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THE WINTER WALK AT NOON.
THERE is in souls a sympathy with sounds,
And as the mind is pitch'd the ear is pleased
With melting airs or martial, brisk or grave.
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies.
How soft the music of those village bells
Falling at intervals upon the ear
In cadence sweet! now dying all away,
Now pealing loud again and louder still,
Clear and sonorous as the gale comes on.
With easy force it opens all the cells
Where memory slept'. Wherever I have heard
How sweet the tuneful bells' responsive peal!
As when at opening morn, the fragrant breeze
Breathes on the trembling sense of wan disease,
So piercing to my heart their force I feel.
And hark! with lessening cadence now they fall;
And now along the white and level tide
They fling the melancholy music wide;
Bidding me many a tender thought recall
Of summer days, and those delightful years
When by my native streams, on life's fair prime,
The mournful magic of their mingling chime
First waked my wondering childhood into tears!
A kindred melody, the scene recurs,
And with it all its pleasures and its pains.
Such comprehensive views the spirit takes,
That in a few short moments I retrace
(As in a map the voyager his course,)
The windings of my way through many years.
Short as in retrospect the journey seems,
It seem'd not always short; the rugged path
And prospect oft so dreary and forlorn
Moved many a sigh at its disheartening length.
Yet feeling present evils, while the past
Faintly impress the mind, or not at all,
How readily we wish time spent revoked,
That we might try the ground again, where once
(Through inexperience as we now perceive,)
We miss'd that happiness we might have found.
Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best friend
A father, whose authority, in show
But seeming now when all those days are o'er
The sounds of joy, once heard, and heard no more.
Bowles. At Ostend.
In whose look severe,
When angry most he seem'd, and most severe,
What else but favour, grace, and mercy shone?
When most severe2, and mustering all its force,
Was but the graver countenance of love;
Whose favour, like the clouds of spring, might lower,
And utter now and then an aweful voice,
But had a blessing in its darkest frown,
Threatening at once and nourishing the plant.
We loved, but not enough the gentle hand
That rear'd us. At a thoughtless age allured
By every gilded folly, we renounced
His sheltering side, and wilfully forewent
That converse which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected sire! a mother too,
That softer friend, perhaps more gladly still,
Might he demand them at the gates of death.
Sorrow has since they went subdued and tamed
The playful humour; he could now endure,
(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears,)
And feel a parent's presence no restraint.
But not to understand a treasure's worth3
Till time has stolen away the slighted good,
Is cause of half the poverty we feel,
And makes the world the wilderness it is.
3 Bestow a tear, nor think thy sorrow lost Another and another should it cost:
The real worth of virtue ne'er is known
Till vanished from before our eyes and gone.
The few that pray at all pray oft amiss,
And seeking grace to improve the prize they hold 55
Would urge a wiser suit, than asking more.
The night was winter in his roughest mood, The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast, 60
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendour of the scene below.
Again the harmony comes o'er the vale,
And through the trees I view the embattled tower
Whence all the music. I again perceive
The soothing influence of the wafted strains,
And settle in soft musings as I tread
The walk still verdant under oaks and elms,
Whose outspread branches overarch the glade.
The roof though moveable through all its length
As the wind sways it, has yet well sufficed,
And intercepting in their silent fall
The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The redbreast warbles still, but is content
With slender notes and more than half suppress'd.
Pleased with his solitude, and flitting light
From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendent drops of ice,
That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below.
Stillness accompanied with sounds so soft
Charms more than silence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart 85
May give an useful lesson to the head,
And learning wiser grow without his books.
Knowledge and wisdom', far from being one,
The curious hand of knowledge doth but pick
Bare simples. Wisdom pounds them for the sick,
Knowledge, when Wisdom is too weak to guide her,
Is like a headstrong horse that throws the rider.
I do not fancy this relative, mendicant, and precarious understanding; for though we could become learned by other men's reading, I am sure a man can never become wise but by his own wisdom.-Cotton's Montaigne, i. 24.
No man is the wiser for his learning, it may administer matter to work in, or objects to work upon; but wit and wisdom are born with man.-Selden's Table Talk.
Have ofttimes no connection. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men,
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which wisdom builds,
Till smooth'd and squared and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells
By which the magic art of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthrall'd.
Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgement hood-wink'd. Some the style'
Of unmade happiness
The rude material,-Wisdom add to this
Wisdom, the sole artificer of bliss.
Young. Sutire vi.
But knowledge is a food, and needs no less
Her temperance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain ;
Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.
Par. Lost, vii. 126.
6 What woeful stuff this madigral would be
In some starved hackneyed sonneteer or me!
But let a Lord once own the happy lines,
How the wit brightens! how the style refines!
Pope. Essay on Crit. 418.
7 Others for language all their care express,
And value books, as women men, for dress:
Their praise is still-the style is excellent,
The sense they humbly take upon content.
Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire.