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Listen! you can scarcely hear! Hither he his course is bending ;Now he leaves the lower ground, And up the craggy hill ascending Many a stop and stay he makes, Many a breathing-fit he takes ;Steep the way and wearisome, . Yet all the while his whip is dumb!
The place to Benjamin right well Is known, and by as strong a spell As used to be that sign of love And hope—the OLIVE-BOUGH and Dove; He knows it to his cost, good Man! Who does not know the famous Swan! Object uncouth! and yet our boast, For it was painted by the Host; His own conceit the figure planned, 'Twas coloured all by his own hand; And that frail Child of thirsty clay, Of whom I sing this rustic lay, Could tell with self-dissatisfaction Quaint stories of the bird's attraction !
The Horses have worked with right good-will, And so have gained the top of the hill; He was patient, they were strong, And now they smoothly glide along, Recovering breath, and pleased to win The praises of mild Benjamin. Heaven shield him from mishap and snare ! But why so early with this prayer? Is it for threatenings in the sky ? Or for some other danger nigh? No; none is near him yet, though he Be one of much infirmity; For at the bottom of the brow, Where once the Dove and OLIVE-BOUGH Offered a greeting of good ale To all who entered Grasmere Vale; And called on him who must depart To leave it with a jovial heart; There, where the Dove and OLIVE-BOUGH Once hung, a Poet harbours now, A simple water-drinking Bard; Why need our Hero then (though frail His best resolves) be on his guard? He marches by, secure and bold; Yet while he thinks on times of old, It seems that all looks wondrous cold; He shrugs his shoulders, shakes his head, And, for the honest folk within, It is a doubt with Benjamin Whether they be alive or dead !
Well! that is past and in despite Of open door and shining light. And now the conqueror essays The long ascent of Dunmail-raise ; And with his team is gentle here As when he clomb from Rydal Mere ; His whip they do not dread-his voice They only hear it to rejoice. To stand or go is at their pleasure; Their efforts and their time they measure By generous pride within the breast; And, while they strain, and while they rest, He thus pursues his thoughts at leisure.
Now am I fairly safe to-nightAnd with proud cause my heart is light: I trespassed lately worse than everBut Heaven has blest a good endeavour; And, to my soul's content, I find The evil One is left behind. Yes, let my master fume and fret, Here am I, with my horses yet! My jolly team, he finds that ye Will work for nobody but me! Full proof of this the Country gained ; It knows how ye were vexed and strained, And forced unworthy stripes to bear, When trusted to another's care. Here was it-on this rugged slope, Which now ye climb with heart and hope, I saw you, between rage and fear, Plunge, and fling back a spiteful ear, And ever more and more confused, As ye were more and more abused: As chance would have it, passing by I saw you in that jeopardy:
Here is no danger,-none at all ! Beyond his wish he walks secure; But pass a mile—and then for trial,Then for the pride of self-denial ; If he resist that tempting door, Which with such friendly voice will call ; If he resist those casement panes, And that bright gleam which thence will fall Upon his Leaders' bells and manes, Inviting him with cheerful lure: For still, though all be dark elsewhere, Some shining notice will be there, Of open house and ready fare.
* This rude piece of self-taught art (such is the program of refinement) has been supplanted by a professional per duction.
A word from me was like a charm;
The ASTROLOGER was not unseen Ye pulled together with one mind;
By solitary Benjamin ; And your huge burthen, safe from harm,
But total darkness came anon, Moved like a vessel in the wind !
And he and every thing was gone: -Yes, without me, up hills so high
And suddenly a ruffling breeze, *Tis vain to strive for mastery.
(That would have rocked the sounding trees Then grieve not, jolly team! though tough Had aught of sylvan growth been there) The road we travel, steep, and rough ;
Swept through the Hollow long and bare: Though Rydal-heights and Dunmail-raise,
The rain rushed down—the road was battered, And all their fellow banks and braes,
As with the force of billows shattered; Full often make you stretch and strain,
The horses are dismayed, nor know And halt for breath and halt again,
Whether they should stand or go; Yet to their sturdiness 'tis owing
And Benjamin is groping near them,
Sees nothing, and can scarcely hear them.
With such a charge in such a spot;
Astounded in the mountain gap His meditations thus pursued,
With thunder-peals, clap after clap, A storm, which had been smothered long,
Close-treading on the silent flashesWas growing inwardly more strong;
And somewhere, as he thinks, by crashes And, in its struggles to get free,
Among the rocks; with weight of rain, Was busily employed as he.
