Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

serves to show that his death was in no ways hastened by violence, or by want.

The common people still regard his memory with great respect; and many are of opinion that the stones which he repaired will not again require the assistance of the chisel. They even assert, that, on the tombs where the manner of the martyrs' murder is recorded, their names have remained indelibly legible since the death of Old Mortality; while those of the persecutors, sculptured on the same monuments have been entirely defaced. It is hardly necessary to say that this is a fond imagination, and that, since the time of the pious pilgrim, the monuments, which were the objects of his care, are hastening, like all earthly memorials, into ruin and decay.

LESSON CXXXVII.

The religious cottage.-D. HUNTINGTON.

"SEEST thou yon lonely cottage in the groveWith little garden neatly planned beforeIts roof, deep shaded by the elms above,

Moss-grown, and decked with velvet verdure o'er? Go, lift the willing latch-the scene exploreSweet peace, and love, and joy, thou there shalt find: For there religion dwells; whose sacred lore Leaves the proud wisdom of the world behind, And pours a heavenly ray on every humble mind. "When the bright morning gilds the eastern skies, Up springs the peasant from his calm repose; Forth to his honest toil he cheerful hies,

And tastes the sweets of nature as he goes-
But first, of Sharon's fairest, sweetest rose,

He breathes the fragrance, and pours forth the praise:
Looks to the source whence every blessing flows,
Ponders the page which heavenly truth conveys,
And to its Author's hand commits his future ways.

"Nor yet in solitude his prayers ascend;

His faithful partner and their blooming train, The precious word with reverent minds attend, The heaven-directed path of life to gain. Their voices mingle in the grateful strain

The lay of love and joy together sing,

To Him whose bounty clothes the smiling plain, Who spreads the beauties of the blooming spring, And tunes the warbling throats that make the valleys ring."

LESSON CXXXVIII.

The deaf man's grave.-WORDSWORTH.

ALMOST at the root

Of that tall pine, the shadow of whose bare
And slender stem, while here I sit at eve,
Oft stretches towards me like a long straight path,
Traced faintly in the green sward; there, beneath
A plain blue stone, a gentle dalesman lies,
From whom, in early childhood, was withdrawn
The precious gift of hearing. He grew up
From year to year in loneliness of soul;
And this deep mountain valley was to him
Soundless with all its streams. The bird of dawn
Did never rouse this cottager from sleep
With startling summons: not for his delight
The vernal cuckoo shouted; not for him
Murmured the labouring bee. When stormy winds
Were working the broad bosom of the lake
Into a thousand thousand sparkling waves,
Rocking the trees, and driving cloud on cloud,
Along the sharp edge of yon lofty crags,
The agitated scene before his eye
Was silent as a picture: evermore
Were all things silent wheresoe'er he moved.
Yet, by the solace of his own pure thoughts
Upheld, he duteously pursued the round
Of rural labours; the steep mountain-side
Ascended, with his staff and faithful dog;
The plough he guided, and the sithe he swayed;
And the ripe corn before his sickle fell
Among the joc'und reapers. For himself,
All watchful and industrious as he was,

He wrought not; neither field nor flock he owned:
No wish for wealth had place within his mind;
Nor husband's love, nor father's hope or care.
Though born a younger brother, need was none

That from the floor of his paternal home
He should depart, to plant himself anew.
And when, mature in manhood, he beheld
His parents laid in earth, no loss ensued
Of rights to him; but he remained well pleased,
By the pure bond of independent love,
An inmate of a second family,

The fellow labourer and friend of him
To whom the small inheritance had fallen.

Nor deem that his mild presence was a weight
That pressed upon his brother's house; for books
Were ready comrades whom he could not tire,—
Of whose society the blameless man
Was never satiate. Their familiar voice,
Even to old age, with unabated charm
Beguiled his leisure hours; refreshed his thoughts;
Beyond its natural elevation raised

His introverted spirit; and bestowed
Upon his life an outward dignity

Which all acknowledged. The dark winter night,
The stormy day, had each its own resource;
Song of the muses, sage historick tale,
Science severe, or word of holy writ
Announcing immortality and joy
To the assembled spirits of the just,
From imperfection and decay secure.

