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Glistened with tenderness; his mind, I knew,
DISCOURSE OF THE WANDERER, AND AN EVENING
VISIT TO THE LAKE.
ARGUMENT. Wanderer asserts that an active principle pervades the Universe, its
noblest seat the human soul-How lively this principle is in Childhood-Hence the delight in old Age of looking back upon Childhood The dignity, powers, and privileges of Age asserted—These not be looked for generally but under a just government-Right of a human Creature to be exempt from being considered as a mere Instrument–The condition of multitudes deplored-Former conversation recurred to, and the Wanderer's opinions set in a clearer lightTruth placed within reach of the humblest-Equality–Happy state of the two Boys again adverted to—Earnest wish expressed for a System of National Education established universally by Government -Glorious effects of this foretold—Walk to the Lake-Grand spectacle from the side of a hill-Address of Priest to the Supreme Beingin the course of which he contrasts with ancient Barbarism the present appearance of the scene before him-The change ascribed to Christianity-Apostrophe to his flock, living and dead-Gratitude to the Almighty-Return over the Lake-Parting with the SolitaryUnder what circumstances,
“To every Form of being is assigned,"
A simple blessing, or with evil mixed;
Ah! why in age
Do not think That good and wise ever will be allowed, Though strength decay, to breathe in such estate As shall divide them wholly from the stir Of hopeful nature. Rightly is it said That Man descends into the VALE of years ; Yet have I thought that we might also speak, And not presumptuously, I trust, of Age, As of a final EMINENCE ; though bare In aspect and forbidding, yet a point On which 'tis not impossible to sit In awful sovereignty; a place of power, A throne, that may be likened unto his, Who, in some placid day of summer, looks Down from a mountain-top,-say one of those High peaks, that bound the vale where now we are. Faint, and diminished to the gazing eye, Forest and field, and hill and dale appear, With all the shapes over their surface spread : But, while the gross and visible frame of things Relinquishes its hold upon the sense, Yea almost on the Mind herself, and seems All unsubstantialized, how loud the voice Of waters, with invigorated peal From the full river in the vale below, Ascending! For on that superior height Who sits, is disencumbered from the press Of near obstructions, and is privileged To breathe in solitude, above the host Of ever-humming insects, 'mid thin air That suits not them. The murmur of the leaves Many and idle, visits not his ear This he is freed from, and from thousand notes
(Not less unceasing, not less vain than these,)
And may it not be hoped, that, placed by age In like removal, tranquil though severe, We are not so removed for utter loss; But for some favour, suited to our need ? What more than that the severing should confer Fresh
power to commune with the invisible world, And hear the mighty stream of tendency Uttering, for elevation of our thought, A clear sonorous voice, inaudible To the vast multitude; whose doom it is To run the giddy round of vain delight, Or fret and labour on the Plain below.
But, if to such sublime ascent the hopes Of Man may rise, as to a welcome close And termination of his mortal course; Them only can such hope inspire whose minds Have not been starved by absolute neglect; Nor bodies crushed by unremitting toil; To whom kind Nature, therefore, may afford Proof of the sacred love she bears for all; Whose birthright Reason, therefore, may ensure, For me, consulting what I feel within In times when most existence with herself Is satisfied, I cannot but believe, That, far as kindly Nature hath free scope And Reason's sway predominates; even so far, Country, society, and time itself,