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MARGARET;

OR,

THE DESERTED COTTAGE.

AN EXTRACT

FROM THE FIRST BOOK OF

THE EXCURSION.

'Twas summer, and the sun had mounted high: Southward the landscape indistinctly glared Through a pale steam; but all the northern

downs, In clearest air ascending, showed far off A surface dappled o'er with shadows flung From brooding clouds ; shadows that lay in

spots Determined and unmoved, with steady beams Of bright and pleasant sunshine interposed ; Pleasant to him who on the soft cool moss Extends his careless limbs along the front Of some huge cave, whose rocky ceiling casts

A twilight of its own, an ample shade,
Where the wren warbles, while the dreaming

man,
Half conscious of the soothing melody,
With side-long eye looks out upon the scene,
By power of that impending covert thrown
To finer distance. Other lot was mine;
Yet with good hope that soon I should obtain
As grateful resting-place, and livelier joy.
Across a bare wide Common I was toiling
With languid steps that by the slippery ground
Were baffled ; nor could my weak arm disperse
The host of insects gathering round my face,
And ever with me as I paced along.

Upon that open level stood a grove, The wished-for port to which my course was

bound. Thither I came, and there amid the gloom Spread by a brotherhood of lofty elms, Appeared a roofless Hut; four naked walls That stared upon each other !-I looked round, And to my wish and to my hope espied Him whom I sought; a Man of reverend age, But stóut and hale, for travel unimpaired. There was he seen upon the cottage bench, Recumbent in the shade, as if asleep; An iron-pointed staff lay at his side.

Him had I marked the day before alone And stationed in the public way, with face

Túrned toward the sun then setting, while that

staff Afforded to the figure of the man Detained for contemplation or repose, Graceful support; his countenance meanwhile Was hidden from my view, and he remained Unrecognised; but, stricken by the sight, With slackened footsteps I advanced, and soon A glad congratulation we exchanged At such unthought-of meeting. -For the night We parted, nothing willingly; and now He by appointment waited for me here, Beneath the shelter of these clustering elms.

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 Into a narrower circle of deep red, But had not tamed his eye; that, under brows Shaggy and grey, had meanings which it brought From years of youth; which, like a Being made Of many Beings, he had wondrous skill To blend with knowledge of the years to come, Human, or such as lie beyond the grave.

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 suns 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-brier, 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 theft 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.
My thirst I slaked, and from the cheerless spot
Withdrawing, straightway to the shade returned
Where sate the old Man on the cottage bench;
And, while, beside him, with uncovered head,
I yet was standing, freely to respire,
And cool my temples in the fanning air,
Thus did he speak. “I see around me here
Things which you cannot see: we die, my

Friend,
Nor we alone, but that which each man loved
And prized in his peculiar nook of earth
Dies with him, or is changed; and very soon
Even of the good is no memorial left.
-The Poets, in their elegies and songs
Lamenting the departed, call the groves,
They call upon the hills and streams to mourn,
And senseless rocks; nor idly; for they speak,
In these their invocations, with a voice
Obedient to the strong creative power
Of human passion. Sympathies there are
More tranquil, yet perhaps of kindred birth,
That steal upon the meditative mind,
And grow with thought. Beside yon spring I

stood, And eyed its waters till we seemed to feel One sadness, they and I. For them a bond

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