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As if a new-made heaven were hailing a new His only visitants a straggling sheep, earth!
The stone-chat, or the glancing sand-piper : -All cannot be: the promise is too fair And on these barren rocks, with fern and heath, For creatures doomed to breathe terrestrial air : And juniper and thistle, sprinkled o'er, Yet not for this will sober reason frown
Fixing his downcast eye, he inany an hour Upon that promise, nor the hope disown; A morbid pleasure nourished, tracing here She knows that only from high aims ensue
An emblem of his own unfruitful life: Rich guerdons, and to them alone are due. And, lifting up his head, he then would gaze Great God! by whom the strifes of men are
On the more distant scene,-how lovely 'tis weighed
Thou seest, -and he would gaze till it became In an impartial balance, give thine aid
Far lovelier, and his heart could not sustain To the just cause; and, oh! do thou preside
The beauty, still more beauteous ! Nor, that Over the mighty stream now spreading wide:
time, So shall its waters, from the heavens supplied
When nature had subdued him to herself, In copious showers, from earth by wholesome Would he forget those Beings to whose minds springs,
Warm from the labours of benevolence Brood o'er the long-parched lands with Nile- The world, and human life, appeared a scene like wings!
Of kindred loveliness: then he would sigh, And grant that every sceptred child of clay
Inly disturbed, to think that others felt Who cries presumptuous, “Here the flood shall
What he must never feel: and so, lost Man! stay,
On visionary views would fancy feed, May in its progress see thy guiding hand,
Till his eye streamed with tears. In this deep And cease the acknowledged purpose to
He died, this seat his only monument.
If Thou be one whose heart the holy forms
Of young imagination have kept pure, To-night, my Friend, within this humble cot Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know Be scorn and fear and hope alike forgot
that pride, In timely sleep; and when, at break of day, Howe'er disguised in its own majesty, On the tall peaks the glistening sunbeams play, Is littleness; that he who feels contempt With a light heart our course we may renew, For any living thing, hath faculties The first whose footsteps print the mountain which he has never used; that thought with dew.
him 1791, 1792.
Is in its infancy. The man whose eye
The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands Instructed that true knowledge leads to love;
O be wiser, Thou !
Unlawful, ever. near the lake of Esthwaite, on a desolate True dignity abides with him alone part of the shore, commanding a beautiful Who, in the silent hour of inward thought, prospect.
Can still suspect, and still revere himself,
GUILT AND SORROW;
OR, INCIDENTS UPON SALISBURY PLAIN. By one soft impulse saved from vacancy.
Who he was
PREFIXED TO THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS With its dark arms to form a circling bower, I well remember.-He was one who owned
POEM, PUBLISHED IN 1842. No common soul. In youth by science nursed,
Not less than one-third of the following poem, And led by nature into a wild scene
though it has from time to time been altered in Of lofty hopes, he to the world went forth the expression, was published so far back as A favoured Being, knowing no desire
the year 1798, under the title of “The Female Which genius did not hallow; 'gainst the taint Vagrant." The extract is of such length that Of dissolute tongues, and jealousy, and hate, an apology seems to be required for reprinting And scorn,-against all enemies prepared, it here: but it was necessary to restore it to its All but neglect. The world, for so it thought, original position, or the rest would have been Owed him no service ; wherefore he at once unintelligible. The whole was written before With indignation turned himself away,
the close of the year 1794, and I will detail, And with the food of pride sustained his soul rather as a matter of literary biography than In solitude. -Stranger! these gloomy boughs for any other reason, the circumstances under Had charms for him; and here he loved to sit, which it was produced.
During the latter part of the summer of 1793, And scarce could any trace of man descry, having passed a month in the Isle of Wight, in Save cornfields stretched and stretching without view of the fleet which was then preparing for bound; sea off Portsmouth at the commencement of the But where the sower dwelt was nowhere to be war, I left the place with melancholy forebod- found. ings. The American war was still fresh in memory. The struggle which was beginning, and No tree was there, no meadow's pleasant green, which many thought would be brought to a No brook to wet his lip or soothe his ear; speedy close by the irresistible, arms of Great Long files of corn-stacks here and there were, Britain being added to those of the allies, I was seen, assured in my own mind would be of long con- But not one dwelling-place his heart to cheer. tinuance, and productive of distress and misery Some labourer, thought he, may perchance be beyond all possible calculation. This convic
near; tion was pressed upon me by having been a And so he sent a feeble shout-in vain ; witness, during a long residence in revolution- No voice made answer, he could only hear ary France, of the spirit which prevailed in that Winds rustling over plots of unripe grain, country. After leaving the Isle of Wight, I Or whistling thro' thin grass along the unfurspent two days in wandering on foot over Salis rowed plain. bury Plain, which, though cultivation was then widely spread through parts of it, had upon the whole a still more impressive appearance than Long had he fancied cach successive slope it now retains.
Concealed some cottage, whither he might turn The monuments and traces of antiquity, And rest ; but now along heaven's darkening scattered in abundance over that region, led cope me unavoidably to compare what we know or The crows rushed by in eddies, homeward borne. guess of those remote times with certain aspects Thus warned, he sought some shepherd's spreadof modern society, and with calamities, princi
ing thorn pally those consequent upon war, to which, Or hovel from the storm to shield his head, more than other classes of men, the poor are But sought in vain; for now, all wild, forlorn, subject. In those reflections, joined with par. And vacant, a huge waste around him spread; ticular facts that had come to my knowledge, The wet cold ground, he feared, must be his the following stanzas originated.
only bed. In conclusion, to obviate some distraction in
VI. the minds of those who are well acquainted And be it som for to the chill night shower with Salisbury Plain, it may be proper to say, And the sharp wind his head he oft hath bared; that of the features described as belonging to A Sailor he, who many a wretched hour it, one or two are taken from other desolate Hath told ; for, landing after labour hard, parts of England.
Full long endured in hope of just reward,
Like fate; was liurried off, a helpless prey,
VII. Help from the staff he bore; for mien and air For years the work of carnage did not cease, Were hardy, though his cheek seemed worn And death's dire aspect daily he surveyed, with care
Death's minister; then came his glad release, Both of the time to come, and timc long fied: And hope returned, and pleasure fondly made Down fell in straggling locks his thin grey hair; Her dwelling in his dreams. By Fancy's aid A coat he wore of military red.
The happy husband flies, his arms to throw But faded, and stuck o'er with many a patch Round his wife's neck; the prize of victory laid and shred.
In her full lap, he sees such sweet tears flow II.
As if thenceforth nor pain nor trouble she could While thus he journeyed, step by step led on,
know. He saw and passed a stately inn, full sure
VIIT. That welcome in such house for him was none. Vain hope ! for fraud took all that he had earned. No board inscribed the needy to allure
The lion roars and gluts his tawny brood Hung there, no bush proclaimed to old and poor Even in the desert's heart; but he, returned, And desolate, “Here you will find a friend !” Bears not to those he loves their needful food. The pendent grapes glittered above the door;- His home approaching, but in such a mood On he must pace, perchance 'till night descend, That from his sight his children mi have run, Where'er the dreary roads their bare white lines He met a traveller, robbed him, shed his blood; extend.
And when the miserable work was done
He fled, a vagrant since, the murderer's fate to The gathering clouds grew red with stormy fire, shun. In streaks diverging wide and mounting high;
Lx. That inn he long had passed; the distant spire, From that day forth no place to him could be Which oft as he looked back had fixed his eye, So lonely, but that thence might come a pang Was lost, though still he looked, in the blank Brought from without to inward misery. sky:
Now, as he plodded on, with sullen clang Perplexed and comfortless he gazed around, A sound of chains along the desert rang;
He looked, and saw upon a gibbet high Disclose a naked guide-post's double head, A human body that in irons swang,
Sight which tho' lost at once a gleam of Uplifted by the tempest whirling by;
pleasure shed. And, hovering, round it often did a raven fly.
No swinging sign-board creaked from cottage
elm It was a spectacle which none might view, In spot so savage, but with shuddering pain ; To stay his steps with faintness overcome ; Nor only did for him at once renew
'Twas dark and void as ocean's watery realm All he had feared from man, but roused a train Roaring with storms beneath night's starless Of the mind's phantoms, horrible as vain.
gloom; The stones, as if to cover him from day,
No gipsy cower'd o'er fire of furze or broom ; Rolled at his back along the living plain;
No labourer watched his red kiln glaring bright, He fell, and without sense or motion lay ;
Nor taper glimmered dim from sick man's room; But, when the trapce was gone, feebly pursued Along the waste no line of mournful light
From lamp of lonely toll-gate streamed athwart the night.
XVII. As one whose brain habitual phrensy fires At length, though hid in clouds, the moon arose; Owes to the fit in which his soul hath tossed The downs were visible--and now revealed Profounder quiet, when the fit retires,
A structure stands, which two bare slopes Even so the dire phantasma which had crossed
enclose. His sense, in sudden vacancy quite lost, It was a spot, where, ancient vows fulfilled, Left his mind still as a deep evening stream. Kind pious hands did to the Vigin build Nor, if accosted now, in thought engrossed, A lonely Spital, the belated swain Moody, or inly troubled, would he seem From the night terrors of that waste to shield : To traveller who might talk of any casual theme. But there no human being could remain,
And now the walls are named the “Dead
House" of the plain.
