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As aptly, also, might be given
A Pencil to her hand;

That, softening objects, sometimes even
Outstrips the heart's demand;

That smoothes foregone distress, the lines
Of lingering care subdues,

Long-vanished happiness refines,
And clothes in brighter hues ;

Yet, like a tool of Fancy, works

Those Spectres to dilate

That startle Conscience, as she lurks

Within her lonely seat.

O! that our lives, which flee so fast,
In purity were such,

That not an image of the past

Should fear that pencil's touch!

Retirement then might hourly look
Upon a soothing scene,

Age steal to his allotted nook
Contented and serene;

With heart as calm as lakes that sleep,
In frosty moonlight glistening;
Or mountain rivers, where they creep
Along a channel smooth and deep,
To their own far-off murmurs listening.

XXX.

[THIS Lawn is the sloping one approaching the kitchen-garden, and was made out of it. Hundreds of times have I watched the dancing of shadows amid a press of sunshine, and other beautiful appearances of light and shade, flowers and shrubs. What a contrast between this and the cabbages and onions and carrots that used to grow there on a piece of ugly-shaped unsightly ground! No reflection however either upon cabbages or onions; the latter we know were worshipped, by the Egyptians, and he must have a poor eye for beauty who has not observed how much of it there is in the form and colour which cabbages and plants of that genus exhibit through the various stages of their growth and decay. A richer display of colour in vegetable nature can scarcely be conceived than Coleridge, my Sister, and I saw in a bed of potatoe-plants in blossom near a hut upon the moor between Inversneyd and Loch Katrine. These blossoms were of such extraordinary beauty and richness that no one could have passed them without notice. But the sense must be cultivated through the mind before we can perceive these inexhaustible treasures of Nature, for such they really are, without the least necessary reference to the utility of her productions, or even to the laws whereupon, as we learn by research, they are dependent. Some are of opinion that the habit of analysing, decomposing, and anatomising is inevitably unfavourable to the perception of beauty. People are led into this mistake by overlooking the fact that such processes being to a certain extent within the reach of a limited intellect, we are apt to ascribe to them that insensibility of which they are in truth the effect and not the cause. Admiration and love, to which all knowledge truly vital must tend, are felt by men of real genius in proportion as their discoveries in natural Philosophy are enlarged; and the beauty in form of a plant or an animal is not made less but more apparent as a whole by more accurate insight into its constituent properties and powers. A Savant who is not also a poet in soul and a religionist in heart is a feeble and unhappy creature.]

THIS Lawn, a carpet all alive

With shadows flung from leaves-to strive

In dance, amid a press

Of sunshine, an apt emblem yields
Of Worldlings revelling in the fields -
Of strenuous idleness;

Less quick the stir when tide and breeze
Encounter, and to narrow seas

Forbid a moment's rest;

The medley less when boreal Lights
Glance to and fro, like aery Sprites
To feats of arms addrest!

Yet, spite of all this eager strife,
This ceaseless play, the genuine life
That serves the stedfast hours,
Is in the grass beneath, that grows
Unheeded, and the mute repose
Of sweetly-breathing flowers.

1829.

XXXI.

HUMANITY.

[THESE verses and those entitled "Liberty" were composed as one piece which Mrs. Wordsworth complained of as unwieldy and ill-proportioned; and accordingly it was divided into two on her judicious recommendation.]

The Rocking-stones, alluded to in the beginning of the following verses, are supposed to have been used, by our British ancestors, both for judicial and religious purposes. Such stones are not uncommonly found, at this day, both in Great Britain and in Ireland.

WHAT though the Accused, upon his own appeal
To righteous Gods when man has ceased to feel,

Or at a doubting Judge's stern command,
Before the STONE OF POWER no longer stand-
To take his sentence from the balanced Block,
As, at his touch, it rocks, or seems to rock;
Though, in the depths of sunless groves, no more
The Druid-priest the hallowed Oak adore;
Yet, for the Initiate, rocks and whispering trees
Do still perform mysterious offices!

And functions dwell in beast and bird that sway
The reasoning mind, or with the fancy play,
Inviting, at all seasons, ears and eyes
To watch for undelusive auguries:-
Not uninspired appear their simplest ways;
Their voices mount symbolical of praise-
To mix with hymns that Spirits make and hear;
And to fallen man their innocence is dear.
Enraptured Art draws from those sacred springs
Streams that reflect the poetry of things!
Where christian Martyrs stand in hues portrayed,
That, might a wish avail, would never fade;
Borne in their hands the lily and the palm
Shed round the altar a celestial calm;
There, too, behold the lamb and guileless dove
Prest in the tenderness of virgin love
To saintly bosoms!-Glorious is the blending
Of right affections climbing or descending
Along a scale of light and life, with cares
Alternate; carrying holy thoughts and prayers
Up to the sovereign seat of the Most High;
Descending to the worm in charity;

Like those good Angels whom a dream of night
Gave, in the field of Luz, to Jacob's sight

All, while he slept, treading the pendent stairs
Earthward or heavenward, radiant messengers,
That, with a perfect will in one accord

Of strict obedience, serve the Almighty Lord;
And with untired humility forbore

To speed their errand by the wings they wore.
What a fair world were ours for verse to paint,
If Power could live at ease with self-restraint!
Opinion bow before the naked sense

Of the great Vision,-faith in Providence;
Merciful over all his creatures, just
To the least particle of sentient dust;
But, fixing by immutable decrees,
Seedtime and harvest for his purposes !
Then would be closed the restless oblique eye
That looks for evil like a treacherous spy;
Disputes would then relax, like stormy winds
That into breezes sink; impetuous minds
By discipline endeavour to grow meek
As Truth herself, whom they profess to seek.
Then Genius, shunning fellowship with Pride,
Would braid his golden locks at Wisdom's side;
Love ebb and flow untroubled by caprice;
And not alone harsh tyranny would cease,
But unoffending creatures find release
From qualified oppression, whose defence
Rests on a hollow plea of recompence;
Thought-tempered wrongs, for each humane respect
Oft worse to bear, or deadlier in effect.
Witness those glances of indignant scorn

From some high-minded Slave, impelled to spurn
The kindness that would make him less forlorn;

VOL. IV.

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