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XIX.

FIDELITY.

[THE young man whose death gave occasion to this poem was named Charles Gough, and had come early in the spring to Paterdale for the sake of angling. While attempting to cross over Helvellyn to Grasmere he slipped from a steep part of the rock where the ice was not thawed, and perished. His body was discovered as is told in this poem. Walter Scott heard of the accident, and both he and I, without either of us knowing that the other had taken up the subject, each wrote a poem in admiration of the dog's fidelity. His contains a most beautiful

stanza :

"How long didst thou think that his silence was slumber,
When the wind waved his garmout how oft didst thou start."

I will add that the sentiment in the last four lines of the last
stanza in my verses was uttered by a shepherd with such
exactness, that a traveller, who afterwards reported his account
in print, was induced to question the man whether he had read
them, which he had not.]

A BARKING Sound the Shepherd hears,
A cry as of a dog or fox;

He halts-and searches with his eyes

Among the scattered rocks:

And now at distance can discern
A stirring in a brake of fern;
And instantly a dog is seen,
Glancing through that covert green.

The Dog is not of mountain breed;
Its motions, too, are wild and shy;
With something, as the Shepherd thinks,
Unusual in its cry:

Nor is there any one in sight
All round, in hollow or on height;
Nor shout, nor whistle strikes his ear;
What is the creature doing here?

It was a cove, a huge recess,

That keeps, till June, December's snow;
A lofty precipice in front,

A silent tarn* be'ow!

Far in the bosom of Helvellyn,
Remote from public road or dwelling,
Pathway, or cultivated land;

From trace of human foot or hand.

There sometimes doth a leaping fish
Send through the tarn a lonely cheer;
The crags repeat the raven's croak,
In symphony austere;

Thither the rainbow comes-the cloud-
And mists that spread the flying shroud;
And sunbeams; and the sounding blast,
That, if it could, would hurry past;
But that enormous barrier holds it fast.

Not free from boding thoughts, a while
The Shepherd stood; then makes his way
O'er rocks and stones, following the Dog
As quickly as he may;

Nor far had gone before he found
A human skeleton on the ground;
The appalled Discoverer with a sigh
Looks round, to learn the history.

* Tarn is a small Mere or Lake, mostly high up in the mountains,

From those abrupt and perilous rocks
The Man had fallen, that place of fear!
At length upon the Shepherd's mind
It breaks, and all is clear:

He instantly recalled the name,

And who he was, and whence he came;
Remembered, too, the very day

On which the Traveller passed this way.

But hear a wonder, for whose sake
This lamentable tale I tell!

A lasting monument of words

This wonder merits well.

The Dog, which still was hovering nigh,
Repeating the same timid cry,

This Dog, had been through three months' space

A dweller in that savage place.

Yes, proof was plain that, since the day

When this ill-fated Traveller died,

The Dog had watched about the spot,

Or by his master's side:

How nourished here through such long time
He knows, who gave that love sublime;
And gave that strength of feeling, great
Above all human estimate!

1805.

231

XX.

ODE TO DUTY.

[THIS Ode is on the model of Gray's Ode to Adversity, which is copied from Horace's Ode to Fortune. Many and many a time have I been twitted by my wife and sister for having forgotten this dedication of myself to the stern law-giver. Transgressor indeed I have been, from hour to hour, from day to day: I would fain hope however, not more flagrantly or in a worse way than most of my tuneful brethren. But these last words are in a wrong strain. We should be rigorous to ourselves and forbearing, if not indulgent, to others, and, if we make comparisons at all, it ought to be with those who have morally excelled us.]

'Jam non consilio bonus, sed more eò perductus, ut non tantum rectè facere possim, sed nisi rectè facere non possim.'

STERN Daughter of the Voice of God!

O Duty! if that name thou love
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring, and reprove;
Thou, who art victory and law

When empty terrors overawe;

From vain temptations dost set free;

And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity!

There are who ask not if thine eye

Be on them; who, in love and truth,

Where no misgiving is, rely

Upon the genial sense of youth:

Glad Hearts! without reproach or blot;

Who do thy work, and know it not:

Oh! if through confidence misplaced

[cast.

They fail, thy saving arms, dread Power! around them

Serene will be our days and bright,

And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security.

And they a blissful course may hold
Even now, who, not unwisely bold,
Live in the spirit of this creed;

Yet seek thy firm support, according to their need.

I, loving freedom, and untried;
No sport of every random gust,
Yet being to myself a guide,
Too blindly have reposed my trust:
And oft, when in my heart was heard
Thy timely mandate, I deferred
The task, in smoother walks to stray;
But thee I now would serve more strictly,

if I may.

Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought,
I supplicate for thy control;
But in the quietness of thought:
Me this unchartered freedom tires;
I feel the weight of chance-desires:
My hopes no more must change their name,
I long for a repose that ever is the same.

Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we any thing so fair
As is the smile upon thy face:

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