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ARGUMENT OF THE SIXTH BOOK.
BELLS at a distance. Their effect. A fine noon in winter. A sheltered walk. Meditation better than books. Our familiarity with the course of nature makes it appear less wonderful than it is. The transformation that spring effects in a shrubbery described. A mistake concerning the course of nature corrected. God maintains it by an unremitted act. The amusements fashionable at this hour of the day reproved. Animals happy, a delightful sight. Origin of cruelty to animals. That it is a great crime proved from Scripture. That proof illustrated by a tale. A line drawn between the lawful and the unlawful destruction of them. Their good and useful properties insisted on. Apology for the encomiums bestowed by the author on animals. Instances of man's extravagant praise of man. The groans of the creation shall have an end. A view taken of the restoration of all things. An Invocation and an Invitation of him who shall bring it to pass. The retired man vindicated from the charge of uselessness. Conclusion.
THE WINTER WALK AT NOON.
THERE is in souls a sympathy with sounds,
And as the mind is pitch'd the ear is pleased
With melting airs or martial, brisk or grave.
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies.
How soft the music of those village bells
Falling at intervals upon
In cadence sweet! now dying all away,
Now pealing loud again and louder still,
Clear and sonorous as the gale comes on.
With easy force it opens all the cells
Where memory slept'. Wherever I have heard
How sweet the tuneful bells' responsive peal!
As when at opening morn, the fragrant breeze
Breathes on the trembling sense of wan disease,
So piercing to my heart their force I feel.
And hark! with lessening cadence now they fall;
And now along the white and level tide
They fling the melancholy music wide;
Bidding me many a tender thought recall
Of summer days, and those delightful years
When by my native streams, on life's fair prime,
The mournful magic of their mingling chime
First waked my wondering childhood into tears!
A kindred melody, the scene recurs,
And with it all its pleasures and its pains.
Such comprehensive views the spirit takes,
That in a few short moments I retrace
(As in a map the voyager his course,)
The windings of my way through many years.
Short as in retrospect the journey seems,
It seem'd not always short; the rugged path
And prospect oft so dreary and forlorn
Moved many a sigh at its disheartening length.
Yet feeling present evils, while the past
Faintly impress the mind, or not at all,
How readily we wish time spent revoked,
That we might try the ground again, where once
(Through inexperience as we now perceive,)
We miss'd that happiness we might have found.
Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best friend
A father, whose authority, in show
When most severe2, and mustering all its force,
Was but the graver countenance of love;
Whose favour, like the clouds of spring, might lower,
And utter now and then an aweful voice,
But had a blessing in its darkest frown,
Threatening at once and nourishing the plant.
We loved, but not enough the gentle hand
That rear'd us. At a thoughtless age allured
But seeming now when all those days are o'er
The sounds of joy, once heard, and heard no more.
Bowles. At Ostend.
When angry most he seem'd, and most severe,
What else but favour, grace, and mercy shone?
By every gilded folly, we renounced
His sheltering side, and wilfully forewent
That converse which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected sire! a mother too,
That softer friend, perhaps more gladly still,
Might he demand them at the gates of death.
Sorrow has since they went subdued and tamed
The playful humour; he could now endure,
(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears,)
And feel a parent's presence no restraint.
But not to understand a treasure's worth 3
Till time has stolen away the slighted good,
Is cause of half the poverty we feel,
And makes the world the wilderness it is.
The few that pray at all pray oft amiss,
And seeking grace to improve the prize they hold 55 Would urge a wiser suit, than asking more.
The night was winter in his roughest mood, The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast, 60
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendour of the scene below.
Again the harmony comes o'er the vale,
And through the trees I view the embattled tower
Bestow a tear, nor think thy sorrow lost
Another and another should it cost:
The real worth of virtue ne'er is known
Till vanished from before our eyes and gone.