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A summer forenoon.-The Author reaches a ruined Cottage upon a Common, and there meets with a revered Friend, the Wanderer, of whose education and course of life he gives an account.-The Wanderer, while resting under the shade of the Trees that surround the Cottage, relates the History of its last Inhabitant.
'Twas summer, and the sun had mounted high :
Rest, and be welcomed there to livelier joy.
Upon that open moorland stood a grove, The wished-for port to which my course was bound.
Thither I came, and there, amid the gloom
Him had I marked the day before-alone And stationed in the public way, with face Turned toward the sun then setting, while that staff Afforded, to the figure of the man Detained for contemplation or repose, Graceful support ; his countenance as he stood Was hidden from my view, and he remained Unrecognised ; but, stricken by the sight, With slackened footsteps I advanced, and soon Å glad congratulation we exchanged Ai such untnought-of meeting.–For the night We parted, nothing willingly ; and now He by appointment waited for me here, Under the covert of these clustering elms.
We were tried Friends : amid a pleasant vale, In the antique market-village where was passed My school-time, an apartment he had owned, To which at intervals the Wanderer drew, And found a kind of home or harbour there. He loved me; from a swarm of rosy boys Singled out me, as he in sport would say, For my grave looks, too thoughtful for my years. As I grew up, it was my best delight To be his chosen comrade. Many a time, On holidays, we rambled through the woods : We sate--we walked ; he pleased me with report
Of things which he had seen; and often toucheri
Oh! many are the Poets that are sown By Nature; men endowed with highest gifts, The vision and the faculty divine ; Yet wanting the accomplishment of verse, (Which, in the docile season of their youth, It was denied them to acquire, through lack Of culture and the inspiring aid of books, Or haply by a temper too severe, Or a nice backwardness afraid of shame) Nor having e'er, as life advanced, been led By circumstance to take unto the height The measure of themselves, these favoured Beings, All but a scattered few, live out their time, Husbanding that which they possess within, And go to the grave, unthought of. Strongest minds Are often those of whom the noisy world Hears least ; else surely this Man had not left His graces unrevealed and unproclaimed. But, as the mind was filled with inward light, So not without distinction had he lived, Beloved and honoured-far as he was known. And some small portion of his eloquent speech, And something that may serve to set in view
The feeling pleasures of his loneliness,
Among the hills of Athol he was born; Where, on a small hereditary farm, An unproductive slip of rugged ground, His Parents, with their numerous offspring, dwelt; A virtuous household, though exceeding poor! Pure livers were they all, austere and grave, And fearing God; the very children taught Stern self-respect, a reverence for God's word, And an habitual piety, maintained With strictness scarcely known on English ground.
From his sixth year, the Boy of whom I speak, In summer, tended cattle on the hills; But, through the inclement and the perilous days Of long-continuing winter, he repaired, Equipped with satchel, to a school, that stood Sole building on a mountain's dreary edge, Remote from view of city spire, or sound Of minster clock! From that bleak tenement He, many an evening, to his distant home In solitude returning, saw the hills Grow larger in the darkness; all alone Beheld the stars come out above his head, And travelled through the wood, with no one near To whom he might confess the things he saw.
So the foundations of his mind were laid. In such communion, not from terror free, While yet a child, and long before his time,