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DISCOURSE OF THE WANDERER, &c.
ARGUMENT. Page 315, Wanderer asserts that an active principle pervades the
Universe, its noblest seat the human soul_316, How lively this principle is in childhood_316, Hence the delight in old Age of looking back upon Childhood -316, The dignity, powers, and privileges of Age asserted—318, These not to be looked for generally but under a just government—319, Right of a human Creature to be exempt from being considered as a mere Instrument-320, The condition of multitudes deplored_320, Former conversation recurred to, and the Wanderer's opinions set in a clearer light—322, Truth placed within reach of the humblest_323, Equality—324, Happy state of the two Boys again adverted to-325, Earnest wish expressed for a System of National Education established universally by Government 327, Glorious effects of this foretold—330, Walk to the Lake -335, Grand spectacle from the side of a bill_337, Address of Priest to the Supreme Being -339, in the course of which he contrasts with ancient Barbarism the present appearance of the scene befdre him—340, The change ascribed to Christianity – 340, Apostrophe to his flock, living and dead-341, Gratitude to the Almighty—342, Return over the Lake_342, Parting with the Solitary_342, Under what circumstances.
DISCOURSE OF THE WANDERER, AND AN
EVENING VISIT TO THE LAKE.
“ To every Form of being is assigned,”
Thus calmly spake the venerable Sage,
“ An actioe Principle :-howe'er removed
From sense and observation, it subsists
In all things, in all natures; in the stars
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds,
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks,
The moving waters, and the invisible air.
Whate'er exists hath properties that spread
Beyond itself, communicating good,
A simple blessing, or with evil mixed;
Spirit that knows no insulated spot,
No chasm, no solitude ; from link to link
It circulates, the Soul of all the worlds.
This is the freedom of the universe ;
Unfolded still the more, more visible,
The more we know; and yet is reverenced least,
And least respected in the human Mind,
Its most apparent home. The food of hope
Is meditated action ; robbed of this
Her sole support, she languishes and dies.
We perish also ; for we live by hope
And by desire ; we see by the glad light
And breathe the sweet air of futurity ;
And so we live, or else we have no life.
To-morrow-nay perchance this very hour
(For every moment hath its own to-morrow!)
Those blooming Boys, whose hearts are almost sick
With present triumph, will be sure to find
A field before them freshened with the dew
Of other expectations ;-in which course
Their happy year spins round. The youth obeys
A like glad impulse ; and so moves the man
'Mid all his apprehensions, cares, and fears,-
Or so he ought to move.
Ah! why in age
Do we revert so fondly to the walks
Of childhood—but that there the Soul discerns
The dear memorial footsteps unimpaired
Of her own native vigour; thence can hear
Reverberations; and a choral song,
Commingling with the incense that ascends,
Undaunted, toward the imperishable heavens,
From her own lonely altar ?
Do not think
That good and wise ever will be allowed,
Though strength decay, to breathe in such estate
As shall divide them wholly from the stir
Of hopeful nature. Rightly is it said
That Man descends into the VALE of years ;
Yet have I thought that we might also speak,
And not presumptuously, I trust, of Age,
As of a final EMINENCE ; though bare
In aspect and forbidding, yet a point
On which 'tis not impossible to sit
In awful sovereignty; a place of power,
A throne, that may be likened unto his,
Who, in some placid day of summer, looks
Down from a mountain-top,—say one of those
High peaks, that bound the vale where now we are.
Faint, and diminished to the gazing eye,
Forest and field, and hill and dale appear,
With all the shapes over their surface spread :
But, while the gross and visible frame of things
Relinquishes its hold upon the sense,
Yea almost on the Mind herself, and seems
All unsubstantialized,—how loud the voice
Of waters, with invigorated peal
From the full river in the vale below,
Ascending! For on that superior height
Who sits, is disencumbered from the press
Of near obstructions, and is privileged
To breathe in solitude, above the host
Of ever-humming insects, 'mid thin air
That suits not them. The murmur of the leaves