Smooth life had flock and shepherd in old time, Long springs and tepid winters, on the banks Of delicate Galesus [P]; and no less 175 Those scattered along Adria's myrtle shores: [Q] Smooth life had herdsman, and his snow-white herd To triumphs and to sacrificial rites Devoted, on the inviolable stream Of rich Clitumnus [R]; and the goat-herd lived 180 As calmly, underneath the pleasant brows Of cool Lucretilis [S], where the pipe was heard Of Pan, Invisible God, thrilling the rocks With tutelary music, from all harm The fold protecting. I myself, mature 185 In manhood then, have seen a pastoral tract Like one of these, where Fancy might run wild, Though under skies less generous, less serene: There, for her own delight had Nature framed A pleasure-ground, diffused a fair expanse 190 Of level pasture, islanded with groves And banked with woody risings; but the Plain [T] Endless, here opening widely out, and there Shut up in lesser lakes or beds of lawn And intricate recesses, creek or bay 195 Sheltered within a shelter, where at large The shepherd strays, a rolling hut his home. Thither he comes with spring-time, there abides All summer, and at sunrise ye may hear His flageolet to liquid notes of love 200 Attuned, or sprightly fife resounding far. Nook is there none, nor tract of that vast space Where passage opens, but the same shall have In turn its visitant, telling there his hours In unlaborious pleasure, with no task 205 More toilsome than to carve a beechen bowl For spring or fountain, which the traveller finds, When through the region he pursues at will His devious course. A glimpse of such sweet life I saw when, from the melancholy walls 210 Of Goslar, once imperial, I renewed My daily walk along that wide champaign, [U] That, reaching to her gates, spreads east and west, And northwards, from beneath the mountainous verge Of the Hercynian forest, [V] Yet, hail to you 215 Moors, mountains, headlands, and ye hollow vales, Ye long deep channels for the Atlantic's voice, [W] Powers of my native region! Ye that seize The heart with firmer grasp! Your snows and streams Ungovernable, and your terrifying winds, 220 That howl so dismally for him who treads Companionless your awful solitudes! There, 'tis the shepherd's task the winter long To wait upon the storms: of their approach Sagacious, into sheltering coves he drives 225 His flock, and thither from the homestead bears A toilsome burden up the craggy ways, And deals it out, their regular nourishment Strewn on the frozen snow. And when the spring Looks out, and all the pastures dance with lambs, 230 And when the flock, with warmer weather, climbs Higher and higher, him his office leads To watch their goings, whatsoever track The wanderers choose. For this he quits his home At day-spring, and no sooner doth the sun 235 Begin to strike him with a fire-like heat, Than he lies down upon some shining rock, And breakfasts with his dog. When they have stolen, As is their wont, a pittance from strict time, For rest not needed or exchange of love, 240 Then from his couch he starts; and now his feet Crush out a livelier fragrance from the flowers Of lowly thyme, by Nature's skill enwrought In the wild turf: the lingering dews of morn Smoke round him, as from hill to hill he hies, 245 His staff protending like a hunter's spear, Or by its aid leaping from crag to crag, And o'er the brawling beds of unbridged streams. Philosophy, methinks, at Fancy's call, Might deign to follow him through what he does 250 Or sees in his day's march; himself he feels, In those vast regions where his service lies, A freeman, wedded to his life of hope And hazard, and hard labour interchanged With that majestic indolence so dear 255 To native man. A rambling school-boy, thus I felt his presence in his own domain, As of a lord and master, or a power, Or genius, under Nature, under God, Presiding; and severest solitude 260 Had more commanding looks when he was there. When up the lonely brooks on rainy days Angling I went, or trod the trackless hills By mists bewildered, [X] suddenly mine eyes Have glanced upon him distant a few steps, 265 In size a giant, stalking through thick fog, His sheep like Greenland bears; or, as he stepped Beyond the boundary line of some hill-shadow, His form hath flashed upon me, glorified By the deep radiance of the setting sun: 270 Or him have I descried in distant sky, A solitary object and sublime, Above all height! like an aerial cross Stationed alone upon a spiry rock Of the Chartreuse, for worship. [Y] Thus was man 275 Ennobled outwardly before my sight, And thus my heart was early introduced To an unconscious love and reverence Of human nature; hence the human form To me became an index of delight, 280 Of grace and honour, power and worthiness. Meanwhile this creature—spiritual almost As those of books, but more exalted far; Far more of an imaginative form Than the gay Corin of the groves, [Z] who lives 285 For his own fancies, or to dance by the hour, In coronal, with Phyllis in the midst—[Z] Was, for the purposes of kind, a man With the most common; husband, father; learned, Could teach, admonish; suffered with the rest 290 From vice and folly, wretchedness and fear; Of this I little saw, cared less for it, But something must have felt. Call ye these appearances Which I beheld of shepherds in my youth, This sanctity of Nature given to man, 295 A shadow, a delusion? ye who pore On the dead letter, miss the spirit of things; Whose truth is not a motion or a shape Instinct with vital functions, but a block Or waxen image which yourselves have made, 300 And ye adore! But blessed be the God Of Nature and of Man that this was so; That men before my inexperienced eyes Did first present themselves thus purified, Removed, and to a distance that was fit: 305 And so we all of us in some degree Are led to knowledge, wheresoever led, And howsoever; were it otherwise, And we found evil fast as we find good In our first years, or think that it is found, 310 How could the innocent heart bear up and live! But doubly fortunate my lot; not here Alone, that something of a better life Perhaps was round me than it is the privilege Of most to move in, but that first I looked 315 At Man through objects that were great or fair; First communed with him by their help. And thus Was founded a sure safeguard and defence Against the weight of meanness, selfish cares, Coarse manners, vulgar passions, that beat in 320 On all sides from the ordinary world In which we traffic. Starting from this point I had my face turned toward the truth, began With an advantage furnished by that kind Of prepossession, without which the soul 325 Receives no knowledge that can bring forth good, No genuine insight ever comes to her. From the restraint of over-watchful eyes Preserved, I moved about, year after year, Happy, [a] and now most thankful that my walk 330 Was guarded from too early intercourse With the deformities of crowded life, And those ensuing laughters and contempts, Self-pleasing, which, if we would wish to think With a due reverence on earth's rightful lord, 335 Here placed to be the inheritor of heaven, Will not permit us; but pursue the mind, That to devotion willingly would rise, Into the temple and the temple's heart.
Yet deem not, Friend! that human kind with me 340 Thus early took a place pre-eminent; Nature herself was, at this unripe time, But secondary to my own pursuits And animal activities, and all Their trivial pleasures; [b] and when these had drooped 345 And gradually expired, and Nature, prized For her own sake, became my joy, even then—[b] And upwards through late youth, until not less Than two-and-twenty summers had been told—[c] Was Man in my affections and regards 350 Subordinate to her, her visible forms And viewless agencies: a passion, she, A rapture often, and immediate love Ever at hand; he, only a delight Occasional, an accidental grace, 355 His hour being not yet come. Far less had then The inferior creatures, beast or bird, attuned My spirit to that gentleness of love (Though they had long been carefully observed), Won from me those minute obeisances 360 Of tenderness, [d] which I may number now With my first blessings. Nevertheless, on these The light of beauty did not fall in vain, Or grandeur circumfuse them to no end.
But when that first poetic faculty 365 Of plain Imagination and severe, No longer a mute influence of the soul, Ventured, at some rash Muse's earnest call, To try her strength among harmonious words; [e] And to book-notions and the rules of art 370 Did knowingly conform itself; there came Among the simple shapes of human life A wilfulness of fancy and conceit; [e] And Nature and her objects beautified These fictions, as in some sort, in their turn, 375 They burnished her. From touch of this new power Nothing was safe: the elder-tree that grew Beside the well-known charnel-house had then A dismal look: the yew-tree had its ghost, That took his station there for ornament: 380 The dignities of plain occurrence then Were tasteless, and truth's golden mean, a point Where no sufficient pleasure could be found. Then, if a widow, staggering with the blow Of her distress, was known to have turned her steps 385 To the cold grave in which her husband slept, One night, or haply more than one, through pain Or half-insensate impotence of mind, The fact was caught at greedily, and there She must be visitant the whole year through, 390 Wetting the turf with never-ending tears.
Through quaint obliquities I might pursue These cravings; when the fox-glove, one by one, Upwards through every stage of the tall stem, Had shed beside the public way its bells, 395 And stood of all dismantled, save the last Left at the tapering ladder's top, that seemed To bend as doth a slender blade of grass Tipped with a rain-drop, Fancy loved to seat, Beneath the plant despoiled, but crested still 400 With this last relic, soon itself to fall, Some vagrant mother, whose arch little ones, All unconcerned by her dejected plight, Laughed as with rival eagerness their hands Gathered the purple cups that round them lay, 405 Strewing the turf's green slope. A diamond light (Whene'er the summer sun, declining, smote A smooth rock wet with constant springs) was seen Sparkling from out a copse-clad bank that rose Fronting our cottage. [f] Oft beside the hearth 410 Seated, with open door, often and long Upon this restless lustre have I gazed, That made my fancy restless as itself. 'Twas now for me a burnished silver shield Suspended over a knight's tomb, who lay 415 Inglorious, buried in the dusky wood: An entrance now into some magic cave Or palace built by fairies of the rock; Nor could I have been bribed to disenchant The spectacle, by visiting the spot. 420 Thus wilful Fancy, in no hurtful mood, Engrafted far-fetched shapes on feelings bred By pure Imagination: busy Power [g] She was, and with her ready pupil turned Instinctively to human passions, then 425 Least understood. Yet, 'mid the fervent swarm Of these vagaries, with an eye so rich As mine was through the bounty of a grand And lovely region, [h] I had forms distinct To steady me: each airy thought revolved 430 Round a substantial centre, which at once Incited it to motion, and controlled. I did not pine like one in cities bred, As was thy melancholy lot, dear Friend! [i] Great Spirit as thou art, in endless dreams 435 Of sickliness, disjoining, joining, things Without the light of knowledge. Where the harm, If, when the woodman languished with disease Induced by sleeping nightly on the ground Within his sod-built cabin, Indian-wise, 440 I called the pangs of disappointed love, And all the sad etcetera of the wrong, To help him to his grave? Meanwhile the man, If not already from the woods retired To die at home, was haply as I knew, 445 Withering by slow degrees, 'mid gentle airs, Birds, running streams, and hills so beautiful On golden evenings, while the charcoal pile Breathed up its smoke, an image of his ghost Or spirit that full soon must take her flight. 450 Nor shall we not be tending towards that point Of sound humanity to which our Tale Leads, though by sinuous ways, if here I shew How Fancy, in a season when she wove Those slender cords, to guide the unconscious Boy 455 For the Man's sake, could feed at Nature's call Some pensive musings which might well beseem Maturer years. A grove there is whose boughs Stretch from the western marge of Thurston-mere, [k] With length of shade so thick, that whoso glides 460 Along the line of low-roofed water, moves As in a cloister. Once—while, in that shade Loitering, I watched the golden beams of light Flung from the setting sun, as they reposed In silent beauty on the naked ridge 465 Of a high eastern hill—thus flowed my thoughts In a pure stream of words fresh from the heart: Dear native Regions, [m] wheresoe'er shall close My mortal course, there will I think on you; Dying, will cast on you a backward look; 470 Even as this setting sun (albeit the Vale Is no where touched by one memorial gleam) Doth with the fond remains of his last power Still linger, and a farewell lustre sheds On the dear mountain-tops where first he rose. 475
Enough of humble arguments; recal, My Song! those high emotions which thy voice Has heretofore made known; that bursting forth Of sympathy, inspiring and inspired, When everywhere a vital pulse was felt, 480 And all the several frames of things, like stars, Through every magnitude distinguishable, Shone mutually indebted, or half lost Each in the other's blaze, a galaxy Of life and glory. In the midst stood Man, 485 Outwardly, inwardly contemplated, As, of all visible natures, crown, though born Of dust, and kindred to the worm; a Being, Both in perception and discernment, first In every capability of rapture, 490 Through the divine effect of power and love; As, more than anything we know, instinct With godhead, and, by reason and by will, Acknowledging dependency sublime.
Ere long, the lonely mountains left, I moved, 495 Begirt, from day to day, with temporal shapes Of vice and folly thrust upon my view, Objects of sport, and ridicule, and scorn, Manners and characters discriminate, And little bustling passions that eclipse, 500 As well they might, the impersonated thought, The idea, or abstraction of the kind.
An idler among academic bowers, Such was my new condition, as at large Has been set forth; [n] yet here the vulgar light 505 Of present, actual, superficial life, Gleaming through colouring of other times, Old usages and local privilege, Was welcome, softened, if not solemnised.
This notwithstanding, being brought more near 510 To vice and guilt, forerunning wretchedness I trembled,—thought, at times, of human life With an indefinite terror and dismay, Such as the storms and angry elements Had bred in me; but gloomier far, a dim 515 Analogy to uproar and misrule, Disquiet, danger, and obscurity.
It might be told (but wherefore speak of things Common to all?) that, seeing, I was led Gravely to ponder—judging between good 520 And evil, not as for the mind's delight But for her guidance—one who was to act, As sometimes to the best of feeble means I did, by human sympathy impelled: And, through dislike and most offensive pain, 525 Was to the truth conducted; of this faith Never forsaken, that, by acting well, And understanding, I should learn to love The end of life, and every thing we know.
Grave Teacher, stern Preceptress! for at times 530 Thou canst put on an aspect most severe; London, to thee I willingly return. Erewhile my verse played idly with the flowers Enwrought upon thy mantle; satisfied With that amusement, and a simple look 535 Of child-like inquisition now and then Cast upwards on thy countenance, to detect Some inner meanings which might harbour there. But how could I in mood so light indulge, Keeping such fresh remembrance of the day, 540 When, having thridded the long labyrinth Of the suburban villages, I first Entered thy vast dominion? [o] On the roof Of an itinerant vehicle I sate, With vulgar men about me, trivial forms 545 Of houses, pavement, streets, of men and things,— Mean shapes on every side: but, at the instant, When to myself it fairly might be said, The threshold now is overpast, (how strange That aught external to the living mind 550 Should have such mighty sway! yet so it was), A weight of ages did at once descend Upon my heart; no thought embodied, no Distinct remembrances, but weight and power,— Power growing under weight: alas! I feel 555 That I am trifling: 'twas a moment's pause,— All that took place within me came and went As in a moment; yet with Time it dwells, And grateful memory, as a thing divine.
The curious traveller, who, from open day, 560 Hath passed with torches into some huge cave, The Grotto of Antiparos, [p] or the Den In old time haunted by that Danish Witch, Yordas; [q] he looks around and sees the vault Widening on all sides; sees, or thinks he sees, 565 Erelong, the massy roof above his head, That instantly unsettles and recedes,— Substance and shadow, light and darkness, all Commingled, making up a canopy Of shapes and forms and tendencies to shape 570 That shift and vanish, change and interchange Like spectres,—ferment silent and sublime! That after a short space works less and less, Till, every effort, every motion gone, The scene before him stands in perfect view 575 Exposed, and lifeless as a written book!— But let him pause awhile, and look again, And a new quickening shall succeed, at first Beginning timidly, then creeping fast, Till the whole cave, so late a senseless mass, 580 Busies the eye with images and forms Boldly assembled,—here is shadowed forth From the projections, wrinkles, cavities, A variegated landscape,—there the shape Of some gigantic warrior clad in mail, 585 The ghostly semblance of a hooded monk. Veiled nun, or pilgrim resting on his staff: Strange congregation! yet not slow to meet Eyes that perceive through minds that can inspire.
Even in such sort had I at first been moved, 590 Nor otherwise continued to be moved, As I explored the vast metropolis, Fount of my country's destiny and the world's; That great emporium, chronicle at once And burial-place of passions, and their home 595 Imperial, their chief living residence.
With strong sensations teeming as it did Of past and present, such a place must needs Have pleased me, seeking knowledge at that time Far less than craving power; yet knowledge came, 600 Sought or unsought, and influxes of power Came, of themselves, or at her call derived In fits of kindliest apprehensiveness, From all sides, when whate'er was in itself Capacious found, or seemed to find, in me 605 A correspondent amplitude of mind; Such is the strength and glory of our youth! The human nature unto which I felt That I belonged, and reverenced with love, Was not a punctual presence, but a spirit 610 Diffused through time and space, with aid derived Of evidence from monuments, erect, Prostrate, or leaning towards their common rest In earth, the widely scattered wreck sublime Of vanished nations, or more clearly drawn 615 From books and what they picture and record.
'Tis true, the history of our native land, With those of Greece compared and popular Rome, And in our high-wrought modern narratives Stript of their harmonising soul, the life 620 Of manners and familiar incidents, Had never much delighted me. And less Than other intellects had mine been used To lean upon extrinsic circumstance Of record or tradition; but a sense 625 Of what in the Great City had been done And suffered, and was doing, suffering, still, Weighed with me, could support the test of thought; And, in despite of all that had gone by, Or was departing never to return, 630 There I conversed with majesty and power Like independent natures. Hence the place Was thronged with impregnations like the Wilds In which my early feelings had been nursed— Bare hills and valleys, full of caverns, rocks, 635 And audible seclusions, dashing lakes, Echoes and waterfalls, and pointed crags That into music touch the passing wind. Here then my young imagination found No uncongenial element; could here 640 Among new objects serve or give command, Even as the heart's occasions might require, To forward reason's else too scrupulous march. The effect was, still more elevated views Of human nature. Neither vice nor guilt, 645 Debasement undergone by body or mind, Nor all the misery forced upon my sight, Misery not lightly passed, but sometimes scanned Most feelingly, could overthrow my trust In what we may become; induce belief 650 That I was ignorant, had been falsely taught, A solitary, who with vain conceits Had been inspired, and walked about in dreams. From those sad scenes when meditation turned, Lo! every thing that was indeed divine 655 Retained its purity inviolate, Nay brighter shone, by this portentous gloom Set off; such opposition as aroused The mind of Adam, yet in Paradise Though fallen from bliss, when in the East he saw 660 [r] Darkness ere day's mid course, and morning light More orient in the western cloud, that drew O'er the blue firmament a radiant white, Descending slow with something heavenly fraught. Add also, that among the multitudes 665 Of that huge city, oftentimes was seen Affectingly set forth, more than elsewhere Is possible, the unity of man, One spirit over ignorance and vice Predominant, in good and evil hearts; 670 One sense for moral judgments, as one eye For the sun's light. The soul when smitten thus By a sublime idea, whencesoe'er Vouchsafed for union or communion, feeds On the pure bliss, and takes her rest with God. 675 Thus from a very early age, O Friend! My thoughts by slow gradations had been drawn To human-kind, and to the good and ill Of human life: Nature had led me on; And oft amid the "busy hum" I seemed [s] 680 To travel independent of her help, As if I had forgotten her; but no, The world of human-kind outweighed not hers In my habitual thoughts; the scale of love, Though filling daily, still was light, compared 685 With that in which her mighty objects lay.
* * * * *
VARIANTS ON THE TEXT
... which ...
