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That stern yet kindly Spirit, who constrains The Savoyard to quit his naked rocks, The free-born Swiss to leave his narrow vales, (Spirit attached to regions mountainous Like their own stedfast clouds) did now impel His restless mind to look abroad with hope. -An irksome drudgery seems it to plod on, Through hot and dusty ways, or pelting storm, A vagrant Merchant under a heavy load Bent as he moves, and needing frequent rest; Yet do such travellers find their own delight; And their hard service, deemed debasing now, Gained merited respect in simpler times; When squire, and priest, and they who round them
dwelt In rustic sequestration-all dependent Upon the Pedlar's toil-supplied their wants, Or pleased their fancies, with the wares he brought. Not ignorant was the Youth that still no few Of his adventurous countrymen were led By perseverance in this track of life To competence and ease :—to him it offered Attractions manifold ;-and this he chose. -His Parents on the enterprise bestowed Their farewell benediction, but with hearts Foreboding evil. From his native hills He wandered far; much did he see of men, Their manners, their enjoyments, and pursuits, Their passions and their feelings ; chiefly those Essential and eternal in the heart, That, 'mid the simpler forms of rural life, Exist more simple in their elements, And speak a plainer language. In the woods, A lone Enthusiast, and among the fields, Itinerant in this labour, he had passed The better portion of his time; and there Spontaneously had his affections thriven Amid the bounties of the year, the peace
And liberty of nature ; there he kept
This active course
And journey far, revisiting the scenes
The Scottish Church, both on himself and those With whom from childhood he grew up, had held The strong hand of her purity; and still Had watched him with an unrelenting eye. This he remembered in his riper age With gratitude, and reverential thoughts. But by the native vigour of his mind, By his habitual wanderings out of doors, By loneliness, and goodness, and kind works, Whate'er, in docile childhood or in youth, He had imbibed of fear or darker thought Was melted all away; so true was this, That sometimes his religion seemed to me Self-taught, as of a dreamer in the woods ; Who to the model of his own pure heart Shaped his belief, as grace divine inspired, * And human reason dictated with awe. -And surely never did there live on earth A man of kindlier nature. The rough sports And teasing ways of children vexed not him ; Indulgent listener was he to the tongue Of garrulous age ; nor did the sick man's tale, To his fraternal sympathy addressed, Obtain reluctant hearing.
Plain his garb ; Such as might suit a rustic Sire, prepared For sabbath duties; yet he was a man Whom no one could have passed without remark. Active and nervous was his gait; his limbs And his whole figure breathed intelligence.
Time had compressed the freshness of his cheek
So was He framed; and such his course of life Who now, with no appendage but a staff, The prized memorial of relinquished toils, Upon that cottage-bench reposed his limbs, Screened from the sun. Supine the Wanderer lay, His eyes as if in drowsiness half shut, The shadows of the breezy elms above Dappling his face. He had not heard the sound Of my approaching steps, and in the shade Unnoticed did I stand some minutes' space. At length I hailed him, seeing that his hat Was moist with water-drops, as if the brim Had newly scooped a running stream. He rose, And ere our lively greeting into peace Had settled, “'Tis,” said I, “ a burning day: My lips are parched with thirst, but you, it seems, Have somewhere found relief." He, at the word, Pointing towards a sweet-briar, bade me climb The fence where that aspiring shrub looked out Upon the public way. It was a plot Of garden ground run wild, its matted weeds Marked with the steps of those, whom, as they passed, The gooseberry trees that shot in long lank slips, Or currants, hanging from their leafless stems, In scanty strings, had tempted to o’erleap The broken wall. I looked around, and there, Where two tall hedge-rows of thick alder boughs Joined in a cold damp nook, espied a well
Shrouded with willow-flowers and plumy fern.