Page images
PDF
EPUB

Once," and with mild demeanour, as he spake,
On us the venerable Pastor turned
His beaming eye that had been raised to Heaven,
"Once, while the Name, Jehovah, was a sound
Within the circuit of this sea-girt isle
Unheard, the savage nations bowed the head
To Gods delighting in remorseless deeds;
Gods which themselves had fashioned, to promote
Ill purposes, and flatter foul desires.

Then, in the bosom of yon mountain-cove,
To those inventions of corrupted man
Mysterious rites were solemnised; and there-
Amid impending rocks and gloomy woods-
Of those terrific Idols some received
Such dismal service, that the loudest voice
Of the swoln cataracts (which now are heard
Soft murmuring) was too weak to overcome,
Though aided by wild winds, the groans and shrieks
Of human victims, offered up to appease

Or to propitiate. And, if living eyes

Had visionary faculties to see

The thing that hath been as the thing that is,
Aghast we might behold this crystal Mere
Bedimmed with smoke, in wreaths voluminous,
Flung from the body of devouring fires,
To Taranis erected on the heights
By priestly hands, for sacrifice performed
Exultingly, in view of open day

And full assemblage of a barbarous host;
Or to Andates, female Power! who gave
(For so they fancied) glorious victory.
-A few rude monuments of mountain-stone
Survive; all else is swept away.-How bright

The appearances of things! From such, how changed
The existing worship; and with those compared,
The worshippers how innocent and blest!
So wide the difference, a willing mind
Might almost think, at this affecting hour,
That paradise, the lost abode of man,
Was raised again: and to a happy few,
In its original beauty, here restored.

Whence but from thee, the true and only God,
And from the faith derived through Him who bled
Upon the cross, this marvellous advance
Of good from evil; as if one extreme
Were left, the other gained.-O ye, who come
To kneel devoutly in yon reverend Pile,
Called to such office by the peaceful sound
Of sabbath bells; and ye, who sleep in earth,
All cares forgotten, round its hallowed walls!
For
you, in presence of this little band
Gathered together on the green hill-side,
Your Pastor is emboldened to prefer

Vocal thanksgivings to the eternal King;
Whose love, whose counsel, whose commands, have made
Your very poorest rich in peace of thought

And in good works; and him, who is endowed
With scantiest knowledge, master of all truth
Which the salvation of his soul requires.
Conscious of that abundant favour showered
On you, the children of my humble care,
And this dear land, our country, while on earth
We sojourn, have I lifted up my soul,

Joy giving voice to fervent gratitude.
These barren rocks, your stern inheritance;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

These fertile fields, that recompense your pains;
The shadowy vale, the sunny mountain-top;
Woods waving in the wind their lofty heads,
Or hushed; the roaring waters, and the still-
They see the offering of my lifted hands,

They hear my lips present their sacrifice,

They know if I be silent, morn or even :
For, though in whispers speaking, the full heart
Will find a vent; and thought is praise to him,
Audible praise, to thee, omniscient Mind,
From whom all gifts descend, all blessings flow!"

This vesper-service closed, without delay, From that exalted station to the plain Descending, we pursued our homeward course, In mute composure, o'er the shadowy lake, Under a faded sky. No trace remained Of those celestial splendours; grey the vault-Pure, cloudless, ether; and the star of eve Was wanting; but inferior lights appeared Faintly, too faint almost for sight; and some Above the darkened hills stood boldly forth In twinkling lustre, ere the boat attained Her mooring-place; where, to the sheltering tree, Our youthful Voyagers bound fast her prow, With prompt yet careful hands. This done, we paced The dewy fields; but ere the Vicar's door Was reached, the Solitary checked his steps; Then, intermingling thanks, on each bestowed A farewell salutation; and, the like Receiving, took the slender path that leads To the one cottage in the lonely dell: But turned not without welcome promise made

That he would share the pleasures and pursuits
Of yet another summer's day, not loth

To wander with us through the fertile vales,
And o'er the mountain-wastes. "Another sun,"
Said he, "shall shine upon us, ere we part;
Another sun, and peradventure more;
If time, with free consent, be yours to give,
And season favours."

To enfeebled Power, From this communion with uninjured Minds, What renovation had been brought; and what Degree of healing to a wounded spirit, Dejected, and habitually disposed To seek, in degradation of the Kind, Excuse and solace for her own defects; How far those erring notions were reformed; And whether aught, of tendency as good And pure, from further intercourse ensued; This-if delightful hopes, as heretofore, Inspire the serious song, and gentle Hearts Cherish, and lofty Minds approve the pastMy future labours may not leave untold.

NOTES.

PREFACE TO THE EXCURSION.

Page 18.

" Descend, prophetic Spirit, that inspir'st
'The human soul,' &c.

'Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic Soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come.'

Shakspeare's Sonnets.

Page 30.

much did he see of Men.'

At the risk of giving a shock to the prejudices of artificial society, I have ever been ready to pay homage to the aristocracy of nature; under a conviction that vigorous human-heartedness is the constituent principle of true taste. It may still, however, be satisfactory to have prose testimony how far a Character, employed for purposes of imagination, is founded upon general fact. I, therefore, subjoin an extract from an author who had opportunities of being well acquainted with a class of men, from whom my own personal knowledge emboldened me to draw this portrait.

'We learn from Cæsar and other Roman Writers, that the travelling merchants who frequented Gaul and other barbarous countries, either newly conquered by the Roman arms, or bordering on the Roman conquests, were ever the first to make the inhabitants of those countries familiarly acquainted with the Roman modes of life, and to inspire them with an inclination to follow the Roman fashions, and to enjoy Roman conveniences. In North America, travelling merchants from the Settlements have done and continue to do much more towards civilising the Indian natives, than all the missionaries, papist or protestant, who have ever been sent among them.

VOL. VL

x

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »