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Again I halted with reverted eyes;
The chain that would not slacken, was at length
Snapt,-and, pursuing leisurely my way,
How vain, thought I, is it by change of place
To seek that comfort which the mind denies
Yet trial and temptation oft are shunned
Wisely ; and by such tenure do we hold,
Frail life's possessions, that even they whose fate
Yields no peculiar reason of complaint
Might, by the promise that is here, be won
To steal from active duties, and embrace
Obscurity, and undisturbed repose.
-Knowledge, methinks, in these disordered times.
Should be allowed a privilege to have
Her anchorites, like piety of old;
Men, who, from faction sacred, and unstained
By war, might, if so minded, turn aside
Uncensured, and subsist, a scattered few
Living to God and nature, and content
With that communion. Consecrated be
The spots where such abide! But happier stil?
The Man, whom, furthermore, a hope attends
That meditation and research may guide
His privacy to principles and powers
Discovered or invented ; or set forth,
Through his acquaintance with the ways of truth,
In lucid order; so that, when his course
Is run, some faithful eulogist may say,
He sought not praise, and praise did overlook
His unobtrusive merit; but his life,
Sweet to himself, was exercised in good
That shall survive his name and memory.
Acknowledgments of gratitude sincere Accompanied these musings; fervent thanks For my own peaceful lot and happy choice; A choice that from the passions of the world Withdrew, and fixed me in a still retreat ; Sheltered, but not to social duties lost, Secluded, but not buried; and with song Cheering my days, and with industrious thought; With the ever-welcome company of books; With virtuous friendship’s soul-sustaining aid, And with the blessings of domestic love.
Thus occupied in mind I paced along,
Following the rugged road, by sledge or wheel
Worn in the moorland, till I overtook
My two Associates, in the morning sunshine
Halting together on a rocky knoll,
Whence the bare road descended rapidly
green meadows of another vale.
Here did our pensive Host put forth his hand In sign of farewell. “Nay,” the old Man said, “ The fragrant air its coolness still retains ; The herds and flocks are yet abroad to crop The dewy grass ; you cannot leave us now,
We must not part at this inviting hour.”
He yielded, though reluctant; for his mind
Instinctively disposed him to retire
To his own covert; as a billow, heaved
Upon the beach, rolls back into the sea.
-So we descend : and winding round a rock
Attain a point that showed the valley—stretched
In length before us; and, not distant far,
Upon a rising ground a grey church-tower,
Whose battlements were screened by tufted trees.
And towards a crystal Mere, that lay beyond
Among steep hills and woods embosomed, flowed
A copious stream with boldly-winding course;
Here traceable, there hidden—there again
To sight restored, and glittering in the sun.
On the stream's bank, and every where, appeared
Fair dwellings, single, or in social knots ;
Some scattered o'er the level, others perched
On the hill sides, a cheerful quiet scene,
Now in its morning purity arrayed.
“As ʼmid some happy valley of the Alps," Said I, " once happy, ere tyrannic power, Wantonly breaking in upon the Swiss, Destroyed their unoffending commonwealth, A popular equality reigns here, Save for yon stately House beneath whose roof A rural lord might dwell.”—“ No feudal pomp,
Or power," replied the Wanderer, "to that House
Belongs, but there in his allotted Home
Abides, from year to year, a genuine Priest,
The shepherd of his flock ; or, as a king
Is styled, when most affectionately praised,
The father of his people. Such is he;
And rich and poor, and young and old, rejoice
Under his spiritual sway. He hath vouchsafed
To me some portion of a kind regard ;
And something also of his inner mind
Hath he imparted—but I speak of him
As he is known to all.
The calm delights
Of unambitious piety he chose,
And learning's solid dignity; though born
Of knightly race, nor wanting powerful friends.
Hither, in prime of manhood, he withdrew
From academic bowers. He loved the spot-
Who does not love his native soil ?—he prized
The ancient rural character, composed
Of simple manners, feelings unsupprest
And undisguised, and strong and serious thought ;
A character reflected in himself,
With such embellishment as well bescems
His rank and sacred function. This deep vale
Winds far in reaches hidden from our sight,
And one a turreted manorial hall
Adorns, in which the good Man's ancestors
Have dwelt through ages-Patrons of this Cure.
To them, and to his own judicious pains,
The Vicar's dwelling, and the whole domain,
Owes that presiding aspect which might well
your notice; statelier than could else
Have been bestowed, through course of common chance,
On an unwealthy mountain Benefice.”
This said, oft pausing, we pursued our way :
Nor reached the village-churchyard till the sun
Travelling at steadier
Above the summits of the highest hills,
And round our path darted oppressive beams.
As chanced, the portals of the sacred Pile Stood open; and we entered. On
At such transition from the fervid air,
A grateful coolness fell, that seemed to strike
The heart, in concert with that temperate awe
And natural reverence which the place inspired.
Not raised in nice proportions was the pile,
But large and massy; for duration built ;
With pillars crowded, and the roof upheld
By naked rafters intricately crossed,
Like leafless underboughs, in some thick wood,
All withered by the depth of shade above.
Admonitory texts inscribed the walls,
Each, in its ornamental scroll, enclosed ;
Each also crowned with winged heads—a pair
Of rudely-painted Cherubim. The floor