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And I descended. — Having reached the house,
I found its rescued inmate safely lodged,
And in serene possession of himself,
Beside a fire whose genial warmth seem'd met
By a faint shining from the heart, a gleam
Of comfort, spread over his pallid face.
Great show of joy the housewife made, and truly
Was glad to find her conscience set at ease;
And not less glad, for sake of her good name,
That the poor Sufferer had escaped with life.
But, though he seem'd at first to have received
No harm, and uncomplaining as before
Went though his usual tasks, a silent change
Soon show'd itself: he linger'd three short weeks;
And from the cottage hath been borne to-day.

So ends my dolorous tale, and glad I am
That it is ended.” At these words he turn’d,
And, with blithe air of open fellowship,
Brought from the cupboard wine and stouter cheer,
Like one who would be merry. Seeing this,
My grey-hair’d Friend said courteously, “ Nay, nay,
You have regaled us as a hermit ought;
Now let us forth into the sun!" - Our Host
Rose, though reluctantly, and forth we went.

BOOK THIRD.

DESPONDENCY.

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 pass’d,
And, deep within that lonesome valley, stood
Once more beneath the concave of a blue
And cloudless sky. Anon exclaim'd our Host,
Triumphantly dispersing with the taunt
The shade of discontent which on his brow

Had gather'd, "Yo have left my cell, - but see scribed partly from what my friend, Mr. Luff, who then lived in Paterdale, witnessed upon this melancholy occasion, and partly from what Mrs. Wordsworth' and I had seen, in company with Sir George and Lady Beaumont, above Hartshope Hall, on our way from Paterdale to Ambleside. - Author's Notes, 1813.

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 endow'd,
That the brief hours which yet remain may rear
Some recompense of knowledge or delight?
So saying, round he look'd, as if perplex'd;
And, to remove those doubts, my grey-hair'd Friend
Said, "Shall we take this pathway for our guide ?
Upward it winds, as if, in summer heats,
Its line had first been fashion’d by the flock
Seeking a place of refuge 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 its source:
Feebly it tinkles with an earthy sound,
And a few steps may bring us to the spot
Where, haply, crown'd 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 encumber'd 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 barr’d. And who,
Thought I, if master of a vacant hour,
Here would not linger, willingly detain'd?
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 discover'd to our view
A mass of rock, resembling, as it lay
Right at the foot of that moist precipice,
A stranded ship, with keel upturn'd, 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 disjoin'd, a pair were seen,
That with united shoulders bore aloft

A fragment, like an altar, flat and smooth:
Barren the tablet, yet thereon appear'd
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 enter'd. But no breeze did now
Find entrance: high or low appear’d 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 turn'd, and said,
“In sooth, with love's familiar privilege,
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,
Rear’d by th' 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 mayst resort for holier peace, —
From whose calm centre thou, through height or depth,
Mayst 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 scann'd 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 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 ? disdain'd, the game that lurks At my own door. The shapes before our eyes And their arrangement, doubtless must be deem'd 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, behoid A Druid cromlech ! — thus I entertain The antiquarian humour, and am pleased To skim along the surfaces of things, Beguiling harmlessly the listless hours. But, if the spirit be oppress'd 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 Confines the shrill-voiced whirlwind round and round Eddying within its vast circumference,

had gone

9 Cromlech is the name given to certain rude old structures, in which several stones are placed upright, and a large flat stone laid upon them; found in countries formerly inhabited by the Celts, and supposed to be the remains of druidical altars.

On Sarum's naked plain ; 1 than pyramid
Of Egypt, unsubverted, undissolved;
Or Syria’s marble ruins towering high
Above the sandy desert, in the light
Of Sun or Moon. — Forgive me, if I say
That an appearance which hath raised your minds
To an exalted pitch (the self-same cause
Different effect producing) is for me
Fraught rather with depression than delight,
Though shame it were, could I not look around,
By the reflection of your pleasure, pleased.
Yet happier, in my judgment, even than you
With your bright transports fairly may be deem'd,
The wandering Herbalist, who, clear alike
From vain, and, that worse evil, vexing thoughts,
Casts, if he ever chance to enter here,
Upon these uncouth Forms a slight regard
Of transitory interest, and peeps round
For some rare floweret of the hills, or plant
Of craggy fountain; what he hopes for wins,
Or learns, at least, that 'tis not to be won:
Then, keen and eager, as a fine-nosed hound
By soul-engrossing instinct driven along
Through wood or open field, the harmless Man
Departs, intent upon his onward quest! -
Nor is that Fellow-wanderer, so deem I,
Less to be envied, (you may trace him oft
By scars which his activity has left
Beside our roads and pathways, though, thank Heaven!
This covert nook reports not of his hand,)
He who with pocket-hammer smites the edge
Of luckless rock or prominent stone. disguised
In weather-stains or crusted o’er by Nature
With her first growths, detaching by the stroke
A chip or splinter, - to resolve his doubts;
And, with that ready answer satisfied,
The substance classes by some barbarous name,

And hurries on; or from the fragments picks 1 Sarum is an old contraction of Salisbury, and the plain so named is the largest piece of level surface in England. Formerly it was a lonely, dismal, weirel place, and is still noted for its antiquities handed down from prehistoric times; chief of which is the “huge Pile” here spoken of, a vast monument or monnd composel of earth and stones. Wordsworth elsewhere describes it as a “fabric of mysterious form,” where “winds meet in conflict, each by turns supreme.” There he laid the scene of one of his early poems, called Guilt and Sorrow, in which we have the follow. ing:

“ Pile of Stone-henge! so proud to hint yet kcep
Thy secrets, thou that lov'st to stand and hear
The Plain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep,
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year;" &c.

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