MS. letter to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
Is yon assembled in the gay green field?
MS. letter to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
... family of men, Twice twenty with their children and their wives, And here and there a stranger interspersed. Such show, on this side now, ...
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
Sees annually; if storms be not abroad And mists have left him ...
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
It is a summer Festival, a Fair, The only one which that secluded Glen Has to be proud of ...
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
... heat of noon, Behold! the cattle are driven down, the sheep That have for this day's traffic been call'd out
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
... visitant! The showman with his freight upon his back, And once, perchance, in lapse of many years
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
But one is here, ...
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
... orchard, apples, pears, (On this day only to such office stooping) She carries in her basket and walks round
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
... calling, ...
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
... rich, the old man now (l. 44) Is generous, so gaiety prevails Which all partake of, young and old. Immense (l. 55)
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
... green field:
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
... seem, Their herds and flocks about them, they themselves And all which they can further ...
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
The lurking brooks for their ...
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
And the blue sky that roofs ...
MS. to Sir George Beaumont, 1805.]
* * * * *
FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT
[Footnote A: Dorothy Wordsworth alludes to one of these "Fairs" in her Grasmere Journal, September 2, 1800. Her brothers William and John, with Coleridge, were all at Dove Cottage at that time.
"They all went to Stickle Tarn. A very fine, warm, sunny, beautiful morning. We walked to the fair. ... It was a lovely moonlight night. We talked much about our house on Helvellyn. The moonlight shone only upon the village. It did not eclipse the village lights; and the sound of dancing and merriment came along the still air. I walked with Coleridge and William up the lane and by the church...."
[Footnote B: These lines are from a descriptive Poem—'Malvern Hills'—by one of Wordsworth's oldest friends, Mr. Joseph Cottle of Bristol. Cottle was the publisher of the first edition of "Lyrical Ballads," 1798 (Mr. Carter 1850).—Ed.]
[Footnote C: The district round Cockermouth.—Ed.]
[Footnote D: Possibly an allusion to the hanging gardens of Babylon, said to have been constructed by Nebuchadnezzar for his Median queen. Berosus in Joseph, contr. Ap. I. 19, calls it a hanging Paradise (though Diodorus Siculus uses the term [Greek: kaepos]).—Ed.
The park of the Emperor of China at Gehol, is called 'Van-shoo-yuen', "the paradise of ten thousand trees." Lord Macartney concludes his description of that "wonderful garden" by saying,
"If any place can be said in any respect to have similar features to the western park of 'Van-shoo-yuen,' which I have seen this day, it is at Lowther Hall in Westmoreland, which (when I knew it many years ago) ... I thought might be reckoned ... the finest scene in the British dominions."
See Barrow's 'Travels in China', p. 134.—Ed.]
[Footnote E: 150 miles north-east of Pekin. See a description of them in Sir George Stanton's 'Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China' (from the papers of Lord Macartney), London, 1797, vol. ii. ch. ii. See also 'Encyclopaedia Britannica', ninth edition, article "Gehol."—Ed.]
[Footnote F: Compare 'Paradise Lost', iv. l. 242.—Ed.]
[Footnote G: Compare 'Kubla Khan', ll. 1, 2:
'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree.'
[Footnote H: The Hawkshead district.—Ed.]
[Footnote I: Compare 'Michael', vol. ii. p. 215, 'Fidelity', p. 44 of this vol., etc.—Ed.]
[Footnote K: See Virgil, 'AEneid' viii. 319.—Ed.]
[Footnote L: See Polybius, 'Historiarum libri qui supersunt', vi. 20, 21; and Virgil, 'Eclogue' x. 32.—Ed.]
[Footnote M: See 'As You Like It', act III. scene v.—Ed.]
[Footnote N: See 'The Winter's Tale', act IV. scene iii.—Ed.]
[Footnote O: See Spenser, 'The Shepheard's Calendar (May)'.—Ed.]
[Footnote P: An Italian river in Calabria, famous for its groves and the fine-fleeced sheep that pastured on its banks. See Virgil, 'Georgics' iv. 126; Horace, 'Odes' II. vi. 10.—Ed.]
[Footnote Q: The Adriatic Sea. See Acts xxvii. 27.—Ed.]
[Footnote R: An Umbrian river whose waters, when drunk, were supposed to make oxen white. See Virgil, 'Georgics' ii. 146; Pliny, 'Historia Naturalis', ii. 103.—Ed.]
[Footnote S: A hill in the Sabine country, overhanging a pleasant valley. Near it were the house and farm of Horace. See his 'Odes' I. xvii. 1.—Ed.]
[Footnote T: The plain at the foot of the Harz Mountains, near Goslar.—Ed.]
[Footnote U: In the Fenwick note to the poem 'Written in Germany', vol. ii. p. 73, he says that he "walked daily on the ramparts."—Ed.]
[Footnote V: 'Hercynian forest'.—(See Caesar, 'B. G.' vi. 24, 25.) According to Caesar it commenced on the east bank of the Rhine, stretching east and north, its breadth being nine days' journey, and its length sixty. Strabo (iv. p. 292) included within the Hercynia Silva all the mountains of southern and central Germany, from the Danube to Transylvania. Later, it was limited to the mountains round Bohemia and extending to Hungary. (See Tacitus, 'Germania', 28, 30; and Pliny, 'Historia Naturalis', iv. 25, 28.) A trace of the ancient name is retained in the 'Harz' mountains, which are clothed everywhere with conifers, Harz=resin.—Ed.]
[Footnote W: Yewdale, Duddondale, Eskdale, Wastdale, Ennerdale.—Ed.]
[Footnote X: Compare the sonnet in "Yarrow Revisited," etc., No. XI., 'Suggested at Tyndrum in a Storm'.—Ed.]
[Footnote Y: See book vi. l. 485 and note [Footnote Z, below].—Ed.]
[Footnote Z: Corin=Corydon? the shepherd referred to in the pastorals of Virgil and Theocritus. Phyllis, see Virgil, 'Eclogue' x. 37, 41.—Ed.]
[Footnote a: While living in Anne Tyson's Cottage at Hawkshead.—Ed.]
[Footnote b: Compare 'Tintern Abbey', vol. ii. p. 54:
'Nature then, To me was all in all, etc.'
[Footnote c: He spent his twenty-second summer at Blois, in France.—Ed.]
[Footnote d: Compare 'Hart-Leap Well', vol. ii. p. 128, and 'The Green Linnet', vol. ii. p. 367.—Ed.]
[Footnote e: The 'Evening Walk', and 'Descriptive Sketches', published 1793. See especially the original text of the latter, in the appendix to vol. 1. p. 309.—Ed.]TWO FOOTNOTES
[Footnote f: It is difficult to say where this "smooth rock wet with constant springs" and the "copse-clad bank" were. There is no copse-clad bank fronting Anne Tyson's cottage at Hawkshead. It may have been a rock on the wooded slope of the rounded hill that rises west of Cowper Ground, north-west of Hawkshead. A rock "wet with springs" existed there, till it was quarried for road-metal a few years since. But it is quite possible that the cottage referred to is Dove Cottage, Grasmere. In that case the "rock" and "copse-clad bank" may have been on Loughrigg, or more probably on Silver How. The "summer sun" goes down behind Silver How, so that it might smite a wet rock either on Hammar Scar or on the wooded crags above Red Bank. These could be seen from the window of one of the rooms of Dove Cottage. Seated beside the hearth of the "half-kitchen and half-parlour fire" in that cottage, and looking along the passage through the low door, the eye would rest on Hammar Scar, the wooded hill behind Allan Bank. The context of the poem points to Hawkshead; but the details of the description suggest the Grasmere cottage rather than Anne Tyson's.—Ed.]
[Footnote g: See the distinction drawn by Wordsworth between Fancy and Imagination in the Preface to "Lyrical Ballads" (1800 and subsequent editions), and embodied in his classification of the Poems.—Ed.]
[Footnote h: Westmoreland.—Ed.]
[Footnote i: See note [Footnote a], book ii. l. 451.—Ed.]
[Footnote k: Coniston lake; see note [Footnote m below] on the following page.—Ed.]
[Footnote m: The eight lines which follow are a recast, in the blank verse of 'The Prelude', of the youthful lines entitled 'Extract from the Conclusion of a Poem, composed in Anticipation of leaving School'. These were composed in Wordsworth's sixteenth year. As the contrast is striking, the earlier lines may be transcribed:
'Dear native regions, I foretell, From what I feel at this farewell, That, wheresoe'er my steps may tend, And whensoe'er my course shall end, If in that hour a single tie Survive of local sympathy, My soul will cast the backward view, The longing look alone on you.
Thus, while the Sun sinks down to rest Far in the regions of the west, Though to the vale no parting beam Be given, not one memorial gleam, A lingering light he fondly throws On the dear hills where first he rose.'
The Fenwick note to this poem is as follows:
"The beautiful image with which this poem concludes suggested itself to me while I was resting in a boat along with my companions under the shade of a magnificent row of sycamores, which then extended their branches from the shore of the promontory upon with stands the ancient, and at that time the more picturesque, Hall of Coniston."
There is nothing in either poem definitely to connect "Thurstonmere" with Coniston, although their identity is suggested by the Fenwick note. I find, however, that Thurston was the ancient name of Coniston; and this carries us back to the time of the worship of Thor. (See Lewis's 'Topographical Dictionary of England', vol. i. p. 662; also the 'Edinburgh Gazetteer' (1822), articles "Thurston" and "Coniston.") The site of the grove "on the shore of the promontory" at Coniston Lake is easily identified, but the grove itself is gone.—Ed.]
[Footnote n: Compare book iii. ll. 30 and 321-26; also book vi, ll. 25 and 95, both text and notes.—Ed.]
[Footnote o: Probably in 1788. Compare book vii. ll. 61-68, and note [Footnote K].—Ed.]
[Footnote p: A stalactite cave, in a mountain in the south coast of the island of Antiparos, which is one of the Cyclades. It is six miles from Paros, was famous in ancient times, and was rediscovered in 1673.—Ed.]
[Footnote q: There is a cave, called Yordas Cave, four and a half miles from Ingleton in Lonsdale, Yorkshire. It is a limestone cavern, rich in stalactites, like the grotto of Antiparos; and is at the foot of the slopes of Gragreth, formerly called Greg-roof. It gets its name from a traditional giant 'Yordas'; some of its recesses being called "Yordas' bed-chamber," "Yordas' oven," etc. See Allen's 'County of York', iii. p. 359; also Bigland's "Yorkshire" in 'The Beauties of England and Wales', vol. xvi. p. 735, and Murray's 'Handbook for Yorkshire', p. 392.—Ed.]
[Footnote r: From Milton, 'Paradise Lost', book xi. 1. 204:
'Why in the East Darkness ere day's mid-course, and Morning light More orient in yon Western Cloud, that draws O'er the blue Firmament a radiant white, And slow descends, with something heav'nly fraught?'
[Footnote s: See 'L'Allegro', l. 118.—Ed.]
* * * * *
RESIDENCE IN FRANCE
Even as a river,—partly (it might seem) Yielding to old remembrances, and swayed In part by fear to shape a way direct, That would engulph him soon in the ravenous sea— Turns, and will measure back his course, far back, 5 Seeking the very regions which he crossed In his first outset; so have we, my Friend! Turned and returned with intricate delay. Or as a traveller, who has gained the brow Of some aerial Down, while there he halts 10 For breathing-time, is tempted to review The region left behind him; and, if aught Deserving notice have escaped regard, Or been regarded with too careless eye, Strives, from that height, with one and yet one more 15 Last look, to make the best amends he may: So have we lingered. Now we start afresh With courage, and new hope risen on our toil Fair greetings to this shapeless eagerness, Whene'er it comes! needful in work so long, 20 Thrice needful to the argument which now Awaits us! Oh, how much unlike the past!
Free as a colt at pasture on the hill, I ranged at large, through London's wide domain, Month after month [A]. Obscurely did I live, 25 Not seeking frequent intercourse with men, By literature, or elegance, or rank, Distinguished. Scarcely was a year thus spent [A] Ere I forsook the crowded solitude, With less regret for its luxurious pomp, 30 And all the nicely-guarded shows of art, Than for the humble book-stalls in the streets, Exposed to eye and hand where'er I turned.
France lured me forth; the realm that I had crossed So lately [B], journeying toward the snow-clad Alps. 35 But now, relinquishing the scrip and staff, And all enjoyment which the summer sun Sheds round the steps of those who meet the day With motion constant as his own, I went Prepared to sojourn in a pleasant town, [C] 40 Washed by the current of the stately Loire.
Through Paris lay my readiest course, and there Sojourning a few days, I visited, In haste, each spot of old or recent fame, The latter chiefly; from the field of Mars 45 Down to the suburbs of St. Antony, And from Mont Martyr southward to the Dome Of Genevieve [D]. In both her clamorous Halls, The National Synod and the Jacobins, I saw the Revolutionary Power 50 Toss like a ship at anchor, rocked by storms; [E] The Arcades I traversed, in the Palace huge Of Orleans; [F] coasted round and round the line Of Tavern, Brothel, Gaming-house, and Shop, Great rendezvous of worst and best, the walk 55 Of all who had a purpose, or had not; I stared and listened, with a stranger's ears, To Hawkers and Haranguers, hubbub wild! And hissing Factionists with ardent eyes, In knots, or pairs, or single. Not a look 60 Hope takes, or Doubt or Fear is forced to wear, But seemed there present; and I scanned them all, Watched every gesture uncontrollable, Of anger, and vexation, and despite, All side by side, and struggling face to face, 65 With gaiety and dissolute idleness.
Where silent zephyrs sported with the dust Of the Bastille, I sate in the open sun, And from the rubbish gathered up a stone, And pocketed the relic, [G] in the guise 70 Of an enthusiast; yet, in honest truth, I looked for something that I could not find, Affecting more emotion than I felt; For 'tis most certain, that these various sights, However potent their first shock, with me 75 Appeared to recompense the traveller's pains Less than the painted Magdalene of Le Brun, [H] A beauty exquisitely wrought, with hair Dishevelled, gleaming eyes, and rueful cheek Pale and bedropped with everflowing tears. 80
But hence to my more permanent abode I hasten; there, by novelties in speech, Domestic manners, customs, gestures, looks, And all the attire of ordinary life, Attention was engrossed; and, thus amused, 85 I stood, 'mid those concussions, unconcerned, Tranquil almost, and careless as a flower Glassed in a green-house, or a parlour shrub That spreads its leaves in unmolested peace, While every bush and tree, the country through, 90 Is shaking to the roots: indifference this Which may seem strange: but I was unprepared With needful knowledge, had abruptly passed Into a theatre, whose stage was filled And busy with an action far advanced. 95 Like others, I had skimmed, and sometimes read With care, the master pamphlets of the day; Nor wanted such half-insight as grew wild Upon that meagre soil, helped out by talk And public news; but having never seen 100 A chronicle that might suffice to show Whence the main organs of the public power Had sprung, their transmigrations, when and how Accomplished, giving thus unto events A form and body; all things were to me 105 Loose and disjointed, and the affections left Without a vital interest. At that time, Moreover, the first storm was overblown, And the strong hand of outward violence Locked up in quiet. For myself, I fear 110 Now in connection with so great a theme To speak (as I must be compelled to do) Of one so unimportant; night by night Did I frequent the formal haunts of men, Whom, in the city, privilege of birth 115 Sequestered from the rest, societies Polished in arts, and in punctilio versed; Whence, and from deeper causes, all discourse Of good and evil of the time was shunned With scrupulous care; but these restrictions soon 120 Proved tedious, and I gradually withdrew Into a noisier world, and thus ere long Became a patriot; and my heart was all Given to the people, and my love was theirs.
A band of military Officers, 125 Then stationed in the city, were the chief Of my associates: some of these wore swords That had been seasoned in the wars, and all Were men well-born; the chivalry of France. In age and temper differing, they had yet 130 One spirit ruling in each heart; alike (Save only one, hereafter to be named) [I] Were bent upon undoing what was done: This was their rest and only hope; therewith No fear had they of bad becoming worse, 135 For worst to them was come; nor would have stirred, Or deemed it worth a moment's thought to stir, In any thing, save only as the act Looked thitherward. One, reckoning by years, Was in the prime of manhood, and erewhile 140 He had sate lord in many tender hearts; Though heedless of such honours now, and changed: His temper was quite mastered by the times, And they had blighted him, had eaten away The beauty of his person, doing wrong 145 Alike to body and to mind: his port, Which once had been erect and open, now Was stooping and contracted, and a face, Endowed by Nature with her fairest gifts Of symmetry and light and bloom, expressed, 150 As much as any that was ever seen, A ravage out of season, made by thoughts Unhealthy and vexatious. With the hour, That from the press of Paris duly brought Its freight of public news, the fever came, 155 A punctual visitant, to shake this man, Disarmed his voice and fanned his yellow cheek Into a thousand colours; while he read, Or mused, his sword was haunted by his touch Continually, like an uneasy place 160 In his own body. 'Twas in truth an hour Of universal ferment; mildest men Were agitated; and commotions, strife Of passion and opinion, filled the walls Of peaceful houses with unquiet sounds. 165 The soil of common life, was, at that time, Too hot to tread upon. Oft said I then, And not then only, "What a mockery this Of history, the past and that to come! Now do I feel how all men are deceived, 170 Reading of nations and their works, in faith, Faith given to vanity and emptiness; Oh! laughter for the page that would reflect To future times the face of what now is!" The land all swarmed with passion, like a plain 175 Devoured by locusts,—Carra, Gorsas,—add A hundred other names, forgotten now, [K] Nor to be heard of more; yet, they were powers, Like earthquakes, shocks repeated day by day, And felt through every nook of town and field. 180
Such was the state of things. Meanwhile the chief Of my associates stood prepared for flight To augment the band of emigrants in arms [L] Upon the borders of the Rhine, and leagued With foreign foes mustered for instant war. 185 This was their undisguised intent, and they Were waiting with the whole of their desires The moment to depart. An Englishman, Born in a land whose very name appeared To license some unruliness of mind; 190 A stranger, with youth's further privilege, And the indulgence that a half-learnt speech Wins from the courteous; I, who had been else Shunned and not tolerated, freely lived With these defenders of the Crown, and talked, 195 And heard their notions; nor did they disdain The wish to bring me over to their cause.
But though untaught by thinking or by books To reason well of polity or law, And nice distinctions, then on every tongue, 200 Of natural rights and civil; and to acts Of nations and their passing interests, (If with unworldly ends and aims compared) Almost indifferent, even the historian's tale Prizing but little otherwise than I prized 205 Tales of the poets, as it made the heart Beat high, and filled the fancy with fair forms, Old heroes and their sufferings and their deeds; Yet in the regal sceptre, and the pomp Of orders and degrees, I nothing found 210 Then, or had ever, even in crudest youth, That dazzled me, but rather what I mourned And ill could brook, beholding that the best Ruled not, and feeling that they ought to rule.
For, born in a poor district, and which yet 215 Retaineth more of ancient homeliness, Than any other nook of English ground, It was my fortune scarcely to have seen, Through the whole tenor of my school-day time, The face of one, who, whether boy or man, 220 Was vested with attention or respect Through claims of wealth or blood; nor was it least Of many benefits, in later years Derived from academic institutes And rules, that they held something up to view 225 Of a Republic, where all stood thus far Upon equal ground; that we were brothers all In honour, as in one community, Scholars and gentlemen; where, furthermore, Distinction open lay to all that came, 230 And wealth and titles were in less esteem Than talents, worth, and prosperous industry. Add unto this, subservience from the first To presences of God's mysterious power Made manifest in Nature's sovereignty, 235 And fellowship with venerable books, To sanction the proud workings of the soul, And mountain liberty. It could not be But that one tutored thus should look with awe Upon the faculties of man, receive 240 Gladly the highest promises, and hail, As best, the government of equal rights And individual worth. And hence, O Friend! If at the first great outbreak I rejoiced Less than might well befit my youth, the cause 245 In part lay here, that unto me the events Seemed nothing out of nature's certain course, A gift that was come rather late than soon. No wonder, then, if advocates like these, Inflamed by passion, blind with prejudice, 250 And stung with injury, at this riper day, Were impotent to make my hopes put on The shape of theirs, my understanding bend In honour to their honour: zeal, which yet Had slumbered, now in opposition burst 255 Forth like a Polar summer: every word They uttered was a dart, by counter-winds Blown back upon themselves; their reason seemed Confusion-stricken by a higher power Than human understanding, their discourse 260 Maimed, spiritless; and, in their weakness strong, I triumphed.
Meantime, day by day, the roads Were crowded with the bravest youth of France, [M] And all the promptest of her spirits, linked In gallant soldiership, and posting on 265 To meet the war upon her frontier bounds. Yet at this very moment do tears start Into mine eyes: I do not say I weep— I wept not then,—but tears have dimmed my sight, In memory of the farewells of that time, 270 Domestic severings, female fortitude At dearest separation, patriot love And self-devotion, and terrestrial hope, Encouraged with a martyr's confidence; Even files of strangers merely seen but once, 275 And for a moment, men from far with sound Of music, martial tunes, and banners spread, Entering the city, here and there a face, Or person singled out among the rest, Yet still a stranger and beloved as such; 280 Even by these passing spectacles my heart Was oftentimes uplifted, and they seemed Arguments sent from Heaven to prove the cause Good, pure, which no one could stand up against, Who was not lost, abandoned, selfish, proud, 285 Mean, miserable, wilfully depraved, Hater perverse of equity and truth.
Among that band of Officers was one, Already hinted at, [N] of other mould— A patriot, thence rejected by the rest, 290 And with an oriental loathing spurned, As of a different caste. A meeker man Than this lived never, nor a more benign, Meek though enthusiastic. Injuries Made him more gracious, and his nature then 295 Did breathe its sweetness out most sensibly, As aromatic flowers on Alpine turf, When foot hath crushed them. He through the events Of that great change wandered in perfect faith, As through a book, an old romance, or tale 300 Of Fairy, or some dream of actions wrought Behind the summer clouds. By birth he ranked With the most noble, but unto the poor Among mankind he was in service bound, As by some tie invisible, oaths professed 305 To a religious order. Man he loved As man; and, to the mean and the obscure, And all the homely in their homely works, Transferred a courtesy which had no air Of condescension; but did rather seem 310 A passion and a gallantry, like that Which he, a soldier, in his idler day Had paid to woman: somewhat vain he was, Or seemed so, yet it was not vanity, But fondness, and a kind of radiant joy 315 Diffused around him, while he was intent On works of love or freedom, or revolved Complacently the progress of a cause, Whereof he was a part: yet this was meek And placid, and took nothing from the man 320 That was delightful. Oft in solitude With him did I discourse about the end Of civil government, and its wisest forms; Of ancient loyalty, and chartered rights, Custom and habit, novelty and change; 325 Of self-respect, and virtue in the few For patrimonial honour set apart, And ignorance in the labouring multitude. For he, to all intolerance indisposed, Balanced these contemplations in his mind; 330 And I, who at that time was scarcely dipped Into the turmoil, bore a sounder judgment Than later days allowed; carried about me, With less alloy to its integrity, The experience of past ages, as, through help 335 Of books and common life, it makes sure way To youthful minds, by objects over near Not pressed upon, nor dazzled or misled By struggling with the crowd for present ends.
But though not deaf, nor obstinate to find 340 Error without excuse upon the side Of them who strove against us, more delight We took, and let this freely be confessed, In painting to ourselves the miseries Of royal courts, and that voluptuous life 345 Unfeeling, where the man who is of soul The meanest thrives the most; where dignity, True personal dignity, abideth not; A light, a cruel, and vain world cut off From the natural inlets of just sentiment, 350 From lowly sympathy and chastening truth; Where good and evil interchange their names, And thirst for bloody spoils abroad is paired With vice at home. We added dearest themes— Man and his noble nature, as it is 355 The gift which God has placed within his power, His blind desires and steady faculties Capable of clear truth, the one to break Bondage, the other to build liberty On firm foundations, making social life, 360 Through knowledge spreading and imperishable, As just in regulation, and as pure As individual in the wise and good.
We summoned up the honourable deeds Of ancient Story, thought of each bright spot, 365 That would be found in all recorded time, Of truth preserved and error passed away; Of single spirits that catch the flame from Heaven, And how the multitudes of men will feed And fan each other; thought of sects, how keen 370 They are to put the appropriate nature on, Triumphant over every obstacle Of custom, language, country, love, or hate, And what they do and suffer for their creed; How far they travel, and how long endure; 375 How quickly mighty Nations have been formed, From least beginnings; how, together locked By new opinions, scattered tribes have made One body, spreading wide as clouds in heaven. To aspirations then of our own minds 380 Did we appeal; and, finally, beheld A living confirmation of the whole Before us, in a people from the depth Of shameful imbecility uprisen, Fresh as the morning star. Elate we looked 385 Upon their virtues; saw, in rudest men, Self-sacrifice the firmest; generous love, And continence of mind, and sense of right, Uppermost in the midst of fiercest strife.
Oh, sweet it is, in academic groves, 390 Or such retirement, Friend! as we have known In the green dales beside our Rotha's stream, Greta, or Derwent, or some nameless rill, To ruminate, with interchange of talk, On rational liberty, and hope in man, 395 Justice and peace. But far more sweet such toil— Toil, say I, for it leads to thoughts abstruse— If nature then be standing on the brink Of some great trial, and we hear the voice Of one devoted, one whom circumstance 400 Hath called upon to embody his deep sense In action, give it outwardly a shape, And that of benediction, to the world. Then doubt is not, and truth is more than truth,— A hope it is, and a desire; a creed 405 Of zeal, by an authority Divine Sanctioned, of danger, difficulty, or death. Such conversation, under Attic shades, Did Dion hold with Plato; [O] ripened thus For a Deliverer's glorious task,—and such 410 He, on that ministry already bound, Held with Eudemus and Timonides, [P] Surrounded by adventurers in arms, When those two vessels with their daring freight, For the Sicilian Tyrant's overthrow, 415 Sailed from Zacynthus,—philosophic war, Led by Philosophers. [Q] With harder fate, Though like ambition, such was he, O Friend! Of whom I speak. So Beaupuis (let the name Stand near the worthiest of Antiquity) 420 Fashioned his life; and many a long discourse, With like persuasion honoured, we maintained: He, on his part, accoutred for the worst. He perished fighting, in supreme command, Upon the borders of the unhappy Loire, 425 For liberty, against deluded men, His fellow country-men; and yet most blessed In this, that he the fate of later times Lived not to see, nor what we now behold, Who have as ardent hearts as he had then. 430
Along that very Loire, with festal mirth Resounding at all hours, and innocent yet Of civil slaughter, was our frequent walk; Or in wide forests of continuous shade, Lofty and over-arched, with open space 435 Beneath the trees, clear footing many a mile— A solemn region. Oft amid those haunts, From earnest dialogues I slipped in thought, And let remembrance steal to other times, When, o'er those interwoven roots, moss-clad, 440 And smooth as marble or a waveless sea, Some Hermit, from his cell forth-strayed, might pace In sylvan meditation undisturbed; As on the pavement of a Gothic church Walks a lone Monk, when service hath expired, 445 In peace and silence. But if e'er was heard,— Heard, though unseen,—a devious traveller, Retiring or approaching from afar With speed and echoes loud of trampling hoofs From the hard floor reverberated, then 450 It was Angelica [R] thundering through the woods Upon her palfrey, or that gentle maid Erminia, [S] fugitive as fair as she. Sometimes methought I saw a pair of knights Joust underneath the trees, that as in storm 455 Rocked high above their heads; anon, the din Of boisterous merriment, and music's roar, In sudden proclamation, burst from haunt Of Satyrs in some viewless glade, with dance Rejoicing o'er a female in the midst, 460 A mortal beauty, their unhappy thrall. The width of those huge forests, unto me A novel scene, did often in this way Master my fancy while I wandered on With that revered companion. And sometimes—465 When to a convent in a meadow green, By a brook-side, we came, a roofless pile, And not by reverential touch of Time Dismantled, but by violence abrupt— In spite of those heart-bracing colloquies, 470 In spite of real fervour, and of that Less genuine and wrought up within myself— I could not but bewail a wrong so harsh, And for the Matin-bell to sound no more Grieved, and the twilight taper, and the cross 475 High on the topmost pinnacle, a sign (How welcome to the weary traveller's eyes!) Of hospitality and peaceful rest. And when the partner of those varied walks Pointed upon occasion to the site 480 Of Romorentin, home of ancient kings, [T] To the imperial edifice of Blois, [U] Or to that rural castle, name now slipped From my remembrance, where a lady lodged, [V] By the first Francis wooed, and bound to him 485 In chains of mutual passion, from the tower, As a tradition of the country tells, Practised to commune with her royal knight By cressets and love-beacons, intercourse 'Twixt her high-seated residence and his 490 Far off at Chambord on the plain beneath; [W] Even here, though less than with the peaceful house Religious, 'mid those frequent monuments Of Kings, their vices and their better deeds, Imagination, potent to inflame 495 At times with virtuous wrath and noble scorn, Did also often mitigate the force Of civic prejudice, the bigotry, So call it, of a youthful patriot's mind; And on these spots with many gleams I looked 500 Of chivalrous delight. Yet not the less, Hatred of absolute rule, where will of one Is law for all, and of that barren pride In them who, by immunities unjust, Between the sovereign and the people stand, 505 His helper and not theirs, laid stronger hold Daily upon me, mixed with pity too And love; for where hope is, there love will be For the abject multitude. And when we chanced One day to meet a hunger-bitten girl, 510 Who crept along fitting her languid gait Unto a heifer's motion, by a cord Tied to her arm, and picking thus from the lane Its sustenance, while the girl with pallid hands Was busy knitting in a heartless mood 515 Of solitude, and at the sight my friend In agitation said, "'Tis against 'that' That we are fighting," I with him believed That a benignant spirit was abroad Which might not be withstood, that poverty 520 Abject as this would in a little time Be found no more, that we should see the earth Unthwarted in her wish to recompense The meek, the lowly, patient child of toil, All institutes for ever blotted out 525 That legalised exclusion, empty pomp Abolished, sensual state and cruel power, Whether by edict of the one or few; And finally, as sum and crown of all, Should see the people having a strong hand 530 In framing their own laws; whence better days To all mankind. But, these things set apart, Was not this single confidence enough To animate the mind that ever turned A thought to human welfare? That henceforth 535 Captivity by mandate without law Should cease; and open accusation lead To sentence in the hearing of the world, And open punishment, if not the air Be free to breathe in, and the heart of man 540 Dread nothing. From this height I shall not stoop To humbler matter that detained us oft In thought or conversation, public acts, And public persons, and emotions wrought Within the breast, as ever-varying winds 545 Of record or report swept over us; But I might here, instead, repeat a tale, [X] Told by my Patriot friend, of sad events, That prove to what low depth had struck the roots, How widely spread the boughs, of that old tree 550 Which, as a deadly mischief, and a foul And black dishonour, France was weary of.
Oh, happy time of youthful lovers, (thus The story might begin). Oh, balmy time, In which a love-knot, on a lady's brow, 555 Is fairer than the fairest star in Heaven! [Y] So might—and with that prelude did begin The record; and, in faithful verse, was given The doleful sequel.
But our little bark On a strong river boldly hath been launched; 560 And from the driving current should we turn To loiter wilfully within a creek, Howe'er attractive, Fellow voyager! Would'st thou not chide? Yet deem not my pains lost: For Vaudracour and Julia (so were named 565 The ill-fated pair) in that plain tale will draw Tears from the hearts of others, when their own Shall beat no more. Thou, also, there may'st read, At leisure, how the enamoured youth was driven, By public power abased, to fatal crime, 570 Nature's rebellion against monstrous law; How, between heart and heart, oppression thrust Her mandates, severing whom true love had joined, Harassing both; until he sank and pressed The couch his fate had made for him; supine, 575 Save when the stings of viperous remorse, Trying their strength, enforced him to start up, Aghast and prayerless. Into a deep wood He fled, to shun the haunts of human kind; There dwelt, weakened in spirit more and more; 580 Nor could the voice of Freedom, which through France Full speedily resounded, public hope, Or personal memory of his own worst wrongs, Rouse him; but, hidden in those gloomy shades, His days he wasted,—an imbecile mind. [Z] 585
* * * * *
FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT
[Footnote A: This must either mean a year from the time at which he took his degree at Cambridge, or it is inaccurate as to date. He graduated in January 1791, and left Brighton for Paris in November 1791. In London he only spent four months, the February, March, April, and May of 1791. Then followed the Welsh tour with Jones, and his return to Cambridge in September 1791.—Ed.]
[Footnote B: With Jones in the previous year, 1790.—Ed.]
[Footnote C: Orleans.—Ed.]
[Footnote D: The Champ de Mars is in the west, the Rue du Faubourg St. Antoine (the old suburb of St. Antony) in the east, Montmartre in the north, and the dome of St. Genevieve, commonly called the Pantheon, in the south of Paris.—Ed.]
[Footnote E: The clergy, noblesse, and the 'tiers etat' met at Notre Dame on the 4th May 1789. On the following day, at Versailles, the 'tiers etat' assumed the title of the 'National Assembly'—constituting themselves the sovereign power—and invited others to join them. The club of the Jacobins was instituted the same year. It leased for itself the hall of the Jacobins' convent: hence the name.—Ed.]
[Footnote F: The Palais Royal, built by Cardinal Richelieu in 1636, presented by Louis XIV. to his brother, the Duke of Orleans, and thereafter the property of the house of Orleans (hence the name). The "arcades" referred to were removed in 1830, and the brilliant 'Galerie d'Orleans' built in their place.—Ed.]
[Footnote G: On the 14th July 1789, the Bastille was taken, and destroyed by the Revolutionists. The stones were used, for the most part, in the construction of the Pont de la Concorde.—Ed.]
[Footnote H: Charles Lebrun, Court painter to Louis XIV. of France (1619-1690)—Ed.]
[Footnote I: The Republican general, Michel Beaupuy. See p. 302 [Footnote N below], and the note upon him by Mons. Emile Legouis of Lyons, in the appendix [Note VII] to this volume, p. 401.—Ed.]
[Footnote K: Carra and Gorsas were journalist deputies in the first year of the French Republic. Gorsas was the first of the deputies who died on the scaffold. Carlyle thus refers to them, and to the "hundred other names forgotten now," in his 'French Revolution' (vol. iii. book i. chap. 7):
"The convention is getting chosen—really in a decisive spirit. Some two hundred of our best Legislators may be re-elected, the Mountain bodily. Robespierre, with Mayor Petion, Buzot, Curate Gregoire and some threescore Old Constituents; though we men had only thirty voices. All these and along with them friends long known to the Revolutionary fame: Camille Desmoulins, though he stutters in speech, Manuel Tallein and Company; Journalists Gorsas, Carra, Mersier, Louvet of Faubias; Clootz, Speaker of Mankind, Collet d'Herbois, tearing a passion to rags; Fahre d'Egalantine Speculative Pamphleteer; Legendre, the solid Butcher; nay Marat though rural France can hardly believe it, or even believe there is a Marat, except in print." Ed.]
[Footnote L: Many of the old French Noblesse, and other supporters of Monarchy, fled across the Rhine, and with thousands of emigres formed a special Legion, which co-operated with the German army under the Emperor Leopold and the King of Prussia.—Ed.]
[Footnote M: Compare book vi. l. 345, etc.—Ed.]
[Footnote N: Beaupuy. See p. 297 [Footnote I, above]:
"Save only one, hereafter to be named," [Line 132]
and the note on Beaupuy, in the appendix [Note VII] to this volume, p. 401.—Ed.]
[Footnote O: Compare Wordsworth's poem 'Dion', in volume vi. of this edition.—Ed.]
[Footnote P: When Plato visited Syracuse, in the reign of Dionysius, Dion became his disciple, and induced Dionysius to invite Plato a second time to Syracuse. But neither Plato nor Dion could succeed in their efforts to influence and elevate Dionysius. Dion withdrew to Athens, and lived in close intimacy with Plato, and with Speusippus. The latter urged him to return, and deliver Sicily from the tyrant Dionysius, who had become unpopular in the island. Dion got some of the Syracusan exiles in Greece to join him, and "sailed from Zacynthus," with two merchant ships, and about 800 troops. He took Syracuse, and became dictator of the district. But—as was the case with the tyrants of the French Revolution who took the place of those of the old regime (record later on in 'The Prelude')—the Syracusans found that they had only exchanged one form of rigour for another. It is thus that Plutarch refers to the occurrence.
"Many statesmen and philosophers assisted him (i. e. Dion); "as for instance, Eudemus, the Cyprian, on whose death Aristotle wrote his dialogue of the Soul, and Timonides the Leucadian."
(See Plutarch's 'Dion'.) Timonides wrote an account of Dion's campaign in Sicily in certain letters to Speusippus, which are referred to both by Plutarch and by Diogenes Laertius,—Ed.]
[Footnote Q: See the previous note [Footnote P directly above].—Ed.]
[Footnote R: See the 'Orlando Furioso' of Ariosto, canto i.:
'La donna il palafreno a dietro volta, E per la selva a tutta briglia il caccia; Ne per la rara piu, che per la folta, La piu sicura e miglior via procaccia.
The lady turned her palfrey round, And through the forest drove him on amain; Nor did she choose the glade before the thickest wood, Riding the safest ever, and the better way.'
[Footnote S: See the 'Gerusalemme Liberata' of Tasso, canto vi. Erminia is the heroine of 'Jerusalem Delivered'. An account of her flight occurs at the opening of the seventh canto.—Ed.]
"Rivus Romentini, petite ville du Blaisois, et capitale de la Sologne, aujourd'hui sous-prefecture du depart. de Loir-et-Cher."
It was taken in 1356 and in 1429 by the English, in 1562 by the Catholics, in 1567 by the Calvinists, and in 1589 by the Royalists.
"Henri IV. l'erigea en comte pour sa maitresse Charlotte des Essarts, 1560. Francois I. y rendit un edit celebre qui attribuait aux prelats la connaissance du crime d'heresie, et la repression des assemblees illicites."
('Dictionnaire Historique de la France', par Ludovic Lalaune. Paris, 1872.)—Ed.]
[Footnote U: Blois,
"Louis XII., qui etait ne a Blois, y sejourna souvent, et reconstruisit completement le chateau, ou la cour habita frequemment au XVI'e. siecle."
('Dict. Histor. de la France', Lalaune.) The town is full of historical reminiscences of Louis XII., Francis I., Henry III., and Catherine and Mary de Medici. Wordsworth went from Orleans to Blois, in the spring of 1792.—Ed.]
[Footnote V: Claude, the daughter of Louis XII.—Ed.]
[Footnote W: Chambord;
"celebre chateau du Blaisois (Loir-et-Cher), construit par Francois I., sur l'emplacement d'une maison de plaisance des comtes de Blois. Donne par Louis XV. a son beau-pere Stanislas, puis au Marechal de Saxe, il revint ensuit a la couronne; et en 1777 Louis XVI. en accorda la jouissance a la famille de Polignac."
A national subscription was got up in the 'twenties, under Charles X., to present the chateau to the posthumous son of the Duc de Berry, who afterwards became known as the Comte de Chambord, or Henri V.—Ed.]
[Footnote X: The tale of 'Vaudracour and Julia'. (Mr. Carter, 1850.)]
[Footnote Y: The previous four lines are the opening ones of the poem 'Vaudracour and Julia'. (See p. 24.)—Ed.]
[Footnote Z: The last five lines are almost a reproduction of the concluding five in 'Vaudracour and Julia'.—Ed.]
* * * * *
RESIDENCE IN FRANCE—'continued'
It was a beautiful and silent day That overspread the countenance of earth, Then fading with unusual quietness,— A day as beautiful as e'er was given To soothe regret, though deepening what it soothed, 5 When by the gliding Loire I paused, and cast Upon his rich domains, vineyard and tilth, Green meadow-ground, and many-coloured woods, Again, and yet again, a farewell look; Then from the quiet of that scene passed on, 10 Bound to the fierce Metropolis. [A] From his throne The King had fallen, [B] and that invading host— Presumptuous cloud, on whose black front was written The tender mercies of the dismal wind That bore it—on the plains of Liberty 15 Had burst innocuous. Say in bolder words, They—who had come elate as eastern hunters Banded beneath the Great Mogul, when he Erewhile went forth from Agra or Lahore, Rajahs and Omrahs [C] in his train, intent 20 To drive their prey enclosed within a ring Wide as a province, but, the signal given, Before the point of the life-threatening spear Narrowing itself by moments—they, rash men, Had seen the anticipated quarry turned 25 Into avengers, from whose wrath they fled In terror. Disappointment and dismay Remained for all whose fancies had run wild With evil expectations; confidence And perfect triumph for the better cause. 30
The State, as if to stamp the final seal On her security, and to the world Show what she was, a high and fearless soul, Exulting in defiance, or heart-stung By sharp resentment, or belike to taunt 35 With spiteful gratitude the baffled League, That had stirred up her slackening faculties To a new transition, when the King was crushed, Spared not the empty throne, and in proud haste Assumed the body and venerable name 40 Of a Republic. [D] Lamentable crimes, 'Tis true, had gone before this hour, dire work Of massacre, [E] in which the senseless sword Was prayed to as a judge; but these were past, Earth free from them for ever, as was thought,—45 Ephemeral monsters, to be seen but once! Things that could only show themselves and die.
Cheered with this hope, to Paris I returned, [F] And ranged, with ardour heretofore unfelt, The spacious city, and in progress passed 50 The prison where the unhappy Monarch lay, Associate with his children and his wife In bondage; and the palace, lately stormed With roar of cannon by a furious host. I crossed the square (an empty area then!) [G] 55 Of the Carrousel, where so late had lain The dead, upon the dying heaped, and gazed On this and other spots, as doth a man Upon a volume whose contents he knows Are memorable, but from him locked up, 60 Being written in a tongue he cannot read, So that he questions the mute leaves with pain, And half upbraids their silence. But that night I felt most deeply in what world I was, What ground I trod on, and what air I breathed. 65 High was my room and lonely, near the roof Of a large mansion or hotel, a lodge That would have pleased me in more quiet times; Nor was it wholly without pleasure then. With unextinguished taper I kept watch, 70 Reading at intervals; the fear gone by Pressed on me almost like a fear to come. I thought of those September massacres, Divided from me by one little month, [H] Saw them and touched: the rest was conjured up 75 From tragic fictions or true history, Remembrances and dim admonishments. The horse is taught his manage, and no star Of wildest course but treads back his own steps; For the spent hurricane the air provides 80 As fierce a successor; the tide retreats But to return out of its hiding-place In the great deep; all things have second-birth; The earthquake is not satisfied at once; And in this way I wrought upon myself, 85 Until I seemed to hear a voice that cried, To the whole city, "Sleep no more." The trance Fled with the voice to which it had given birth; But vainly comments of a calmer mind Promised soft peace and sweet forgetfulness. 90 The place, all hushed and silent as it was, Appeared unfit for the repose of night, Defenceless as a wood where tigers roam.
With early morning towards the Palace-walk Of Orleans eagerly I turned; as yet 95 The streets were still; not so those long Arcades; There, 'mid a peal of ill-matched sounds and cries, That greeted me on entering, I could hear Shrill voices from the hawkers in the throng, Bawling, "Denunciation of the Crimes 100 Of Maximilian Robespierre;" the hand, Prompt as the voice, held forth a printed speech, The same that had been recently pronounced, When Robespierre, not ignorant for what mark Some words of indirect reproof had been 105 Intended, rose in hardihood, and dared The man who had an ill surmise of him To bring his charge in openness; whereat, When a dead pause ensued, and no one stirred, In silence of all present, from his seat 110 Louvet walked single through the avenue, And took his station in the Tribune, saying, "I, Robespierre, accuse thee!" [I] Well is known The inglorious issue of that charge, and how He, who had launched the startling thunderbolt, 115 The one bold man, whose voice the attack had sounded, Was left without a follower to discharge His perilous duty, and retire lamenting That Heaven's best aid is wasted upon men Who to themselves are false. [K] But these are things 120 Of which I speak, only as they were storm Or sunshine to my individual mind, No further. Let me then relate that now— In some sort seeing with my proper eyes That Liberty, and Life, and Death would soon 125 To the remotest corners of the land Lie in the arbitrement of those who ruled The capital City; what was struggled for, And by what combatants victory must be won; The indecision on their part whose aim 130 Seemed best, and the straightforward path of those Who in attack or in defence were strong Through their impiety—my inmost soul Was agitated; yea, I could almost Have prayed that throughout earth upon all men, 135 By patient exercise of reason made Worthy of liberty, all spirits filled With zeal expanding in Truth's holy light, The gift of tongues might fall, and power arrive From the four quarters of the winds to do 140 For France, what without help she could not do, A work of honour; think not that to this I added, work of safety: from all doubt Or trepidation for the end of things Far was I, far as angels are from guilt. 145
Yet did I grieve, nor only grieved, but thought Of opposition and of remedies: An insignificant stranger and obscure, And one, moreover, little graced with power Of eloquence even in my native speech, 150 And all unfit for tumult or intrigue, Yet would I at this time with willing heart Have undertaken for a cause so great Service however dangerous. I revolved, How much the destiny of Man had still 155 Hung upon single persons; that there was, Transcendent to all local patrimony, One nature, as there is one sun in heaven; That objects, even as they are great, thereby Do come within the reach of humblest eyes; 160 That Man is only weak through his mistrust And want of hope where evidence divine Proclaims to him that hope should be most sure; Nor did the inexperience of my youth Preclude conviction, that a spirit strong, 165 In hope, and trained to noble aspirations, A spirit thoroughly faithful to itself, Is for Society's unreasoning herd A domineering instinct, serves at once For way and guide, a fluent receptacle 170 That gathers up each petty straggling rill And vein of water, glad to be rolled on In safe obedience; that a mind, whose rest Is where it ought to be, in self-restraint, In circumspection and simplicity, 175 Falls rarely in entire discomfiture Below its aim, or meets with, from without, A treachery that foils it or defeats; And, lastly, if the means on human will, Frail human will, dependent should betray 180 Him who too boldly trusted them, I felt That 'mid the loud distractions of the world A sovereign voice subsists within the soul, Arbiter undisturbed of right and wrong, Of life and death, in majesty severe 185 Enjoining, as may best promote the aims Of truth and justice, either sacrifice, From whatsoever region of our cares Or our infirm affections Nature pleads, Earnest and blind, against the stern decree. 190
On the other side, I called to mind those truths That are the common-places of the schools— (A theme for boys, too hackneyed for their sires,) Yet, with a revelation's liveliness, In all their comprehensive bearings known 195 And visible to philosophers of old, Men who, to business of the world untrained, Lived in the shade; and to Harmodius known And his compeer Aristogiton, [L] known To Brutus—that tyrannic power is weak, 200 Hath neither gratitude, nor faith, nor love, Nor the support of good or evil men To trust in; that the godhead which is ours Can never utterly be charmed or stilled; That nothing hath a natural right to last 205 But equity and reason; that all else Meets foes irreconcilable, and at best Lives only by variety of disease.
