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But he, I ween, was of the north countrie;
A nation famed for song and beauty's charms;
Zealous, yet modest ; innocent, though free ;
Patient of toil, serene amid alarms,
Inflexible in faith, invincible in arms.
The shepherd-swain of whom I mention made,
On Scotia's mountains fed his little flock;
The sickle, scythe, or plough he never sway'd;
An honest heart was almost all his stock;
His drink the living water from the rock :
The milky dams supplied his board, and lent
Their kindly fleece to baffle winter's shock;
And he, though oft with dust and sweat besprent,
Did guide and guard their wanderings wheresoe'er
they went. From labour health, from health contentment
springs : Contentment opes the source of every joy. He envied not, he never thought of kings; Nor from those appetites sustain'd annoy, That chance may frustrate, or indulgence cloy; Nor Fate his calm and humble hopes beguiled ; He mourn'd no recreant friend nor mistress coy, For on his vows the blameless Phæbe smiled, And her alone he loved, and loved her from a child. No jealousy their dawn of love o'ercast, Nor blasted were their wedded days with strife ; Each season look'd delightful as it pass'd, To the fond husband and the faithful wife. Beyond the lowly vale of shepherd-life They never roam'd ; secure beneath the storm Which in Ambition's lofty land is rife, Where peace and love are canker'd by the worm Of pride, each bud of joy industrious to deform. The wight, whose tales these artless lines unfold, Was all the offspring of this humble pair : His birth no oracle or seer foretold ; No prodigy appear'd in earth or air,
Nor aught that might a strange event declare.
You guess each circumstance of Edwin's birth;
The parent's transport and the parent's care ;
The gossip's prayer for wealth, and wit, and worth;
And one long summer-day of indolence and mirth.
And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy-
Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his infant eye.
D he heeded not, nor gaud, nor toy,
Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy;
Silent when glad ; affectionate, though shy;
And now his look was most demurely sad;
And now he laugh'd aloud, yet none knew why.
The neighbours stared and sigh’d, yet bless'd the lad:
Some deem'd him wondrous wise, and some be-
lieved him mad.
But why should I his childish feats display?
Concourse, and noise, and toil he ever fled,
Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray,
Of squabbling imps; but to the forest sped,
Or roam'd at large the lonely mountain's head,
Or, where the maze of some bewilder'd stream
To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led,
There would he wander wild, till Phæbus' beam,
Shot from the western cliff, released the weary team.
Th’ exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring.
His heart, from cruel sport estranged, would bleed
To work the wo of any living thing.
By trap or net, by arrow or by sling,
These he detested, those he scorn'd to wield.
He wish'd to be the guardian, not the king,
Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field.
And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.
LO! where the stripling, wrapp'd in wonder, roves
Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine ;
And sees on high, amid th' encircling groves,
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine :
While waters, woods, and winds in concert join,
And Echo swells the chorus to the skies.
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign
For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies ?
Ah! no: he better knows great Nature's charms to
And oft he traced the uplands, to survey,
When o'er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain gray,
And lake, dim-gleaming on the smoky lawn :
Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while ;
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And villager abroad at early toil.
But lo! the sun appears! and heaven, earth, ocean
And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,
When all in mist the world below was lost.
What dreadful pleasure! there to stand sublime,
Like shipwreck'd mariner on desert coast,
And view th’ enormous waste of vapour, toss'd
In billows, length’ning to the horizon round,
Now scoop'd in gulfs, with mountains now em-
boss'd! And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound, Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar pro
In truth he was a strange and wayward wight,
Fond of each gentle and each dreadful scene.
In darkness and in storm he found delight:
Nor less than when on ocean-wave serene
The southern sun diffused his dazzling sheen.
Even sad vicissitude amused his soul :
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll,
A sigh, a tear so sweet he wish'd not to control.
“Oh ye wild groves, oh where is now your bloom !" (The Muse interprets thus his tender thought), • Your flowers, your verdure, and your balmy gloom, Of late so grateful in the hour of drought! Why do the birds, that song and rapture brought To all your bowers, their mansions now forsake ? Ah! why has fickle chance this ruin wrought ? For now the storm howls mournful through the
brake, And the dead foliage flies in many a shapeless flake. “Where now the rill, melodious, pure, and cool, And meads, with life, and mirth, and beauty crown'd ? Ah! see, th' unsightly slime and sluggish pool Have all the solitary vale imbrown'd; Fled each fair form, and mute each melting sound, The raven croaks forlorn on naked spray : And, hark! the river, bursting every mound, Down the vale thunders, and with wasteful sway Uproots the grove, and rolls the shatter'd rocks
away. “ Yet such the destiny of all on Earth: So flourishes and fades majestic Man. Fair is the bud his vernal morn brings forth, And fostering gales a while the nursling fan. Oh smile, ye Heavens serene ; ye mildews wan, Ye blighting whirlwinds, spare his balmy prime, Nor lessen of his life the little span. Borne on the swift though silent wings of Time, Old age comes on apace to ravage all the clime. " And be it so. Let those deplore their doom Whose hope still grovels in this dark sojourn : But lofty souls, who look beyond the tomb, Can smile at Fate, and wonder how they mourn. Shall Spring to these sad scenes no more return? Is yonder wave the sun's eternal bed? Soon shall the orient with new lustre burn, And Spring shall soon her vital influence shed, Again attune the grove, again adorn the mead.
« Shall I be left forgotten in the dust,
When Fate, relenting, lets the flower revive ?
Shall Nature's voice, to man alone unjust,
Bid him, though doom'd to perish, hope to live?
Is it for this fair Virtue oft must strive
With disappointment, penury, and pain ?
No: Heaven's immortal Spring shall yet arrive,
And man's majestic beauty bloom again,
Bright through th' eternal year of Love's triumphant
This truth sublime his simple sire had taught ;
In sooth, 'twas almost all the shepherd knew.
No subtle nor superfluous lore he sought,
Nor ever wish'd his Edwin to pursue.
“Let man's own sphere,” said he, “confine his view,
Be man's peculiar work his sole delight.”
And much and oft he warn'd him to eschew
Falsehood and guile, and aye maintain the right,
By pleasure unseduced, unawed by lawless might.
“ And from the prayer of Want and plaint of Wo,
Oh never, never turn away thine ear!
Forlorn, in this bleak wilderness below,
Ah! what were man, should Heaven refuse to hear?
To others do (the law is not severe)
What to thyself thou wishest to be done.
Forgive thy foes; and love thy parents dear,
And friends, and native land ; nor those alone;
All human weal and wo learn thou to make thine
See, in the rear of the warm sunny shower,
The visionary boy from shelter fly;
For now the storm of summer-rain is o'er,
And cool, and fresh, and fragrant is the sky.
And, lo! in the dark east, expanded high,
The rainbow brightens to the setting sun!
Fond fool, that deem'st the streaming glory nigh,
How vain the chase thine ardour has begun !
'Tis filed afar, ere half thy purposed race be run.