Sidor som bilder

Of nave and aisle, in unpretending guise,
Was occupied by oaken benches ranged
In seemly rows; the chancel only showed
Some vain distinctions, marks of earthly state
By immemorial privilege allowed ;
Though with the Encincture’s special sanctity
But ill according. An heraldic shield,
Varying its tincture with the changeful light,
Imbued the altar-window ; fixed aloft
A faded hatchment hung, and one by time
Yet undiscoloured. A capacious pew
Of sculptured oak stood here, with drapery lined ;
And marble monuments were here displayed
Thronging the walls ; and on the floor beneath
Sepulchral stones appeared, with emblems graven
And foot-worn epitaphs, and some with small
And shining effigies of brass inlaid.

The tribute by these various records claimed, Duly we paid, each after each, and read The ordinary chronicle of birth, Office, alliance, and promotion-all Ending in dust; of upright magistrates, Grave doctors strenuous for the mother-church, And uncorrupted senators, alike To king and people true. A brazen plate, Not easily deciphered, told of one Whose course of earthly honour was begun In quality of page among the train Of the eighth Henry, when he crossed the scas

His royal state to show, and prove his strength
In tournament, upon the fields of France.
Another tablet registered the death,
And praised the gallant bearing, of a Knight
Tried in the sea-fights of the second Charles.
Near this brave Knight his Father lay entombed ;
And, to the silent language giving voice,
I read, -how in his manhood's earlier day
He, 'mid the afflictions of intestine war
And rightful government subverted, found
One only solace—that he had espoused
A virtuous Lady tenderly beloved
For her benign perfections; and yet more
Endeared to him, for this, that, in her state
Of wedlock richly crowned with Heaven's regard,
She with a numerous issue filled his house,
Who throve, like plants, uninjured by the storm
That laid their country waste. No need to speak
Of less particular notices assigned
To Youth or Maiden gone before their time,
And Matrons and unwedded Sisters old ;
Whose charity and goodness were rehearsed
In modest panegyric.

6. These dim lines,
What would they tell ? " said I,—but, from the task
Of puzzling out that faded narrative,
With whisper soft my venerable Friend
Called me; and, looking down the darksome aisle,
I saw the Tenant of the lonely vale
Standing apart ; with curved arm reclined

On the baptismal font; his pallid face
Upturned, as if his mind were rapt, or lost
In some abstraction ;-gracefully he stood,
The semblance bearing of a sculptured form
That leans upon a monumental urn

peace, from morn to night, from year to year.

Him from that posture did the Sexton rouse ;
Who entered, humming carelessly a tune,
Continuation haply of the notes
That had beguiled the work from which he carne,
With spade and mattock o'er his shoulder hung ;
To be deposited, for future need,
In their appointed place. The pale Recluse
Withdrew; and straight we followed,—to a spot
Where sun and shade were intermixed; for there
A broad oak, stretching forth its leafy arms
From an adjoining pasture, overhung
Small space of that green churchyard with a light
And pleasant awning. On the moss-grown wall
My ancient Friend and I together took
Our seats ; and thus the Solitary spake,
Standing before us :-

“Did you note the mien
Of that self-solaced, easy-hearted churl,
Death’s hireling, who scoops out his neighbour's grave,
Or wraps an old acquaintance up in clay,
All unconcerned as he would bind a sheaf,
Or plant a tree. And did you hear his voice ?
I was abruptly summoned by the sound

From some affecting images and thoughts,
Which then were silent; but crave utterance now.

Much," he continued, with dejected look, “Much, yesterday, was said in glowing phrase Of our sublime dependencies, and hopes For future states of being ; and the wings Of speculation, joyfully outspread, Hovered above our destiny on earth : But stoop, and place the prospect of the soul In sober contrast with reality, And man's substantial life. If this mute earth Of what it holds could speak, and every grave Were as a volume, shut, yet capable Of yielding its contents to eye and ear, We should recoil, stricken with sorrow and shame, To see disclosed, by such dread proof, how ill That which is done accords with what is known To reason, and by conscience is enjoined ; How idly, how perversely, life's whole course, To this conclusion, deviates from the line, Or of the end stops short, proposed to all At her aspiring outset.

Mark the babe Not long accustomed to this breathing world ; One that hath barely learned to shape a smile, Though yet irrational of soul, to grasp With tiny finger—to let fall a tear ; And, as the heavy cloud of sleep dissolves, To stretch his limbs, bemocking, as might seem,

The outward functions of intelligent man;
A grave proficient in amusive feats
Of puppetry, that from the lap declare
His expectations, and announce his claims
To that inheritance which millions rue
That they were ever born to! In due time
A day of solemn ceremonial comes ;
When they, who for this Minor hold in trust
Rights that transcend the loftiest heritage
Of mere humanity, present their Charge,
For this occasion daintily adorned,
At the baptismal font.

And when the pure
And consecrating element hath cleansed
The original stain, the child is there received
Into the second ark, Christ's church, with trust
That he, from wrath redeemed, therein shall float
Over the billows of this troublesome world
To the fair land of everlasting life.
Corrupt affections, covetous desires,
Are all renounced ; high as the thought of man
Can carry virtue, virtue is professed;
A dedication made, a promise given
For due provision to control and guide,
And unremitting progress to ensure
In holiness and truth.”

“ You cannot blame,” Here interposing fervently I said, “Rites which attest that Man by nature lies Bedded for good and evil in a gulf Fearfully low ; nor will your judgment scorn

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