Well might my wishes be intense, my thoughts Strong and perturbed, not doubting at that time 210 But that the virtue of one paramount mind Would have abashed those impious crests—have quelled Outrage and bloody power, and, in despite Of what the People long had been and were Through ignorance and false teaching, sadder proof 215 Of immaturity, and in the teeth Of desperate opposition from without— Have cleared a passage for just government, And left a solid birthright to the State, Redeemed, according to example given 220 By ancient lawgivers. In this frame of mind, Dragged by a chain of harsh necessity, So seemed it,—now I thankfully acknowledge, Forced by the gracious providence of Heaven,— To England I returned, [M] else (though assured 225 That I both was and must be of small weight, No better than a landsman on the deck Of a ship struggling with a hideous storm) Doubtless, I should have then made common cause With some who perished; haply perished too, [N] 230 A poor mistaken and bewildered offering,— Should to the breast of Nature have gone back, With all my resolutions, all my hopes, A Poet only to myself, to men Useless, and even, beloved Friend! a soul 235 To thee unknown!
Twice had the trees let fall Their leaves, as often Winter had put on His hoary crown, since I had seen the surge Beat against Albion's shore, [O] since ear of mine Had caught the accents of my native speech 240 Upon our native country's sacred ground. A patriot of the world, how could I glide Into communion with her sylvan shades, Erewhile my tuneful haunt? It pleased me more To abide in the great City, [P] where I found 245 The general air still busy with the stir Of that first memorable onset made By a strong levy of humanity Upon the traffickers in Negro blood; [Q] Effort which, though defeated, had recalled 250 To notice old forgotten principles, And through the nation spread a novel heat Of virtuous feeling. For myself, I own That this particular strife had wanted power To rivet my affections; nor did now 255 Its unsuccessful issue much excite My sorrow; for I brought with me the faith That, if France prospered, good men would not long Pay fruitless worship to humanity, And this most rotten branch of human shame, 260 Object, so seemed it, of superfluous pains, Would fall together with its parent tree. What, then, were my emotions, when in arms Britain put forth her free-born strength in league, Oh, pity and shame! with those confederate Powers! 265 Not in my single self alone I found, But in the minds of all ingenuous youth, Change and subversion from that hour. No shock Given to my moral nature had I known Down to that very moment; neither lapse 270 Nor turn of sentiment that might be named A revolution, save at this one time; All else was progress on the self-same path On which, with a diversity of pace, I had been travelling: this a stride at once 275 Into another region. As a light And pliant harebell, swinging in the breeze On some grey rock—its birth-place—so had I Wantoned, fast rooted on the ancient tower Of my beloved country, wishing not 280 A happier fortune than to wither there: Now was I from that pleasant station torn And tossed about in whirlwind. I rejoiced, Yea, afterwards—truth most painful to record!— Exulted, in the triumph of my soul, 285 When Englishmen by thousands were o'erthrown, Left without glory on the field, or driven, Brave hearts! to shameful flight. It was a grief,— Grief call it not, 'twas anything but that,— A conflict of sensations without name, 290 Of which he only, who may love the sight Of a village steeple, as I do, can judge, When, in the congregation bending all To their great Father, prayers were offered up, Or praises for our country's victories; 295 And, 'mid the simple worshippers, perchance I only, like an uninvited guest Whom no one owned, sate silent; shall I add, Fed on the day of vengeance yet to come.
Oh! much have they to account for, who could tear, 300 By violence, at one decisive rent, From the best youth in England their dear pride, Their joy, in England; this, too, at a time In which worst losses easily might wean The best of names, when patriotic love 305 Did of itself in modesty give way, Like the Precursor when the Deity Is come Whose harbinger he was; a time In which apostasy from ancient faith Seemed but conversion to a higher creed; 310 Withal a season dangerous and wild, A time when sage Experience would have snatched Flowers out of any hedge-row to compose A chaplet in contempt of his grey locks.
When the proud fleet that bears the red-cross flag [R] 315 In that unworthy service was prepared To mingle, I beheld the vessels lie, A brood of gallant creatures, on the deep; I saw them in their rest, a sojourner Through a whole month of calm and glassy days 320 In that delightful island which protects Their place of convocation [S]—there I heard, Each evening, pacing by the still sea-shore, A monitory sound that never failed,— The sunset cannon. While the orb went down 325 In the tranquillity of nature, came That voice, ill requiem! seldom heard by me Without a spirit overcast by dark Imaginations, sense of woes to come, Sorrow for human kind, and pain of heart. 330
In France, the men, who, for their desperate ends, Had plucked up mercy by the roots, were glad Of this new enemy. Tyrants, strong before In wicked pleas, were strong as demons now; And thus, on every side beset with foes, 335 The goaded land waxed mad; the crimes of few Spread into madness of the many; blasts From hell came sanctified like airs from heaven. The sternness of the just, the faith of those Who doubted not that Providence had times 340 Of vengeful retribution, theirs who throned The human Understanding paramount And made of that their God, [T] the hopes of men Who were content to barter short-lived pangs For a paradise of ages, the blind rage 345 Of insolent tempers, the light vanity Of intermeddlers, steady purposes Of the suspicious, slips of the indiscreet, And all the accidents of life were pressed Into one service, busy with one work. 350 The Senate stood aghast, her prudence quenched, Her wisdom stifled, and her justice scared, Her frenzy only active to extol Past outrages, and shape the way for new, Which no one dared to oppose or mitigate. 355
Domestic carnage now filled the whole year With feast-days; old men from the chimney-nook, The maiden from the bosom of her love, The mother from the cradle of her babe, The warrior from the field—all perished, all—360 Friends, enemies, of all parties, ages, ranks, Head after head, and never heads enough For those that bade them fall. They found their joy, They made it proudly, eager as a child, (If like desires of innocent little ones 365 May with such heinous appetites be compared,) Pleased in some open field to exercise A toy that mimics with revolving wings The motion of a wind-mill; though the air Do of itself blow fresh, and make the vanes 370 Spin in his eyesight, that contents him not, But, with the plaything at arm's length, he sets His front against the blast, and runs amain, That it may whirl the faster. Amid the depth Of those enormities, even thinking minds 375 Forgot, at seasons, whence they had their being; Forgot that such a sound was ever heard As Liberty upon earth: yet all beneath Her innocent authority was wrought, Nor could have been, without her blessed name. 380 The illustrious wife of Roland, in the hour Of her composure, felt that agony, And gave it vent in her last words. [U] O Friend! It was a lamentable time for man, Whether a hope had e'er been his or not; 385 A woful time for them whose hopes survived The shock; most woful for those few who still Were flattered, and had trust in human kind: They had the deepest feeling of the grief. Meanwhile the Invaders fared as they deserved: 390 The Herculean Commonwealth had put forth her arms, And throttled with an infant godhead's might The snakes about her cradle; that was well, And as it should be; yet no cure for them Whose souls were sick with pain of what would be 395 Hereafter brought in charge against mankind. Most melancholy at that time, O Friend! Were my day-thoughts,—my nights were miserable; Through months, through years, long after the last beat Of those atrocities, the hour of sleep 400 To me came rarely charged with natural gifts, Such ghastly visions had I of despair And tyranny, and implements of death; And innocent victims sinking under fear, And momentary hope, and worn-out prayer, 405 Each in his separate cell, or penned in crowds For sacrifice, and struggling with fond mirth And levity in dungeons, where the dust Was laid with tears. Then suddenly the scene Changed, and the unbroken dream entangled me 410 In long orations, which I strove to plead Before unjust tribunals,—with a voice Labouring, a brain confounded, and a sense, Death-like, of treacherous desertion, felt In the last place of refuge—my own soul. 415
When I began in youth's delightful prime To yield myself to Nature, when that strong And holy passion overcame me first, Nor day nor night, evening or morn, was free From its oppression. But, O Power Supreme! 420 Without Whose call this world would cease to breathe, Who from the fountain of Thy grace dost fill The veins that branch through every frame of life, Making man what he is, creature divine, In single or in social eminence, 425 Above the rest raised infinite ascents When reason that enables him to be Is not sequestered—what a change is here! How different ritual for this after-worship, What countenance to promote this second love! 430 The first was service paid to things which lie Guarded within the bosom of Thy will. Therefore to serve was high beatitude; Tumult was therefore gladness, and the fear Ennobling, venerable; sleep secure, 435 And waking thoughts more rich than happiest dreams.
But as the ancient Prophets, borne aloft In vision, yet constrained by natural laws With them to take a troubled human heart, Wanted not consolations, nor a creed 440 Of reconcilement, then when they denounced, On towns and cities, wallowing in the abyss Of their offences, punishment to come; Or saw, like other men, with bodily eyes, Before them, in some desolated place, 445 The wrath consummate and the threat fulfilled; So, with devout humility be it said, So, did a portion of that spirit fall On me uplifted from the vantage-ground Of pity and sorrow to a state of being 450 That through the time's exceeding fierceness saw Glimpses of retribution, terrible, And in the order of sublime behests: But, even if that were not, amid the awe Of unintelligible chastisement, 455 Not only acquiescences of faith Survived, but daring sympathies with power, Motions not treacherous or profane, else why Within the folds of no ungentle breast Their dread vibration to this hour prolonged? 460 Wild blasts of music thus could find their way Into the midst of turbulent events; So that worst tempests might be listened to. Then was the truth received into my heart, That, under heaviest sorrow earth can bring, 465 If from the affliction somewhere do not grow Honour which could not else have been, a faith, An elevation and a sanctity, If new strength be not given nor old restored, The blame is ours, not Nature's. When a taunt 470 Was taken up by scoffers in their pride, Saying, "Behold the harvest that we reap From popular government and equality," I clearly saw that neither these nor aught Of wild belief engrafted on their names 475 By false philosophy had caused the woe, But a terrific reservoir of guilt And ignorance rilled up from age to age, That could no longer hold its loathsome charge, But burst and spread in deluge through the land. 480