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The wight, whose tale these artless lines unfold,
Was all the offspring of this humble pair:
His birth no oracle or seer foretold;
No prodigy appear'd in earth or air,
Nor aught that might a strange event declare.
You guess each circumstance of Edwin's birth;
The parent's transport, and the parent's care;
The gossip's prayer for wealth, and wit, and worth;
And one long summer day of indolence and mirth.
And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy:
Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his infant eye;
Dainties he heeded not, nor gaude, nor toy,
Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy:
Silent when glad ; affectionate, though shy;
And now his look was most demurely sad;
And now he laugh'd aloud, yet none knew why.
The neighbors stared, and sigh'd, yet bless d the lad:
Some deem'd him wondrous wise, and some believed him mad.
But why should I his childish feats display?
Concourse, and noise, and toil, he ever fled ;
Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray
Of squabbling imps; but to the forest sped,
Or roam'd at large the lonely mountain's head;
Or, when the maze of some bewilder'd stream
To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led,
There would be wander wild, till Phæbus' beam,
Shot from the western cliff, released the weary team.
Th' exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring.
His heart, from cruel sport estranged, would bleed
To work the woe of any living thing,
By trap or net, by arrow, or by sling;
These he detested, those he scorn'd to wield;
He wish'd to be the guardian, not the king,
Tyrant far less, or traitor, of the field.
And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.
Lo! where the stripling, rapt in wonder, roves
Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine;
And sees on high, amidst th' encircling groves,
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents sbine ;
While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join,
And Echo swells the chorus to the skies:
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign
For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies ?
Ah! no: he better knows great Nature's charms to prize.
And oft he traced the uplands, to survey,
When o'er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain gray,
And lake, dim-gleaming on the smoky lawn:
Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for awhile;
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And villager abroad at early toil:
But lo! the Sun appears, and heaven, earth, ocean, smile.
And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,
When all in mist the world below was lost.
What dreadful pleasure ! there to stand sublime,
Like shipwreck'd mariner on desert coast,
And view th' enormous waste of vapor, toss'd
In billows, length’ning to th' horizon round,
Now scoop'd in gulss, with mountains now emboss'd!
And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound,
Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar profound.
In truth he was a strange and wayward wight,
Fond of each gentle and each dreadful scene.
In darkness, and in storm, he found delight:
Nor less than when on ocean-wave serene
The southern Sun diffused his dazzling sheen.'
E'en sad vicissitude amused his soul:
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll,
A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wish'd not to control.
But who the melodies of morn can tell?
The wild-brook babbling down the mountain side;
The lowing herd; the sheepsold's simple bell;
The pipe of early shepherd dim descried
In the lone valley; echoing far and wide
The clamorous horn along the cliffs above;
The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide;
The hum of bees, and linnet's lay of love,
And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.
The cottage-curs at early pilgrim bark;
Crown'd with her pail the tripping milkmaid sings;
The whistling ploughman stalks afield; and, hark !
Down the rough slope the ponderous wagon rings;
Thro' rustling corn the hare astonish'd springs;
Slow tolls the village-clock the drowsy hour;
The partridge bursts away on whirring wings;
Deep mourns the turtle in sequester'd bower,
And shrill lark carols clear from her aërial tour.
• Brightness, splendor. The word is used by some late writers as well as by Milton.
The end and the reward of toil is rest.
Be all my prayer for virtue and for peace.
or wealth and fame, of pomp and power possess'd,
Who ever felt bis weight of woe decrease ?
Ah! what avails the lore of Rome and Greece,
The lay heaven-prompted, and harmonious string,
The dust of Opbir, or the Tyrian fleece,
All that art, fortune, enterprise, can bring,
If envy, scorn, remorse, or pride, the bosom wring!
Let Vanity adorn the marble tomb
Witb trophies, rhymes, and scutcheons of renown,
In the deep dungeon of some Gothic dome,
Where night and desolation ever frown.
Mine be the breezy hill that skirts the down;
Where a green grassy turf is all I crave,
With here and there a violet bestrown,
Fast by a brook, or fountain's murmuring wave.
And many an evening sun shine sweetly on my grave.
And thither let the village swain repair;
And light of heart, the village maiden gay,
To deck with flowers her half-dishevellid hair,
And celebrate the merry morn of May.
There let the shepherd's pipe the live long day
Bill all the grove with love's bewitching woe;
And when mild evening comes in mantle gray,
Let not the blooming band make haste to go;
No ghost nor spell my long and last abode shall know.
At the close of the day, when the hamlet is still,
And mortals the sweets of forgetfulness prove,
When nought but the torrent is heard on the hill,
And nought but the nightingale's song in the grove;
'Twas thus, by the cave of the mountain afar,
While his harp rung symphonious, a hermit began;
No more with himself or with nature at war,
He thought as a sage, though he felt as a man.
"Ah! why, all abandoned to darkness and woe,
Why, lone Philomela, that languishing fall?
For spring shall return, and a lover bestow,
And sorrow no longer thy bosom inthral.
