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From his long journeyings and eventful life,
Than this obscure Itinerant had skill
To gather, ranging through the tamer ground
Of these our unimaginative days ;
Both while he trod the earth in humblest guise
Accoutred with his burden and his staff;
And now, when free to move with lighter pace.
What wonder, then, if I, whose favorite school Hath been the fields, the roads, and rural lanes, Looked on this guide with reverential love? Each with the other pleased, we now pursued Our journey, under favorable skies. Turn wheresoe'er we would, he was a light Unfailing: not a hamlet could we pass, Rarely a house, that did not yield to him Remembrances ; or from his tongue call forth Some way-beguiling tale. Nor less regard Accompanied those strains of apt discourse, Which Nature's various objects might inspire ; And in the silence of his face I read His overflowing spirit. Birds and beasts, And the mute fish that glances in the stream, And harmless reptile coiling in the sun, And gorgeous insect hovering in the air, The fowl domestic, and the household dog, — In his capacious mind, he loved them all : Their rights acknowledging, he felt for all. Oft was occasion given me to perceive . How the calm pleasures of the pasturing herd
To happy contemplation soothed his walk ;
How the poor brute's condition, forced to run
Its course of suffering in the public road,
Sad contrast ! all too often smote his heart
With unavailing pity. Rich in love
And sweet humanity, he was, himself,
To the degree that he desired, beloved.
Smiles of good-will from faces that he knew
Greeted us all day long; we took our seats
By many a cottage hearth, where he received
The welcome of an Inmate from afar,
And I at once forgot I was a Stranger.
– Nor was he loth to enter ragged huts,
Huts where his charity was blest ; his voice
Heard as the voice of an experienced friend.
And sometimes — where the poor man held dispute . With his own mind, unable to subdue
Impatience through inaptness to perceive
General distress in his particular lot ;
Or cherishing resentment, or in vain
Struggling against it ; with a soul perplexed,
And finding in herself no steady power
To draw the line of comfort that divides
Calamity, the chastisement of Heaven,
From the injustice of our brother men —
To him appeal was made as to a judge ;
Who, with an understanding heart, allayed
The perturbation ; listened to the plea ;
Resolved the dubious point; and sentence gave,
So grounded, so applied, that it was heard
With softened spirit, even when it condemned.
Such intercourse I witnessed, while we roved, Now as his choice directed, now as mine; Or both, with equal readiness of will, Our course submitting to the changeful breeze Of accident. But when the rising sun Had three times called us to renew our walk, My Fellow-traveller, with earnest voice, As if the thought were but a moment old, Claimed absolute dominion for the day. We started, — and he led me toward the hills, Up through an ample vale, with higher hills Before us, mountains stern and desolate ; But, in the majesty of distance, now Set off, and to our ken appearing fair Of aspect, with aerial softness clad, And beautified with morning's purple beams.
The wealthy, the luxurious, by the stress Of business roused, or pleasure, ere their time, May roll in chariots, or provoke the hoofs Of the fleet coursers they bestride, to raise From earth the dust of morning, slow to rise ; And they, if blest with health and hearts at ease, Shall lack not their enjoyment:- but how faint Compared with ours ! who, pacing side by side, Could, with an eye of leisure, look on all That we beheld ; and lend the listening sense To every grateful sound of earth and air ; Pausing at will, — our spirits braced, our thoughts Pleasant as roses in the thickets blown, And pure as dew bathing their crimson leaves.
Mount slowly, sun! that we may journey long,
By this dark hill protected from thy beams !
Such is the summer pilgrim's frequent wish;
But quickly from among our morning thoughts
’T was chased away: for, toward the western side
Of the broad vale casting a casual glance,
We saw a throng of people ; — wherefore met ?
Blithe notes of music, suddenly let loose
On the thrilled ear, and flags uprising, yield
Prompt answer; they proclaim the annual Wake,
Which the bright season favors. — Tabor and pipe
In purpose join to hasten or reprove
The laggard Rustic; and repay with boons
Of merriment a party-colored knot,
Already formed upon the village green.
- Beyond the limits of the shadow cast
By the broad hill, glistened upon our sight
That gay assemblage. Round them and above,
Glitter, with dark recesses interposed,
Casement, and cottage roof, and stems of trees
Half veiled in vapory cloud, the silver steam
Of dews fast melting on their leafy boughs
By the strong sunbeams smitten. Like a mast
Of gold, the Maypole shines ; as if the rays
Of morning, aided by exhaling dew,
With gladsome influence could reanimate
The faded garlands dangling from its sides.
Said I, “The music and the sprightly scene Invite us; shall we quit our road, and join
These festive matins ?” — He replied, “ Not loth
To linger I would here with you partake,
Not one hour merely, but till evening's close,
The simple pastimes of the day and place.
By the fleet Racers, ere the sun be set,
The turf of yon large pasture will be skimmed ;
There, too, the lusty. Wrestlers shall contend :
But know we not that he who intermits
The appointed task and duties of the day
Untunes full oft the pleasures of the day ;
Checking the finer spirits that refuse
To flow, when purposes are lightly changed ?
A length of journey yet remains untraced :
Let us proceed.” Then, pointing with his staff
Raised toward those craggy' summits, his intent
He thus imparted :-
“In a spot that lies
Among yon mountain fastnesses concealed, .
You will receive, before the hour of noon,
Good recompense, I hope, for this day's toil,
From sight of one who lives secluded there,
Lonesome and lost : of whom, and whose past life,
(Not to forestall such knowledge as may be
More faithfully collected from himself,)
This brief communication shall suffice.
“ Though now sojourning there, he, like myself, Sprang from a stock of lowly parentage Among the wilds of Scotland, in a tract Where many a sheltered and well-tended plant