Thus soothed at home, thus busy in the field,
To no perverse suspicion he gave way,
No languor, peevishness, nor vain complaint:
And they who were about him did not fail
In reverence, or in courtesy; they prized
His gentle manners and his peaceful smiles,
The gleams of his slow-varying countenance,
Were met with answering sympathy and love.

At length, when sixty years, and five were told,
A slow disease insensibly consumed
The powers of nature; and a few short steps
Of friends and kindred bore him from his home
(Yon cottage, shaded by the woody crags,)
To the profounder stillness of the grave.
Nor was his funeral denied the grace
Of many tears, virtuous and thoughtful grief;
Heart-sorrow rendered sweet by gratitude.

And now, that monumental stone preserves

His name, and unambitiously relates
How long, and by what kindly outward aids,
And in what pure contentedness of mind,
The sad privation was by him endured.
And yon tall pine-tree whose composing sound
Was wasted on the good man's living ear,
Hath now its own peculiar sanctity;
And, at the touch of every wandering breeze,
Murmurs, not idly, o'er his peaceful grave.

LESSON CXXXIX.

The Alderman's funeral.-SOUTHEY.

Stranger. WHOM are they ushering from the world, with all This pageantry and long parade of death?

Townsman. A long parade, indeed, Sir, and yet here
You se
but half; round yonder bend it reaches
A furlong farther, carriage behind carriage.

S. "Tis but a mournful sight, and yet the pomp
Tempts me to stand a gazer:

T. Yonder schoolboy,
Who plays the truant, says the proclamation
Of peace was nothing to the show, and even
The chairing of the members at election
Would not have been a finer sight than this;
Only that red and green are prettier colours
Than all this mourning There, Sir, you behold
One of the red-gowned worthies of the city,
The envy and the boast of our exchange,
Aye, what was worth, last week, a good half million,
Screwed down in yonder hearse.

S. Then he was born
Under a lucky planet, who to-day
Puts mourning on for his inheritance.

T. When first I heard his death, that very wish
Leapt to my lips; but now the closing scene
Of the comedy hath wakened wiser thoughts;
And I bless God, that when I go to the grave,
There will not be the weight of wealth like his
To sink me down.

S. The camel and the needle,Is that then in your mind?

T. Even so. The text

Is gospel wisdom. I would ride the camel,-
Yea, leap him flying, through the needle's eye,
As easily as such a pampered soul
Could pass
the narrow gate.

S. Your pardon, Sir,
But sure this lack of Christian charity
Looks not like Christian truth.

T. Your pardon, too, Sir,
If, with this text before me, I should feel

In the preaching mood! But for these barren fig-trees,
With all their flourish and their leafiness,
We have been told their destiny and use,

When the axe is laid unto the root, and they
Cumber the earth no longer.

S. Was his wealth

Stored fraudfully, the spoil of orphans wronged,
And widows who had none to plead their right?
T. All honest, open, honourable gains,
Fair legal interest, bonds and mortgages,
Ships to the east and west.

S. Why judge you then So hardly of the dead?

T. For what he left

Undone :-for sins, not one of which is mentioned
In the Ten Commandments. He, I warrant him,
Believed no other gods than those of the Creed:
Bowed to no idols, but his money-bags :

Swore no false oaths, except at the custom-house :
Kept the Sabbath idle: built a monument
To honour his dead father: did no murder:
Was too old-fashioned for adultery:

Never picked pockets: never bore false-witness:
And never, with that all-commanding wealth,
Coveted his neighbour's house, nor ox, nor ass.

S. You knew him, then, it seems?

T. As all men know
The virtues of your hundred-thousanders:
They never hide their lights beneath a bushel.
S. Nay, nay, uncharitable Sir! for often
Doth bounty like a streamlet flow.unseen,
Freshening and giving life along its course.

T. We track the streamlet by the brighter green And livelier growth it gives-but as for this-

« AnteriorContinuar »