But, if pity inspire thee, renew the sad lay,
Mourn, sweetest complainer, man calls thee to mourn;
O soothe him, whose pleasures like thine pass away:
Full quickly they pass—but they never return.
Now gliding remote on the verge of the sky,
The moon, half extinguished, her crescent displays;
But lately I marked, when majestic on high
She shone, and the planets were lost in her blaze.
Roll on, thou fair orb, and with gladness pursue
The path that conducts thee to splendor again :
But man's faded glory what change shall renew ?
Al fool! to exult in a glory so vain !
'Tis night, and the landscape is lovely no more;
I mourn, but ye woodlands I mourn not for you;
For morn is approaching, your charms to restore,
Perfumed with fresh fragrance, and glittring with dew:
Nor yet for the rayage of winter I mourn:
Kind Nature the embryo blossom will save :
But when shall spring visit the mouldering urn!
O when shall it dawn on the night of the grave!
'Twas thus, by the glare of false science betrayed-
That leads, to bewilder; and dazzles, to blind-
My thoughts wont to roam, from shade onward to shade,
Destruction before me, and sorrow behind.
O pity, great Father of Light, then I cried,
· Thy creature, who fain would not wander from thee;
Lo, humbled in dust, I relinquish my pride:
From doubt and from darkness thou only canst free!
And darkness and doubt are now flying away;
No longer I roam in conjecture forlorn:
So breaks on the traveller, faint and astray,
The bright and the balmy effulgence of morn.
See Truth, Love, and Mercy, in triumph descending,
And Nature all glowing in Eden's first bloom!
On the cold cheek of death smiles and roses are blending,
And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb."
WILLIAM PALEY, 1743–1805.
“No writers are rewarded with a larger share of immediate celebrity than those who address themselves to the understandings of general readers, who investigate truths, develop principles, and convey instruction in that popular style, and that plain, expressive language, which all read with plea. sure, and comprehend with ease."'1 Such was eminently the characteristic of Dr. William Paley. He was the son of the head-master of Giggleswick grammar-school, in Yorkshire, and was born in July, 1743. After having
Read two articles on Dr. Paley in the « Quarterly Review," vol. ii. p. 75, and vol. ix. p. 388; and another in the “ Edinburgh Review,” vol. i. p. 287.
acquired the rudiments of learning under the tuition of his father, he was admitted, in November, 1758, a sizer of Christ's College, Cambridge. For some time he attracted notice only as an uncouth but agreeable idler. “I spent," he says, "the first two years of my under-graduateship happily, but unprofitably. I was constantly in society, where we were not immoral, but idle and rather expensive. At the commencement of my third year, how. ever, after having left the usual party at rather a late hour in the evening, I was awakened, at five in the morning, by one of my companions, who stood at my bedside, and said, 'Paley, I have been thinking what a fool you are. I could do nothing profitably were I to try, and can afford the life I lead : you could do everything, and cannot afford it. I have had no sleep during the whole night on account of these reflections, and I am now come solemnly to inform you that, if you persist in your indolence, I must renounce your society. I was so struck with the visit and the visitor, that I lay in bed a great part of the day and formed my plan.” The result was that he changed his whole habits, became a close student, and at the close of his college course was the first in his class.
Soon after taking his degree, he obtained the situation of usher at a private school at Greenwich; but being elected, in June, 1766, a fellow of the college to which he belonged, he fixed his residence at the university, became a tutor of his college, and delivered lectures on metaphysics, morals, and the Greek Testament. His reputation, in this situation, rose extremely high, as he was remarkable for the happy talent of adapting his lectures singularly well to the apprehensions of his pupils. In 1775, he was presented to the rectory of Musgrove, in Westmoreland; and in the following year he va. cated his fellowship by marrying. He was soon advanced by his friend Dr. Law, then Bishop of Carlisle, to various preferments, until he was finally, in 1782, made archdeacon and chancellor of that diocese. Here he digested and prepared his celebrated work, the “Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy," which appeared in 1785. His “Horæ Paulinæ" followed in 1790, and his "Evidences of Christianity” in 1794. Soon after this, he became so infirm as to be incapable of preaching, and he devoted his attention almost exclusively to the preparation of his “Natural Theology, or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of a Deity, collected from the Appearances of Nature,” which was published in 1802. He died on the 25th of May, 1805, leaving a wife and eight children.
"Dr. Paley was, in private life, a cheerful, social, unassuming character, and of an equable temper. He entered with great zest into the common enjoyments of life, and was anxious to promote good humor and harmless mirth on all occasions. His conversation was free and unreserved: he had a strong relish of wit, a copious fund of anecdote, and told a story with peculiar archness and naïveté."
“As a writer, he did not possess a comprehensive and grasping genius, nor was he endowed with a rich and sparkling imagination. His mind was well informed, but not furnished with deep, extensive, ponderous erudition. His distinguishing characteristic is a penetrating understanding, and a clear logical head: what he himself comprehends fully, that he details luminously.