ePub 版

Perpetual, multitudinous! Finally,
Hence a dread arm of floating power, a voice
Of thunder daunting those who would approach
With hostile purposes the blessèd Isle,
Truth's consecrated residence, the seat
Impregnable of Liberty and Peace.


And yet, o happy Pastor of a flock Faithfully watched, and, by that loving care And Heaven's good providence, preserved from taint! With you I grieve, when on the darker side

Ι Of this great change I look; and there behold Such outrage done to nature as compels The indignant power to justify herself ; Yea, to avenge her violated rights, For England's bane.- When soothing darkness spreads O'er hill and vale," the Wanderer thus expressed His recollections," and the punctual stars, While all things else are gathering to their homes, Advance, and in the firmament of heaven Glitter-but undisturbing, undisturbed ; As if their silent company were charged With peaceful admonitions for the heart Of all-beholding Man, earth's thoughtful lord; Then, in full many a region, once like this The assured domain of calm simplicity And pensive quiet, an unnatural light Prepared for never-resting Labour's eyes Breaks from a many-windowed fabric huge ; And at the appointed hour a bell is heard Of harsher import than the curfew-knoll That spake the Norman Conqueror's stern behest A local summons to unceasing toil !

Disgorged are now the ministers of day;
And, as they issue from the illumined pile,
A fresh band meets them, at the crowded door-
And in the courts--and where the rumbling stream,
That turns the multitude of dizzy wheels,
Glares, like a troubled spirit, in its bed
Among the rocks below. Men, maidens, youths,
Mother and little children, boys and girls,
Enter, and each the wonted task resumes
Within this temple, where is offered up
To Gain, the master idol of the realm,
Perpetual sacrifice. Even thus of old
Our ancestors, within the still domain
Of vast cathedral or conventual church,
Their vigils kept ; where tapers day and night
On the dim altar burned continually,
In token that the House was evermore
Watching to God. Religious men were they ;
Nor would their reason, tutored to aspire
Above this transitory world, allow
That there should pass a moment of the year,
When in their land the Almighty's service ceased

[ocr errors]

Triumph who will in these profaner rites
Which we, a generation self-extolled,
As zealously perform! I cannot share
His proud complacency :-yet do I exult,
Casting reserve away, exult to see
An intellectual mastery exercised
O’er the blind elements; a purpose given,
A perseverance fed; almost a soul
Imparted—to brute matter. I rejoice,
Measuring the force of those gigantic powers

That, by the thinking mind, have been compelled
To serve the will of feeble-bodied Man.
For with the sense of admiration blends
The animating hope that time may come
When, strengthened, yet not dazzled, by the might
Of this dominion over nature gained,
Men of all lands shall exercise the same
In due proportion to their country's need;
Learning, though late, that all true glory rests,
All praise, all safety, and all happiness,
Upon the moral law. Egyptian Thebes,
Tyre, by the margin of the sounding waves,
Palmyra, central in the desert, fell;
And the Arts died by which they had been raised.
- Call Archimedes from his buried tomb
Upon the grave of vanished Syracuse,
And feelingly the Sage shall make report
How insecure, how baseless in itself,
Is the Philosophy whose sway depends
On mere material instruments ;-how weak
Those arts, and high inventions, if unpropped
By virtue.-He, sighing with pensive grief,
Amid his calm abstractions, would admit
That not the slender privilege is theirs
To save themselves from blank forgetfulness !

When from the Wanderer's lips these words had fallen, I said, “ And, did in truth those vaunted Arts Possess such privilege, how could we escape Sadness and keen regret, we who revere, And would preserve as things above all price, The old domestic morals of the land, Her simple manners, and the stable worth

That dignified and cheered a low estate?
Oh! where is now the character of peace,
Sobriety, and order, and chaste love,
And honest dealing, and untainted speech,
And pure good-will, and hospitable cheer;
That made the very thought of country-life
A thought of refuge, for a mind detained
Reluctantly amid the bustling crowd ?
Where now the beauty of the sabbath kept
With conscientious reverence, as a day
By the almighty Lawgiver pronounced
Holy and blest ? and where the winning grace
Of all the lighter ornaments attached
To time and season, as the year rolled round ?"


“Fled!” was the Wanderer's passionate response,
“Fled utterly! or only to be traced
In a few fortunate retreats like this;
Which I behold with trembling, when I think
What lamentable change, a year-a month-
May bring; that brook converting as it runs
Into an instrument of deadly bane
For those, who, yet untempted to forsake
The simple occupations of their sires,
Drink the pure water of its innocent stream
With lip almost as pure.—Domestic bliss
(Or call it comfort, by a humbler name,)
How art thou blighted for the poor

Man's heart !
Lo! in such neighbourhood, from morn to eve,
The habitations empty! or perchance
The Mother left alone,-no helping hand
To rock the cradle of her peevish babe;
No daughters round her, busy at the wheel,

Or in dispatch of each day's little growth
Of household occupation; no nice arts
Of needle-work; no bustle at the fire,
Where once the dinner was prepared with pride;
Nothing to speed the day, or cheer the mind;
Nothing to praise, to teach, or to command !

The Father, if perchance he still retain His old employments, goes to field or wood, No longer led or followed by the Sons ; Idlers perchance they were,—but in his sight; Breathing fresh air, and treading the green earth; 'Till their short holiday of childhood ceased, Ne'er to return! That birthright now is lost. Economists will tell you that the State Thrives by the forfeiture-unfeeling thought, And false as monstrous ! Can the mother thrive By the destruction of her innocent sons In whom a premature necessity Blocks out the forms of nature, preconsumes The reason, famishes the heart, shuts up The infant Being in itself, and makes Its very spring a season of decay! The lot is wretched, the condition sad, Whether a pining discontent survive, And thirst for change; or habit hath subdued The soul deprest, dejected-even to love Of her close tasks, and long captivity.

Oh, banish far such wisdom as condemns
A native Briton to these inward chains,
Fixed in his soul, so early and so deep;
Without his own consent, or knowledge, fixed !

« 上一頁繼續 »