He wander'd far; much did he see of Men,

Whate'er, in docile childhood or in youth, Their manners, their enjoyments, and pursuits, He had imbibed or fear or darker thought, Their pussions, and their feelings; chetly those Was melted all away: so true was this, Essential and cternal in the heart,

That sometimes his religion seem'd to me That, mid the simpler forms of rural life,

Self-taught, as of a dreamer in the woods ; Exist more simple in their elements,

Whio to the model of his own pure heart And speak a plainer language. In the woods,

Shaped his belief as grace divine inspired, A lone Enthusiast, and abiony the ficlds,

Or human reason dictated with awe. Itinerant in this labour, be had pass'd

-And surely never did there live on eartla The belter portion of his tine; and there

A Man of kindlier nature. The rough sports Spontaneously had liis affections thriven

And teasing ways of Children vox'd not him; Amid the bounties of the year, the peace,

Indulgeni listener was be to the tongue And liberty of Nature; there he kept

Of garrulous age; nor did the sick man's tale, la solitude and solitary thought

To bis fraternal sympathy addressid, liis mind in a just equipoise of love.

Obtain reluctant hearing.
Serece it was, unclouded by the cares
Of ordinary life; unvexd, unwarp'd

Plain his garb;
By partial bondaye. In his steady course,

Such as might suit a rustic sire, prepared So pitcous revolutions had he felt,

For sabbath duties; yet he was a Man Yo wild varieties of joy and grief.

Whom no one could have pass'd without remark. Cnoccupied by sorrow of its owo,

Active and nervous was his gait; his limbs His heart lay open; and by Nature tuned

And his whole figure breathed intelligence And coostage disposition of his thoughts

Time had compressid the freshness of his cheek To sympathy with Mau, he was alive

Toto a narrower circle of deep red, To all that wis enjoy'd where'er he went;

Put had not tamed his eye; that, under brows And all that was endured; for in himself

Shayey and grey, had meanings which it brought Ilappy, and quiet in his cheerfulness,

From years of youth; whiclı, like a Being made He had no painful pressure from with it

Of many Beings, lie bad wondrous skill

[ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »