Puslapio vaizdai
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THE EXCURSION.

BOOK THE THIRD.

DESPONDENCY.

ARGUMENT.

Images in the Valley-Another Recess in it entered and described Wanderer's sensations-Solitary's, excited by the same objectsContrast between these - Despondency of the Solitary gently reproved Conversation exhibiting the Solitary's past and present opinions and feelings, till he enters upon his own History at lengthHis domestic felicity-afflictions — dejection — Roused by the French Revolution-Disappointment and disgust-Voyage to AmericaDisappointment and disgust pursue him- His return-His languor and depression of mind, from want of faith in the great truths of Religion, and want of confidence in the virtue of Mankind.

A HUMMING Bee - a little tinkling Rill-
A pair of Falcons, wheeling on the wing,
In clamorous agitation, round the crest

Of a tall rock, their airy Citadel

By each and all of these the pensive ear

Was greeted, in the silence that ensued,

When through the Cottage threshold we had passed,
And, deep within that lonesome Valley, stood
Once more, beneath the concave of a blue
And cloudless sky. Anon, exclaimed our Host,

Triumphantly dispersing with the taunt

The shade of discontent which on his brow
Had gathered, "Ye have left my cell - but see
How Nature hems you in with friendly arms!
And by her help ye are my Prisoners still.
But which way shall I lead you?-how contrive,
In Spot so parsimoniously endowed,

That the brief hours, which yet remain, may reap
Some recompense of knowledge or delight?"
So saying, round he looked, as if perplexed;
And, to remove those doubts, my gray-haired Friend
Said "Shall we take this pathway for our guide?-
Upward it winds, as if, in summer heats,

Its line had first been fashioned by the flock,
A place of refuge seeking at the root

Of yon black Yew-tree; whose protruded boughs
Darken the silver bosom of the crag,

From which she draws her meagre sustenance.
There in commodious shelter may we rest.
Or let us trace this Streamlet to his source;
Feebly it tinkles with an earthly sound,
And a few steps may bring us to the spot
Where, haply, crowned with flowerets and green herbs,
The mountain Infant to the sun comes forth,
Like human life from darkness." A quick turn
Through a strait passage of encumbered ground,
Proved that such hope was vain - for now we stood
Shut out from prospect of the open Vale,
And saw the water that composed this Rill
Descending, disembodied, and diffused
O'er the smooth surface of an ample Crag,

Lofty, and steep, and naked as a Tower.

All further progress here was barred; and who,
Thought I, if master of a vacant hour,

Here would not linger, willingly detained?

Whether to such wild objects he were led
When copious rains have magnified the stream
Into a loud and white-robed Waterfall,
Or introduced at this more quiet time.

Upon a semicirque of turf-clad ground,
The hidden nook discovered to our view
A mass of rock, resembling, as it lay
Right at the foot of that moist precipice,

A stranded Ship, with keel upturned, that rests
Fearless of winds and waves. Three several Stones
Stood near, of smaller size, and not unlike

To monumental pillars: and from these
Some little space disjoined, a pair were seen,
That with united shoulders bore aloft

A Fragment, like an Altar, flat and smooth:
Barren the tablet, yet thereon appeared
A tall and shining Holly, that had found,
A hospitable chink, and stood upright,
As if inserted by some human hand
In mockery, to wither in the sun,

Or lay its beauty flat before a breeze,
The first that entered. But no breeze did now
Find entrance; -high or low appeared no trace
Of motion, save the Water that descended,
Diffused adown that Barrier of steep rock,
And softly creeping, like a breath of air,
Such as is sometimes seen, and hardly seen,
To brush the still breast of a crystal lake.

"Behold a Cabinet for Sages built,

Which Kings might envy!" Praise to this effect Broke from the happy Old Man's reverend lip;

Who to the Solitary turned, and said,

"In sooth, with love's familiar privilege,

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You have decried the wealth which is your own,
Among these Rocks and Stones, methinks, I see
More than the heedless impress that belongs
To lonely Nature's casual work; they bear
A semblance strange of power intelligent,
And of design not wholly worn away.
Boldest of plants that ever faced the wind,
How gracefully that slender Shrub looks forth
From its fantastic birth-place! And I own,
Some shadowy intimations haunt me here,
That in these shows a chronicle survives
Of purposes akin to those of Man,

But wrought with mightier arm than now prevails.
Voiceless the Stream descends into the gulf
With timid lapse; - and lo! while in this Strait
I stand the chasm of sky above my head
Is heaven's profoundest azure; no domain
For fickle, short-lived clouds to occupy,

Or to pass through, but rather an Abyss

In which the everlasting Stars abide;

And whose soft gloom and boundless depth might tempt
The curious eye to look for them by day.
-Hail Contemplation! from the stately towers,
Reared by the industrious hand of human art

To lift thee high above the misty air
And turbulence of murmuring cities vast;
From academic groves, that have for thee
Been planted, hither come and find a Lodge
To which thou mayest resort for holier peace,
From whose calm centre, Thou, through height or depth,
Mayest penetrate, wherever Truth shall lead;
Measuring through all degrees, until the scale
Of Time and conscious Nature disappear,
Lost in unsearchable Eternity!"

A pause ensued; and with minuter care
We scanned the various features of the scene;
And soon the Tenant of that lonely Vale
With courteous Voice thus spake -

"I should have grieved

Hereafter, not escaping self-reproach,

If from my poor Retirement ye had gone
Leaving this Nook unvisited; but, in sooth,
Your unexpected presence had so roused
My spirits, that they were bent on enterprise;
And, like an ardent Hunter, I forgot,

Or, shall I say?-disdained, the game that lurks
At my own door. The shapes before our eyes
And their arrangement, doubtless must be deemed
The sport of Nature, aided by blind Chance
Rudely to mock the works of toiling Man,
And hence, this upright Shaft of unhewn stone,
From Fancy, willing to set off her stores
By sounding Titles, hath acquired the name
Of Pompey's Pillar; that I gravely style
My Theban Obelisk; and there, behold
A Druid Cromlech!-thus I entertain
The antiquarian humor, and am pleased
To skim along the surfaces of things,
Beguiling harmlessly the listless hours.
But if the spirit be oppressed by sense
Of instability, revolt, decay,

And change, and emptiness, these freaks of Nature

And her blind helper Chance, do then suffice

To quicken, and to aggravate - to feed

Pity and scorn, and melancholy pride,

Not less than that huge Pile (from some abyss
Of mortal power unquestionably sprung)
Whose hoary Diadem of pendent rocks

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