Page images

And Advocate of humble life, I now
Will force upon his notice; undeterred
By the example of his own pure course,
And that respect and deference which a soul
May fairly claim, by niggard age enriched
In what it values most-the love of God

And his frail creature Man ;-but ye shall hear.
I talk-and ye are standing in the sun

Without refreshment!"

Saying this he led

Towards the Cottage ;-homely was the spot;
And, to my feeling, ere we reached the door,
Had almost a forbidding nakedness;

Less fair, I grant, even painfully less fair,
Than it appeared when from the Valley's brink

We had looked down upon it. All within,
As left by that departed company,

Was silent; and the solitary clock

Ticked, as I thought, with melancholy sound.Following our Guide we clomb the cottage stairs And reached a small apartment dark and low, Which was no sooner entered than our Host

Said gaily, "This is my domain, my cell,


My hermitage, my cabin, what you will.-
I love it better than a snail his house.

But now Ye shall be feasted with our best."
So, with more ardour than an unripe girl
Left one day mistress of her mother's stores,
He went about his hospitable task.

My eyes were busy, and my thoughts no less,
And pleased I looked upon my grey-haired Friend
As if to thank him; he returned that look,
Cheered plainly, and yet serious. What a wreck
We had around us! scattered was the floor,

And, in like sort, chair, window-seat, and shelf,
With books, maps, fossils, withered plants and flowers,
And tufts of mountain moss; and here and there

Lay, intermixed with these, mechanic tools,

[ocr errors]

scraps of paper,―some I could perceive
Scribbled with verse: a broken angling-rod
And shattered telescope, together linked
By cobwebs, stood within a dusty nook ;
And instruments of music, some half-made,
Some in disgrace, hung dangling from the walls.
-But speedily the promise was fulfilled,

A feast before us, and a courteous Host

Inviting us in glee to sit and eat.

A napkin, white as foam of that rough brook

By which it had been bleached, o'erspread the board; And was itself half-covered with a load

Of dainties,-oaten bread, curds, cheese, and cream, And cakes of butter curiously embossed,

Butter that had imbibed a golden tinge,

A hue like that of yellow meadow flowers
Reflected faintly in a silent pool.

Nor lacked, for more delight on that warm day,
Our Table, small parade of garden fruits,

And whortle-berries from the mountain-sides.

The Child, who long ere this had stilled his sobs,
Was now a help to his late Comforter,

And moved a willing Page, as he was bid,
Ministering to our need.

In genial mood

While at our pastoral banquet thus we sate
Fronting the window of that little Cell,

I could not ever and anon forbear

To glance an upward look on two huge Peaks,
That from some other Vale peered into this.

"Those lusty Twins on which your eyes are cast,"

Exclaimed our Host, "if here you dwelt, would be
Your prized Companions.-Many are the notes
Which in his tuneful course the wind draws forth
From rocks, woods, caverns, heaths, and dashing shores;
And well those lofty Brethren bear their part
In the wild concert-chiefly when the storm
Rides high; then all the upper air they fill
With roaring sound, that ceases not to flow,
Like smoke, along the level of the blast
In mighty current; theirs, too, is the song
Of stream and headlong flood that seldom fails ;
And, in the grim and breathless hour of noon,
Methinks that I have heard them echo back
The thunder's greeting :-nor have Nature's laws
Left them ungifted with a power to yield
Music of finer frame; a harmony,

So do I call it, though it be the hand

Of silence, though there be no voice;-the clouds,
The mist, the shadows, light of golden suns,
Motions of moonlight, all come thither—touch,
And have an answer-thither come, and shape
A language not unwelcome to sick hearts
And idle spirits :-there the sun himself

At the calm close of summer's longest day

Rests his substantial Orb ;-between those heights
And on the top of either pinnacle,

More keenly than elsewhere in night's blue vault,
Sparkle the Stars as of their station proud.
Thoughts are not busier in the mind of man
Than the mute Agents stirring there :—alone
Here do I sit and watch.”

With brightening face

The Wanderer heard him speaking thus, and said, "Now for the Tale with which you threatened us!" "In truth the threat escaped me unawares

And was forgotten. Let this challenge stand
For my excuse, if what I shall relate

Tire your attention.-Outcast and cut off

As we seem here, and must have seemed to you
When ye looked down upon us from the crag,
Islanders of a stormy Mountain sea,

We are not so ;-perpetually we touch
Upon the vulgar ordinance of the world,
And he, whom this our Cottage hath to-day
Relinquished, was dependant for his bread
Upon the laws of public charity.

« PreviousContinue »