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From Ellen's thoughts ; had perished to her mind
For all concerns of fear, or hope, or love,
Save only those which to their common shame,
And to his moral being appertained :
Hope from that quarter would, I know, have brought
A heavenly comfort; there she recognised
An unrelaxing bond, a mutual need ;
There, and, as seemed, there only.—She had raised,
Her fond maternal Heart had built a Nest
In blindness all too near the river's edge;
That Work a summer flood with hasty swell
Had swept away; and now her Spirit longed
For its last flight to Heaven's security.
– The bodily frame was wasted day by day;
Meanwhile, relinquishing all other cares,
Her mind she strictly tutored to find peace
And pleasure in endurance. Much she thought,
And much she read; and brooded feelingly
Upon her own unworthiness. To me,
As to a spiritual comforter and friend,
Her heart she opened; and no pains were spared
To mitigate, as gently as I could,
The sting of self-reproach, with healing words.
- Meek Saint! through patience glorified on earth!
In whom, as by her lonely hearth she sate,
The ghastly face of cold decay put on
A sun-like beauty, and appeared divine !
May I not mention--that, within these walls,
In due observance of her pious wish,
The Congregation joined with me in prayer
For her Souls good? Nor was that office vain.
-Much did she suffer: but, if any Friend,
Beholding her condition, at the sight
Gave way to words of pity or complaint,
She stilled them with a prompt reproof, and said,
“ He who afflicts me knows what I can bear;
And, when I fail, and can endure no more,
“ Will mercifully take me to himself.”
So, through the cloud of death, her Spirit passed
pure and unknown world of love, Where injury cannot come:-and here is laid The mortal Body by her Infants side."
The Vicar ceased; and downcast looks made known That Each had listened with his inmost heart. For me, the emotion scarcely was less strong
Or less benign than that which I had felt.
When, seated near my venerable Friend,
Beneath those shady elms, from him I heard
The story that retraced the slow decline
Of Margaret sinking on the lonely Heath,
With the neglected House in which she dwelt.
-I noted that the Solitary's cheek
Confessed the power of nature.—Pleased though sad,
More pleased thạn sad, the grey-haired Wanderer sate;
Thanks to his pure imaginative soul
Capacious and serene, his blameless life,
His knowledge, wisdom, love of truth, and love
Of human kind! He was it who first broke,
The pensive silence, saying, “ Blest are they
Whose sorrow rather is to suffer wrong
Than to do wrong, although themselves have erred.
This Tale gives proof that Heaven most gently deals
With such, in their affliction.-Ellen's fate,
Her tender spirit, and her contrite heart,
Call to my mind dark hints which I have heard
Of One who died within this Vale, by doom
Heavier, as his offence was heavier far.
Where, Sir, I pray you, where are laid the bones
Of Wilfred Armathwaite?”—The Vicar answered, “ In that green nook, close by the Church-yard wall, Beneath yon hawthorn, planted by myself In memory and for warning, and in sign Of sweetness where dire anguish had been known, Of reconcilement after deep offence, There doth he lie. In this his native Vale He owned and tilled a little plot of land; Here, with his Consort and his Children, saw Days—that were seldom crossed by petty strife, Years—safe from large misfortune; and maintained That course which minds, of insight not too keen, Might look on with entire complacency. Yet, in himself and near him, there were faults At work to undermine his happy state By sure, though tardy progress. Active, prompt, And lively was the Housewife; in the Vale None more industrious; but her industry, Ill-judged, full oft, and specious, tended more To splendid neatness; to a shewy, trim, And overlaboured purity of house; Than to substantial thrift. He, on his part, Generous and easy-minded, was 'not free
From carelessness; and thus, in lapse of time,
These joint infirmities induced decay
Of worldly substance; and distress of mind,
That to a thoughtful Man was hard to shun,
And which he could not cure. A blooming Girl
Served in the house, a Favourite that had grown
Beneath his eye, encouraged by his care.
Poor now in tranquil pleasure he gave way
To thoughts of troubled pleasure ; he became
A lawless Suitor to the Maid; and she
Yielded unworthily.Unhappy Man!
That which he had been weak enough to do
Was misery in remembrance; he was stung,
Stung by his inward thoughts, and by the smiles
Of Wife and Children stung to agony.
Wretched at home he gained no peace abroad;
Ranged though the mountains, slept upon the earth,
Asked comfort of the open air, and found
No quiet in the darkness of the night,
No pleasure in the beauty of the day.
His flock he slighted : his paternal fields
Became a clog to him, whose spirit wished
To Ay, but whither? And this gracious Church,