Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Be joyless as the blind ? Ambitious spirits-
Whom earth, at this late season, hath produced
To regulate the moving spheres, and weigh
The planets in the hollow of their hand;
And they who rather dive than soar, whose pains
Have solved the elements, or analysed
The thinking principle--shall they in fact
Prove a degraded Race ? and what avails
Renown, if their presumption make them such ?
Oh! there is laughter at their work in heaven!
Inquire of ancient Wisdom; go, demand
Of mighty Nature, if 'twas ever meant
That we should pry far off yet be unraised ;
That we should pore, and dwindle as we pore,
Viewing all objects unremittingly
In disconnexion dead and spiritless ;
And still dividing, and dividing still,
Break down all grandeur, still unsatisfied
With the perverse attempt, while littleness
May yet become more little ; waging thus
An impious warfare with the very life
Of our own souls !

And if indeed there be
An all-pervading Spirit, upon whoin
Our dark foundationis rest, could he design
That this magnificent effect of power,
The earth we tread, the sky that we behold
By day, and all the pomp which night reveals ;
That these—and that superior mystery
Our vital frame, so fearfully devised,
And the dread soul within it-should exist
Only to be examined, pondered, searched,
Probed, vexed, and criticised ?-Accuse me not
Of arrogance, unknown Wanderer as I am,
If, having walked with Nature threescore years,
And offered, far as frailty would allow,
My heart a daily sacrifice to Truth,
I now affirm of Nature and of Truth,

Whom I have served, that their DivinITY
Revolts, offended at the ways of men
Swayed by such motives, to such ends employed;
Philosophers, who, though the human soul
Be of a thousand faculties composed,
And twice ten thousand interests, do yet prize
This soul, and the transcendent universe,
No more than as a mirror that reflects
To proud Self-love her own intelligence ;
That one, poor, finite object, in the abyss
Of infinite Being, twinkling restlessly !

Nor higher place can be assigned to him And his compeers--the laughing Sage of France. Crowned was he, if my memory do not err, With laurel planted upon hoary hairs, In sign of conquest by his wit achieved And benefits his wisdom had conferred; His stooping body tottered with wreaths of flowers Opprest, far less becoming ornaments Than Spring oft twines about a mouldering tree; Yet so it pleased a fond, a vain, old Man, And a most frivolous people. Him I mean Who penned, to ridicule confiding faith, This sorry Legend; which by chance we found Piled in a nook, through malice, as might seem, Among more innocent rubbish.”—Speaking thus, With a brief notice when, and how, and where, We had espied the book, he drew it forth; And courteously, as if the act removed, At once, all traces from the good Man's heart Of unbenign aversion or contempt, Restored it to its owner. “Gentle Friend,” Herewith he grasped the Solitary's hand, “You have known lights and guides better than these. Ah! let not aught amiss within dispose A noble mind to practise on herself, And tempt opinion to support the wrongs

Of passion : whatsoe'er be felt or feared,
From higher judgment-seats make no appeal
To lower: can you question that the soul
Inherits an allegiance, not by choice
To be cast off, upon an oath proposed
By each new upstart notion ? In the ports
Of levity no refuge can be found,
No shelter, for a spirit in distress.
He, who by wilful disesteem of life
And proud insensibility to hope,
Affronts the eye of Solitude, shall learn
That her mild nature can be terrible;
That neither she nor Silence lack the power
To avenge their own insulted majesty.

O blest seclusion! when the mind admits The law of duty; and can therefore move Through each vicissitude of loss and gain, Linked in entire complacence with her choice ; When youth's presumptuousness is mellowed down, And manhood's vain anxiety dismissed; When wisdom shows her seasonable fruit, Upon the boughs of sheltering leisure hung In sober plenty ; when the spirit stoops To drink with gratitude the crystal stream Of unreproved enjoyment; and is pleased To muse, and be saluted by the air Of meek repentance, wafting wall-flower scents From out the crumbling ruins of fallen pride And chambers of transgression, now forlorn. 0, calm contented days, and peaceful nights ! Who, when such good can be obtained, would strive To reconcile his manhood to a couch Soft, as may seem, but, under that disguise, Stuffed with the thorny substance of the past For fixed annoyance; and full oft beset With floating dreams, black and disconsolate, The vapoury phantoms of futurity ?

Within the soul a faculty abides,
That with interpositions, which would hide
And darken, so can deal that they become
Contingencies of pomp; and serve to exalt
Her native brightness. As the ample moon,
In the deep stillness of a summer even
Rising behind a thick and lofty grove,
Burns, like an unconsuming fire of light,
In the green trees; and, kindling on all sides
Their leafy umbrage, turns the dusky veil
Into a substance glorious as her own,
Yea, with her own incorporated, by power
Capacious and serene. Like power abides
In man's celestial spirit; virtue thus
Sets forth and magnifies herself ; thus feeds
A calm, a beautiful, and silent fire,
From the encumbrances of mortal life,
From error, disappointment—nay, from guilt;
And sometimes, so relenting justice wills,
From palpable oppressions of despair.”

The Solitary by these words was touched With manifest emotion, and exclaimed; “But how begin ? and whence !-· The Mind is

free-
Resolve,' the haughty Moralist would say,
“This single act is all that we demand.'
Alas ! such wisdom bids a creature fly
Whose very sorrow is, that time hath shorn
His natural wings !- To friendship let him turn
For succour; but perhaps he sits alone
On stormy waters, tossed in a little boat
That holds but him, and can contain no more!
Religion tells of amity sublime
Which no condition can preclude; of One
Who sees all suffering, comprehends all wants,
All weakness fathoms, can supply all needs :
But is that bounty absolute ?-His gifts,

Are they not, still, in some degree, rewards
For acts of service ? Can his love extend
To hearts that own not him? Will showers of grace,
When in the sky no promise may be seen,
Fall to refresh a parched and withered land ?
Or shall the groaning Spiriť cast her load
At the Redeemer's feet?

In rueful tone,
With some impatience in his mien, he spake :
Back to my mind rushed all that had been urged
To calm the Sufferer when his story closed;
I looked for counsel as unbending now;
But a discriminating sympathy
Stooped to this apt reply :

“As men from men
Do, in the constitution of their souls,
Differ, by mystery not to be explained ;
And as we fall by various ways, and sink
One deeper than another, self-condemned,
Through manifold degrees of guilt and shame;
So manifold and various are the ways
Of restoration, fashioned to the steps
Of all infirmity, and tending all
To the same point, attainable by all-
Peace in ourselves, and union with our God.
For you, assuredly, a hopeful road
Lies open: we have heard from you a voice
At every moment softened in its course
By tenderness of heart; have seen your eye,
Even like an altar lit by fire from heaven,
Kindle before us.—Your discourse this day,
That, like the fabled Lethe, wished to flow
In creeping sadness, through oblivious shades
Of death and night, has caught at every turn
The colours of the sun. Access for you
Is yet preserved to principles of truth,
Which the imaginative Will upholds
In seats of wisdom, not to be approached

« ПредишнаНапред »