And sullen motions long and slow, The thunder had begun to growl
That to a dreary distance goHe heard not, too intent of soul;
Till, breaking in upon the dying strain, The air was now without a breath
A rending o'er his head begins the fray again. He marked not that 'twas still as death. But soon large rain-drops on his head
Meanwhile, uncertain what to do, Fell with the weight of drops of lead ;
And oftentimes compelled to halt, He starts and takes, at the admonition,
The horses cautiously pursue A sage survey of his condition.
Their way, without mishap or fault; The road is black before his eyes,
And now have reached that pile of stones, Glimmering faintly where it lies;
Heaped over brave King Dunmail's bones; Black is the sky—and every hill,
He who had once supreme command, Up to the sky, is blacker still
Last king of rocky Cumberland; Sky, hill, and dale, one dismal room,
His bones, and those of all his Power,
Slain here in a disastrous hour!
When, passing through this narrow strait, Above Helin-crag -a streak half dead,
Stony, and dark, and desolate, A burning of portentous red;
Benjamin can faintly hear And near that lurid light, full well
A voice that comes from some one near, The ASTROLOGER, sage Sidrophel,
A female voice :" Whoe'er you be, Where at his desk and book he sits,
Stop,” it exclaimed," and pity me!" Puzzling aloft his curious wits;
And, less in pity than in wonder, He whose domain is held in common
Amid the darkness and the thunder, With no one but the ANCIENT WOMAN,
The Waggoner, with prompt command,
Summons his horses to a stand.
While, with increasing agitation,
The Woman urged her supplication,
In rueful words, with sobs between* A mountain of Grasmere, the broken summit of which The voice of tears that fell unseen ; presents two figures, full as distinctly shaped as that of the | There came a flash-a startling glare, famous Cobbler near Arroquhar in Scotland.
And all Seat-Sandal was laid bare !
'Tis not a time for nice suggestion,
Another voice, in tone as hoarse As a swoln brook with rugged course, Cried out, “Good brother, why so fast ? I've had a glimpse of you-avast ! Or, since it suits you to be civil, Take her at once-for good and evil!"
“ It is my Husband," softly said The Woman, as if half afraid : By this time she was snug within, Through help of honest Benjamin ; She and her Babe, which to her breast With thankfulness the Mother pressed ; And now the same strong voice more near Said cordially, “ My Friend, what cheer? Rough doings these ! as God's my judge, The sky owes somebody a grudge! We've had in half an hour or less A twelvemonth's terror and distress !"
CANTO SECOND. Ir Wytheburn's modest House of prayer, As lowly as the lowliest dwelling, Had, with its belfry's humble stock, A little pair that hang in air, Been mistress also of a clock, (And one, too, not in crazy plight) Twelve strokes that clock would have been telling Under the brow of old HelvellynIts bead-roll of midnight, Then, when the Hero of my tale Was passing by, and, down the vale (The vale now silent, hushed I ween As if a storm had never been) Proceeding with a mind at ease ; While the old Familiar of the seas Intent to use his utmost haste, Gained ground upon the Waggon fast, And gives another lusty cheer ; For spite of rumbling of the wheels, A welcome greeting he can hear ;It is a fiddle in its glee Dinning from the CHERRY TREE!
He draws him to the door-“Come in,
The fiddle's squeak*_that call to bliss,
Blithe souls and lightsome hearts have we, Feasting at the CHERRY TREE!' This was the outside proclamation, This was the inside salutation ; What bustling-jostling-high and low ! A universal overflow! What tankards foaming from the tap! What store of cakes in every lap ! What thumping---stumping-overhead ! The thunder had not been more busy : With such a stir you would have said, This little place may well be dizzy ! 'Tis who can dance with greatest vigour*Tis what can be most prompt and eager ; As if it heard the fiddle's call, The pewter clatters on the wall; The very bacon shows it feeling, Swinging from the smoky ceiling !
While thus our jocund Travellers fare, Up springs the Sailor from his chair Limps (for I might have told before That he was lame) across the floor Is gone-returns-and with a prize ; With what a Ship of lusty size ; A gallant stately Man-of-war, Fixed on a smoothly-sliding car. Surprise to all, but most surprise To Benjamin, who rubs his eyes, Not knowing that he had befriended A Man so gloriously attended !
