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A work which is not here, a covenant
Twill be between us but whatever fate
Befall thee, I shall love thee to the last,
The Shepherd ended here; and Luke stoop'd down,
Next morning, as had been resolv'd, the Boy
A good report did from their Kinsman come,
Of Luke and his well-doing; and the Boy
Wrote loving letters, full of wond'rous news,
Which, as the House-wife phrased it, were throughout
The prettiest letters that were ever seen.
Both parents read them with rejoicing hearts.
So, many months pass'd on: and once again
The Shepherd went about his daily work
With confident and cheerful thoughts; and now
Sometimes when he could find a leisure hour
He to that valley took his way, and there
Wrought at the Sheep-fold. Meantime Luke began
To slacken in his duty, and at length
He in the dissolute city gave himself
To evil courses: ignominy and shame
Fell on him, so that he was driven at last
To seek a hiding-place beyond the seas.
There is a comfort in the strength of love;Twill make a thing endurable, which else Would break the heart:—Old Michael found it I have convers'd with more than one who well Remember the Old Man, and what he was Years after he had heard this heavy news. His bodily frame had been from youth to age Of an unusual strength. Among the rocks He went, and still look'd up upon the sun, And listen'd to the wind; and as before
Pcrform'd all kinds of labour for his Sheep, And for the land his small inheritance. And to that hollow Dell from time to time Did he repair, to build the Fold of which His flock had need. 'Tis not forgotten yet The pity which was then in every heart For the Old Man — and 'tis believ'd by all That many and many a day he thither went, And never lifted up a single stone.
There, by the Sheep-fold, sometimes was he seen
Three years, or little more, did Isabel,
Survive her Husband: at her death the estate
Was sold, and went into a Stranger's hand.
The Cottage which was nam'd The Evening Star
Is gone, the ploughshare has been through the ground
On which it stood; great changes have been wrought
In all the neighbourhood, yet the Oak is left
That grew beside their Door; and the remains
Of the unfinished Sheep-fold may be seen
Beside the boisterous brook of Green-head Gill.
Vol. II. P
NOTES To The POEM Of THE BROTHERS.
Page 26—line 20 " There were two springs that bubbled side by side.'' The impressive circumstance here described, actually took place some years ago in this country, upon an eminence called Kidstow Pike, one of the highest of the mountains that surround Hawes-water. The summit of the pike was stricken by lightning ; and every trace of one of the fountains disappeared, while the other continued to flow as before.
Page 29—line 5 "The thought of death sits easy on the man," S~c. There is not any-thing more worthy of remark in the manners of the inhabitants of these mountains, than the tranquillity, I might say indifference, with which they think and talk upon the subject of death. Some of the country church-yards, as here described, do not contain a single tombstone, and most of them have a very small number.