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Is it that Man is soon deprest ?
A thoughtless Thing! who, once unblest,
Does little on his memory rest,
Or on his reason,
And Thou would'st teach him how to find
A shelter under every wind,
A hope for times that are unkind
And every season ?
Thou wander'st the wide world about,
Uncheck'd by pride or scrupulous doubt,
With friends to greet thee, or without,
Yet pleased and willing ;
Meek, yielding to the occasion's call,
And all things suffering from all,
Thy function apostolical
In peace fulfilling,
In the School of is a tablet, on which are inscribed, in gilt
letters, the Names of the several persons who have been School-masters there since the foundation of the School, with the time at which they entered upon and quitted their office. Opposite to one of those names the Author wrote the following lines.
[SUCH a Tablet as is here spoken of continued to be preserved in
Hawkshead School, though the inscriptions were not brought down to our time. This and other poems connected with Matthew would not gain by a literal detail of facts. Like the Wanderer in “The Excursion,” this School-master was made up of several both of his class and men of other ns. I do not ask pardon for what there is of untruth in such
verses, considered strictly as matters of fact. It is enough if, being true and consistent in spirit, they move and teach in a manner not unworthy of a Poet's calling.]
If Nature, for a favourite child,
In thee hath tempered so her clay,
That every hour thy heart runs wild,
Yet never once doth go astray,
Read o'er these lines; and then review
This tablet, that thus humbly rears
In such diversity of hue
Its history of two hundred years.
– When through this little wreck of fame,
Cipher and syllable! thine eye
Has travelled down to Matthew's name,
Pause with no common sympathy.
And, if a sleeping tear should wake,
Then be it neither checked nor stayed:
For Matthew a request I make
Which for himself he had not made.
Poor Matthew, all his frolics o'er,
Is silent as a standing pool;
Far from the chimney's merry roar,
And murmur of the village school.
The sighs which Matthew heaved were sighs
Of one tired out with fun and madness;
The tears which came to Matthew's eyes
Were tears of light, the dew of gladness.
Yet, sometimes, when the secret cup
Of still and serious thought went round,
It seemed as if he drank it up,
He felt with spirit so profound.
- Thou soul of God's best earthly mould !
Thou happy Soul! and can it be
That these two words of glittering gold
Are all that must remain of thee?
We walked along, while bright and red
Uprose the morning sun;
And Matthew stopped, he looked, and said,
6. The will of God be done!”
A village schoolmaster was he,
With hair of glittering grey;
As blithe a man as you could see
On a spring holiday.
And on that morning, through the grass,
And by the steaming rills,
We travelled merrily, to pass
A day among the hills.
“Our work,” said I,“ was well begun,
Then, from thy breast what thought,
Beneath so beautiful a sun,
So sad a sigh has brought ?"
A second time did Matthew stop;
And fixing still his eye
Upon the eastern mountain-top,
To me he made reply:
"Yon cloud with that long purple cleft
Brings fresh into my mind
A day like this which I have left
Full thirty years
And just above yon slope of corn
Such colours, and no other,
Were in the sky, that April morn,
Of this the
With rod and line I sued the sport
Which that sweet season gave,
And, to the church-yard come, stopped short
Beside my daughter's grave.
Nine summers had she scarcely seen,
The pride of all the vale;
And then she sang ;-she would have been
A very nightingale.
Six feet in earth my Emma lay;
And yet I loved her more,
For so it seemed, than till that day
I e'er had loved before.
And, turning from her grave, I met,
Beside the churchyard yew,
A blooming Girl, whose hair was wet
With points of morning dew.
A basket on her head she bare;
Her brow was smooth and white:
To see a child so very fair,
It was a pure delight!
No fountain from its rocky cave
E'er tripped with foot so free;
She seemed as happy as a wave
That dances on the sea.
There came from me a sigh of pain
Which I could ill confine;
I looked at her, and looked again:
And did not wish her mine!”
Matthew is in his grave, yet now,
Methinks, I see him stand,
As at that moment, with a bough
Of wilding in his hand.
We talked with open heart, and tongue
Affectionate and true,
A pair of friends, though I was young,
And Matthew seventy-two.
We lay beneath a spreading oak,
Beside a mossy seat;
And from the turf a fountain broke,
And gurgled at our feet.