In a dry nook where fern the floor bestrows All, all was cheerless to the horizon's bound; He lays his stiffened limbs, -his eyes begin to The weary eye-which, wheresoe'er it strays,
close ; Marks nothing but the red sun's setting round,
XIX. Or on the earth strange lines, in former days When hearing a deep sigh, that seemed to come Left by gigantic arms-at length surveys From one who mourned in sleep, he raised his What seems an antique castle spreading wide ;
head, Hoary and naked are its walls, and raise
And saw a woman in the naked room Their brow sublime : in shelter there to bide Outstretched, and turning on a restless bed: He turned, while rain poured down smoking The moon a wan dead light around her shed. on every side.
He vaked her-spake in tone that would not
He hoped, to calm her mind ; but ill he sped,
Had heard of one who, forced from storms to Before thy face did ever wretch appear,
shroud, Who in his heart had groaned with deadlier pain Felt the loose walls of this decayed Retreat Than he who, tempest-driven, thy shelter now Rock to incessant neighings shrill and loud, would gain?
While his horse pawed the floor with furious
heat; Within that fabric of mysterious form,
Till on a stone, that sparkled to his feet, Winds met in conflict, each by turns supreme; Struck, and still struck again, the troubled And, from the perilous ground dislodged,
horse : through storm
The man half raised the stone with pain and And rain he wildered on, no moon to stream
sweat, From gulf of parting clouds one friendly beam, Half raised, for well his arm might lose its force Nor any friendly sound his footsteps led; Disclosing the grim head of a late murdered Once did the lightning's faint disastrous gleam
He from his old hereditary nook Such tale of this lone mansion she had learned, Must part; the summons came ;-our final And, when that shape, with eyes in sleep half leave we took.
drowned, By the moon's sullen lamp she first discerned,
XXVII. Cold stony horror all her senses bound.
It was indeed a miserable hour Her he addressed in words of cheering sound; When, from the last hill-top, my sire surveyed, Recovering heart, like answer did she make; Peering above the trees, the steeple tower And well it was that, of the corse there found, That on his marriage-day sweet music made! In converse that ensued she nothing spake;
Till then, he hoped his bones might there be laid She knew not what dire pangs in him such tale Close by my mother in their native bowers : could wake.
Bidding me trust in God, he stood and prayed;
I could not pray :-through tears that fell in But soon his voice and words of kind intent
showers Banished that dismal thought; and now the wind Glimmered our dear-loved home, alas! no In fainter howlings told its rage was spent :
longer ours ! Meanwhile discourse ensued of various kind, Which by degrees a confidence of mind
There was a Youth whom I had loved so long, And mutual interest failed not to create.
That when I loved him not I cannot say: And, to a natural sympathy resigned,
'Mid the green mountains many a thoughtless In that forsaken building where they sate
song The Woman thus retraced her own untoward
We two had sung, like gladsome birds in May; fate.
When we began to tire of childish play,
We seemed still more and more to prize each “ By Derwent's side my father dwelt--a man
other; Of virtuous life, by pious parents bred; We talked of marriage and our marriage day ; And I believe that, soon as I began
And I in truth did love him like a brother, To lisp, he made me kneel beside my bed,
For never could I hope to meet with such And in his hearing there my prayers I said :
another. And afterwards, by my good father taught,
Two years were passed since to a distant town And nothing to my mind a sweeter pleasure What tears of bitter grief, till then unknown! brought.
What tender vows our last sad kiss delayed ! XXIV.
To him we turned :-we had no other aid : A little croft we owned-a plot of corn,
Like one revived, upon his neck I wept; A garden stored with peas, and mint, and thyme, And her whom he had loved in joy, he said, And flowers for posies, oft on Sunday morn He well could love in grief; his faith he kept; Plucked while the church bells rang their
And in a quiet home once more my father slept. earliest chime. Can I forget our freaks at shearing time!
XXX. My hen's rich nest through long grass scarce We lived in peace and comfort ; and were blest espied ;
With daily bread, by constant toil supplied. The cowslip-gathering in June's dewy prime; Three lovely babes had lain upon my breast : The swans that with white chests upreared in And often, viewing their sweet smiles, I sighed, pride
And knew not why. My happy father died, Rushing and racing came to meet me at the When threatened war reduced the children's water-side!
meal : Xxv.
Thrice happy! that for him the grave could hide The staff I well remember which upbore The empty loom, cold hearth, and silent wheel, The bending body of my active sire ;
And tears that flowed for ills which patience His seat beneath the honied sycamore
might not heal. Where the bees hummed, and chair by winter
XXXI. When market-morning came, the neat attire
'Twas a hard change ; an evil time was come; With which, though bent on haste, myself I
We had no hope, and no relief could gain : decked;
But soon, with proud parade, the noisy drum Our watchful house-dog, that would tease and Beat round to clear the streets of want and pain. tire
My husband's arms now only served to strain The stranger till its barking-fit I checked ;
Me and his children hungering in his view; The red-breast, known for years, which at my
In such dismay my prayers and tears were vain : casement pecked.
