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-But let us hence! my dwelling is in sight, And there—"
At this the Solitary shrunk With backward will ; but, wanting not address That inward motion to disguise, he said To his Compatriot, smiling as he spake; -“The peaceable remains of this good Knight Would be disturbed, I fear, with wrathful scorn, If consciousness could reach him where he lies That one, albeit of these degenerate times, Deploring changes past, or dreading change Foreseen, had dared to couple, even in thought, The fine vocation of the sword and lance With the gross aims and body-bending toil Of a poor brotherhood who walk the earth Pitied, and, where they are not known, despised.
Yet, by the good Knight's leave, the two estates Are graced with some resemblance. Errant those, Exiles and wanderers—and the like are these ; Who, with their burthen, traverse hill and dale, Carrying relief for nature's simple wants. - What though no higher recompense be sought Than honest maintenance, by irksome toil Full oft procured, yet may they claim respect, Among the intelligent, for what this course Enables them to be and to perform. Their tardy steps give leisure to observe, While solitude permits the mind to feel ; Instructs, and prompts her to supply defects By the division of her inward self For grateful converse : and to these poor men Nature (I but repeat your favourite boast) Is bountiful-go wheresoe'er they may; Kind nature's various wealth is all their own, Versed in the characters of men ; and bound, By ties of daily interest, to maintain Conciliatory manners and smooth speech;
Such have been, and still are in their degree,
“Happy," rejoined the Wanderer, “they who gain A panegyric from your generous tongue ! But, if to these Wayfarers once pertained Aught of romantic interest, it is gone. Their purer service, in this realm at least, Is past for ever. An inventive Age Has wrought, if not with speed of magic, yet To most strange issues. I have lived to mark A new and unforeseen creation rise From out the labours of a peaceful Land Wielding her potent enginery to frame And to produce, with appetite as keen As that of war, which rests not night or day, Industrious to destroy! With fruitless pains Might one like me now visit many a tract Which, in his youth, he trod, and trod again, A lone pedestrian with a scanty freight, Wished-for, or welcome, wheresoe'er he came Among the tenantry of thorpe and vill; Or straggling burgh, of ancient charter proud,
And dignified by battlements and towers
Meanwhile, at social Industry's command, How quick, how vast an increase! From the germ Of some poor hamlet, rapidly produced Here a huge town, continuous and compact, Hiding the face of earth for leagues—and there, Where not a habitation stood before, Abodes of men irregularly massed Like trees in forests,-spread through spacious tracts, O’er which the smoke of unremitting fires Hangs permanent, and plentiful as wreaths Of vapour glittering in the morning sun. And, wheresoe'er the traveller turns his steps, He sees the barren wilderness erased, Or disappearing ; triumph that proclaims How much the mild Directress of the plough Owes to alliance with these new-born arts ! -Hence is the wide sea peopled,-hence the shores Of Britain are resorted to by ships Freighted from every climate of the world With the world's choicest produce. Hence that sum Of keels that rest within her crowded ports, Or ride at anchor in her sounds and bays;
That animating spectacle of sails
And yet, О happy Pastor of a flock Faithfully watched, and, by that loving care And Heaven's good providence, preserved from taint! With you I grieve, when on the darker side Of this great change I look; and there behold Such outrage done to nature as compels The indignant power to justify herself; Yea, to avenge her violated rights, For England's bane.—When soothing darkness
spreads O’er hill and vale,” the Wanderer thus expressed His recollections, “and the punctual stars, While all things else are gathering to their homes, Advance, and in the firmament of heaven Glitter-but undisturbing, undisturbed ; As if their silent company were charged With peaceful admonitions for the heart Of all-beholding Man, earth's thoughtful lord; Then, in full many a region, once like this The assured domain of calm simplicity And pensive quiet, an unnatural light Prepared for never-resting Labour's eyes Breaks from a many-windowed fabric huge ; And at the appointed hour a bell is heard, Of harsher import than the curfew-knoll That spake the Norman Conqueror's stern behestA local summons to unceasing toil! Disgorged are now the ministers of day;
And, as they issue from the illumined pile,
Triumph who will in these profaner rites Which we, a generation self-extolled, As zealously perform! I cannot share His proud complacency :-yet do I exult, Casting reserve away, exult to see An intellectual mastery exercised O’er the blind elements; a purpose given, A perseverance fed ; almost a soul Imparted—to brute matter. I rejoice, Measuring the force of those gigantic powers That, by the thinking mind, have been compelled To serve the will of feeble-bodied Man. For with the sense of admiration blends The animating hope that time may come When, strengthened, yet not dazzled, by the might Of this dominion over nature gained,