A steaming bowl, a blazing fire, What greater good can heart desire ? 'Twere worth a wise man's while to try The utmost anger of the sky : To seek for thoughts of a gloomy cast, If such the bright amends at last. Now should you say I judge amiss, The CHERRY TREE shows proof of this ; For soon of all the happy there, Our Travellers are the happiest pair ; All care with Benjamin is goneA Cæsar past the Rubicon ! He thinks not of his long, long, strife ;The Sailor, Man by nature gay, Hath no resolves to throw away ; And he hath now forgot his Wife, Hath quite forgotten her--or may be Thinks her the luckiest soul on earth, Within that warm and peaceful berth,
“ This,” cries the Sailor, “a Third-rate is Stand back, and you shall see her gratis ! This was the Flag-ship at the Nile, The Vanguard-you may smirk and smile, But, pretty Maid, if you look near, You 'll find you 've much in little here ! A nobler ship did never swim, And you shall see her in full trim : I'll set, my friends, to do you honour, Set every inch of sail upon her." So said, so done ; and masts, sails, yards, He names them all ; and interlards His speech with uncouth terms of art, Accomplished in the showman's part ; And then, as from a sudden check, Cries out-“ 'Tis there, the quarter-deck On which brave Admiral Nelson stoodA sight that would have roused your blood ! One eye he had, which, bright as ten, Burned like a fire among his men ; Let this be land, and that be sea, Here lay the French-and thus came we!”
Hushed was by this the fiddle's sound, The dancers all were gathered round, And, such the stillness of the house, You might have heard a nibbling mouse ; While, borrowing helps where'er he may, The Sailor through the story runs Of ships to ships and guns to guns ; And does his utmost to display The dismal conflict, and the might And terror of that marvellous night!
With bowl that sped from hand to hand, The gladdest of the gladsome band, Amid their own delight and fun, They hear-when every dance is done, When every whirling bout is o'er
* At the close of each strathspey, or jig, a particular note from the fiddle summons the Rustic to the agreeable duty of saluting his partner.
“ A bowl, a bowl of double measure,"
Can any low-born care pursue her, Can any mortal clog come to her? No notion have they-not a thought, That is from joyless regions brought ! And, while they coast the silent lake, Their inspiration I partake; Share their empyreal spirits-yea, With their enraptured vision, see O fancy—what a jubilee ! What shifting pictures clad in gleams Of colour bright as feverish dreams ! Earth, spangled sky, and lake serene, Involved and restless all-a scene Pregnant with mutual exaltation, Rich change, and multiplied creation ! This sight to me the Muse imparts ; And then, what kindness in their hearts ! What tears of rapture, what vow-making, Profound entreaties, and hand-shaking ! What solemn, vacant, interlacing, As if they'd fall asleep embracing ! Then, in the turbulence of glee, And in the excess of amity, Says Benjamin, “ That Ass of thine, He spoils thy sport, and hinders mine : If he were tethered to the waggon, He'd drag as well what he is dragging ; And we, as brother should with brother Might trudge it alongside each other ! ”
CANTO THIRD. Right gladly had the horses stirred, When they the wished-for greeting heard, The whip’s loud notice from the door, That they were free to move once more. You think, those doings must have bred In them disheartening doubts and dread; No, not a horse of all the eight, Although it be a moonless night, Fears either for himself or freight; For this they know (and let it hide, In part, the offences of their guide) That Benjamin, with clouded brains, Is worth the best with all their pains ; And, if they had a prayer to make, The prayer would be that they may take With him whatever comes in course, The better fortune or the worse ; That no one else may have business near them, And, drunk or sober, he may steer them.
Forthwith, obedient to command, The horses made a quiet stand; And to the waggon's skirts was tied The Creature, by the Mastiff's side, The Mastiff wondering, and perplext With dread of what will happen next; And thinking it but sorry cheer, To have such company so near !
This new arrangement made, the Wain Through the still night proceeds again ; No Moon hath risen her light to lend ; But indistinctly may be kenned The VANGUARD, following close behind, Sails spread, as if to catch the wind !
So, forth in dauntless mood they fare, And with them goes the guardian pair.
Now, heroes, for the true commotion, The triumph of your late devotion ! Can aught on earth impede delight, Still mounting to a higher height; And higher still—a greedy flight !
“ Thy wife and child are snug and warm, Thy ship will travel without harm ; I like,” said Benjamin," her shape and stature : And this of mine—this bulky creature Of which I have the steering—this, Seen fairly, is not much amiss ! We want your streamers, friend, you know; But, altogether as we go,