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BOOK SEVENTH.

THE CHURCH-YARD AMONG THE MOUNTAINS

CONTINUED.

WHILE thus from theme to theme the Historian passed,
The words he uttered, and the scene that lay
Before our eyes, awakened in my mind
Vivid remembrance of those long-past hours ;
When, in the hollow of some shadowy vale,
(What time the splendor of the setting sun
Lay beautiful on Snowdon's sovereign brow,
On Cader Idris, or huge Penmanmaur)
A wandering Youth, I listened with delight
To pastoral melody or warlike air,
Drawn from the chords of the ancient British harp
By some accomplished Master, while he sate
Amid the quiet of the green recess,
And there did inexhaustibly dispense
An interchange of soft or solemn tunes,
Tender or blithe; now, as the varying mood

Of his own spirit urged,—now, as a voice
From youth or maiden, or some honoured chief
Of his compatriot villagers (that hung
Around him, drinking in the impassioned notes
Of the time-hallowed minstrelsy) required
For their heart's ease or pleasure. Strains of power
Were they, to seize and occupy the sense ;
But to a higher mark than song can reach
Rose this pure eloquence. And, when the stream
Which overflowed the soul was passed away,
A consciousness remained that it had left,
Deposited upon the silent shore
Of memory, images and precious thoughts,
That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed.

“ These grassy heaps lie amicably close,” Said I, “like surges heaving in the wind Along the surface of a mountain pool : Whence comes it, then, that yonder we behold Five graves, and only five, that rise together Unsociably sequestered, and encroaching On the smooth play-ground of the village-school ?"

The Vicar answered, “No disdainful pride In them who rest beneath, nor any course Of strange or tragic accident, hath helped To place those hillocks in that lonely guise. -Once more look forth, and follow with your sight The length of road that from yon mountain's base

Through bare enclosures stretches, 'till its line
Is lost within a little tuft of trees ;
Then, reappearing in a moment, quits
The cultured fields; and up the heathy waste,
Mounts, as you see, in mazes serpentine,
Led towards an easy outlet of the vale.
That little shady spot, that sylvan tuft,
By which the road is hidden, also hides
A cottage from our view; though I discern
(Ye scarcely can) amid its sheltering trees
The smokeless chimney-top.-

All unembowered
And naked stood that lowly Parsonage
(For such in truth it is, and appertains
To a small Chapel in the vale beyond)
When hither came its last Inhabitant.
Rough and forbidding were the choicest roads
By which our northern wilds could then be crossed ;
And into most of these secluded vales
Was no access for wain, heavy or light.
So, at his dwelling-place the Priest arrived
With store of household goods, in panniers slung
On sturdy horses graced with jingling bells,
And on the back of more ignoble beast ;
That, with like burthen of effects most prized
Or easiest carried, closed the motley train.
Young was I then, a school-boy of eight years ;
But still, methinks, I see them as they passed
In order, drawing toward their wished-for home.

-Rocked by the motion of a trusty ass Two ruddy children hung, a well-poised freight, Each in his basket nodding drowsily ; Their bonnets, I remember, wreathed with flowers, Which told it was the pleasant month of June ; And, close behind, the comely Matron rode, A woman of soft speech and gracious smile, And with a lady's mien.—From far they came, Even from Northumbrian hills; yet theirs had been A merry journey, rich in pastime, cheered By music, prank, and laughter-stirring jest ; And freak put on, and arch word dropped-to swell The cloud of fancy and uncouth surmise That gathered round the slowly-moving train. _Whence do they come? and with what errand charged? * Belong they to the fortune-telling tribe • Who pitch their tents under the green-wood tree? Or Strollers are they, furnished to enact

Fair Rosamond, and the Children of the Wood, • And, by that whiskered tabby's aid, set forth * The lucky venture of sage Whittington, • When the next village hears the show announced ‘By blast of trumpet ?' Plenteous was the growth Of such conjectures, overheard, or seen On many a staring countenance portrayed Of boor or burgher, as they marched along. And more than once their steadiness of face Was put to proof, and exercise supplied To their inventive humour, by stern looks,

And questions in authoritative tone,
From some staid guardian of the public peace,
Checking the sober steed on which he rode,
In his suspicious wisdom ; oftener still,
By notice indirect, or blunt demand
From traveller halting in his own despite,
A simple curiosity to ease :
Of which adventures, that beguiled and cheered
Their grave migration, the good pair would tell,
With undiminished glee, in hoary age.

A Priest he was by function ; but his course From his youth up, and high as manhood's noon, (The hour of life to which he then was brought) Had been irregular, I might say, wild; By books unsteadied, by his pastoral care Too little checked. An active, ardent mind ; A fancy pregnant with resource and scheme To cheat the sadness of a rainy day; Hands apt for all ingenious arts and games; A generous spirit, and a body strong To cope with stoutest champions of the bowl ; Had earned for him sure welcome, and the rights Of a prized visitant, in the jolly hall Of country ’squire ; or at the statelier board Of duke or earl, from scenes of courtly pomp Withdrawn,—to while away the summer hours In condescension among rural guests.

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