페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Which I behold with trembling, when I think
What lamentable change, a year—a month-
May bring; that Brook converting as it runs
Into an Instrument of deadly bane
For those, who, yet untempted to forsake
The simple occupations of their Sires,
Drink the pure water of its innocent stream
With lip almost as pure.—Domestic bliss,
(Or call it comfort, by a humbler name,)
How art thou blighted for the poor Man's heart !
Lo! in such neighbourhood, from morn to eve,
The Habitations empty! or perchance
The Mother left alone,—no helping hand
To rock the cradle of her peevish babe;
No daughters round her, busy at the wheel,
Or in dispatch of each day's little growth
Of household occupation; no nice arts
Of needle-work; no bustle at the fire,
Where once the dinner was prepared with pride ;
Nothing to speed the day, or cheer the mind;
Nothing to praise, to teach, or to command !

- The Father, if perchance he still retain His old employments, goes to field or wood,

No longer led or followed by his Sons;
Idlers perchance they were,—but in his sight;
Breathing fresh air, and treading the green earth ;
'Till their short holiday of childhood ceased,
Ne'er to return ! That birth-right now is lost.
Economists will tell you that the State
Thrives by the forfeiture—unfeeling thought,
And false as monstrous! Can the Mother thrive
By the destruction of her innocent Sons ?
In whom a premature Necessity
Blocks out the forms of Nature, preconsumes
The reason,,

famishes the heart, shuts up
The infant Being in itself, and makes
Its very spring a season of decay ?
The lot is wretched, the condition sad,
Whether a pining discontent survive,
And thirst for change; or habit hath subdued
The soul depressed ; dejected—even to love
Of her dull tasks, and close captivity.

Oh, banish far such Wisdom as condemns A native Briton to these inward chains, Fixed in his soul, so early and so deep, Without his own consent, or knowledge, fixed !

He is a Slave to whom release comes not,
And cannot come. The Boy, where'er he turns,
Is still a prisoner; when the wind is up
Among the clouds and in the ancient woods ;
Or when the sun is rising in the heavens,
Quiet and calm. Behold him in the school
Of his attainments ? no; but with the air
Fanning his temples under heaven's blue arch.
His raiment, whitened o'er with cotton flakes,
Or locks of wool, announces whence he comes.
Creeping his gait and cowering—his lip pale
His respiration quick and audible;
And scarcely could you fancy that a gleam
From out those languid eyes could break, or blush

his cheek. Is this the form,
Is that the countenance, and such the port,
Of no mean Being? One who should be clothed
With dignity befitting his proud hope;
Who, in his very childhood, should

, appear Sublime-from present purity and joy! The limbs increase; but, liberty of mind Thus gone

for ever, this organic Frame, Which from heaven's bounty we receive, instinct

Mantle upon

With light, and gladsome motions, soon becomes
Dull, to the joy of her own motions dead;
And even the Touch, so exquisitely poured
Through the whole body, with a languid Will
Performs its functions ; rarely competent
To impress a vivid feeling on the mind
Of what there is delightful in the breeze,
The gentle visitations of the sun,
Or lapse of liquid element-by hand,
Or foot, or lip, in summer's warmth-perceived.
- Can hope look forward to a manhood raised
On such foundations?"

“ Hope is none for him,"
The pale Recluse indignantly exclaimed,
“ And tens of thousands suffer wrong as deep.
Yet be it asked, in justice to our age,
If there were not, before those Arts appeared,
These Structures rose, commingling old and young,
And unripe sex with sex, for mutual taint;
Then, if there were not, in our far-famed Işle,
Multitudes, who from infancy had breathed
Air unimprisoned, and had lived at large;
Yet walked beneath the sun, in human shape,

As abject, as degraded ? At this day,
Who shall enumerate the crazy huts
And tottering hovels, whence do issue forth
A ragged Offspring, with their own blanched hair
Crowned like the image of fantastic Fear;
Or wearing, we might say, in that white growth
An ill-adjusted turban, for defence
Or fierceness, wreathed around their sun-burnt brows,
By savage Nature's unassisted care.
Naked and coloured like the soil, the feet
On which they stand; as if thereby they drew
Some nourishment, as Trees do by their roots,
From Earth the common Mother of us all.
Figure and mien, complexion and attire,
Are framed to strike dismay, but the outstretched hånd
And whining voice denote thèm Supplicants
For the least boon that pity can bestow.
Such on the breast of darksome heaths are found;
And with their Parents dwell upon the skirts
Of furze-clad commons; and are born añd reared
At the mine's mouth, beneath impending rocks,
Or in the chambers of some natural cave;
And where their Ancestors erected huts,

« 이전계속 »