To join those miserable men he flew,
And now to the sea-coast, with numbers more, XXVI.
we drew. The suns of twenty summers danced along,
XXXII. Too little marked how fast they rolled away : There were we long neglected, and we bore But, through severe mischance and cruel wrong, Much sorrow ere the fleet its anchor weighed; My father's substance fell into decay:
Green fields before us, and our native shore, We toiled and struggled, hoping for a day We breathed a pestilential air, that made When Fortune might put on a kinder look ; Ravage for which no knell was heard.
We Bụt vain were wishes, efforts vain as they ;
For our departure; wished and wished-nor I too forgot the heavings of my
How quiet 'round me ship and ocean were ! 'Mid that long sickness and those hopes delayed, As quiet all within me. I was blest, That happier days we never more must view. And looked, and fed upon the silent air The parting signal streamed-at last the land Until it seemed to bring a joy to my despair. withdrew.
Ah! how unlike those late terrific sleeps,
And groans that rage of racking famine spoke ; Ran mountains high before the howling blast,
The unburied dead that lay in festering heaps, And many perished in the whirlwind's sweep.
The breathing pestilence that rose like
smoke, We gazed with terror on their gloomy sleep,
The shriek that from the distant battle broke, Untaught that soon such anguish must ensue,
The mine's dire carthquake, and the pallid host Our hopes such harvest of affliction reap,
Driven by the bomb's incessant thunder-stroke That we the mercy of the waves should rue :
To loathsome vaults, where heart-sick anguish We reached the western world, a poor devoted Hope died, and fear itself in agony was lost !
tossed, XXXIV. The pains and plagues that on our heads came Some mighty gulf of separation past, down,
I seemed transported to another world; Disease and famine, agony and fear,
A thought resigned with pain, when from the In wood or wilderness, in camp or town,
mast It would unman the firmest heart to hear. The impatient mariner the sail unfurled, All perished-all in one remorseless year, And, whistling, called the wind that hardly Husband and children l one by one, by sword curled And ravenous plague, all perished: every tear The silent sea. From the sweet thoughts of Dried up, despairing, desolate, on board
home A British ship I waked, as from a trance re- And from all hope I was for ever hurled. stored.'
For me-farthest from earthly port to roam Xxxv.
Was best, could I but shun the spot where man Here paused she of all present thought forlorn, might come. Nor voice, nor sound, that moment's pain expressed,
And oft I thought (my fancy was so strong) Yet Nature, with excess of grief o'erborne, That I, at last, a resting-place had found; From her full eyes their watery load released. 'Here will I dwell,' said I, 'my whole life long, He too was mute; and, ere her weeping ceased, Roaming the illimitable waters round; He rose, and to the ruin's portal went, Here will I live, of all but heaven disowned, And saw the dawn opening the silvery cast And end my days upon the peaceful flood.' — With rays of promise, north and southward sent; To break my dream the vessel reached its bound; And soon with crimson fire kindled the firma- | And homeless near a thousand homes I stood, ment.
And near a thousand tables pined and wanted
food “O come,” he cried, “come, after weary night Of such rough storm, this happy change to view." No help I sought; in sorrow turned adrift, So forth she came, and eastward looked; the Was hopeless, as if cast on some bare rock ; sight
Nor morsel to my mouth that day did lift, Over her brow like dawn of gladness threw; Nor raised my hand at any door to knock. Upon her cheek, to which its youthful hue I lay where, with his drowsy mates, the cock Seemed to return, dried the last lingering tear, From the cross-timber of an out-house hung : And from her grateful heart a fresh one drew : Dismally tolled, that night, the city clock ! The whilst her comrade to her pensive cheer At morn my sick heart hunger scarcely stung, Tempered fit words of hope ; and the lark Nor to the beggar's language could 'I fit my warbled near.
XLII. They looked and saw a lengthening road, and So passed a second day; and, when the third wain
Was come, I tried in vain the crowd's resort. That rang down a bare slope not far remote :
- In deep despair, by frightful wishes stirred, The barrows glistered bright with drops of rain, Near the sea-side 1 reached a ruined fort; Whistled the waggoner with merry note,
There, pains which nature could no more supThe cock far off sounded his clarion throat ;
port, But town, or farm, or hamlet, none they viewed, With blindness linked, did on my vitals fall ; Only were told there stood a lonely cot
And, after many interruptions short
Borne to a hospital, I lay with brain “Peaceful as this immeasurable plain
Drowsy and weak, and shattered memory : Is now, by beams of dawning light imprest, I heard my neighbours in their beds complain In the calm sunshine slept the glittering main; of many things which never troubled meThe very ocean hath its hour of rest.
Of feet still bustling round with busy glee,