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History of the Church in England. If our Produc. tions, thus unintentionally coinciding, shall be found to illustrate each other, it will prove a high gratification to me, which I am sure my Friend will participate.

W. WORDSWORTH.

Rydal MOUNT,
January 24. 1822.

For the convenience of passing from one point of the subject to another without shocks of abruptness, this work has taken the shape of a series of Sonnets : but the Reader, it is hoped, will find that the pictures are often so closely connected as to have jointly the effect of passages of a poem in a form of stanza to which there is no objection but one that bears upon the Poet only its difficulty.

ECCLESIASTICAL SKETCHES.

PART I.

1.

INTRODUCTION.

I, who accompanied with faithful pace
Cerulean Duddon from his cloud-fed spring,
And loved with Spirit ruled by his to sing
Of mountain quiet and boon nature's grace;
I, who essayed the nobler Stream to trace
Of Liberty, and smote the plausive string
Till the checked Torrent, proudly triumphing,
Won for herself a lasting resting-place;
Now seek upon the heights of Time the source
Of a Holy RIVER, on whose banks are found
Sweet pastoral flowers, and laurels that have crowned
Full oft the unworthy brow of lawless force;
Where, for delight of him who tracks its course, .
Immortal amaranth and palms abound.

II. — CONJECTURES.
If there be prophets on whose spirits rest
Past things, revealed like future, they can tell
What Powers, presiding o'er the sacred Well
Of Christain Faith, this savage Island blessed
With its first bounty. Wandering through the West,
Did holy Paul * a while in Britain dwell,
And call the Fountain forth by miracle,
And with dread signs the nascent Stream invest ?
Or He, whose bonds dropped off, whose prison doors
Flew open, by an Angel's voice unbarred ?
Or some of humbler name, to these wild shores
Storm-driven, who having seen the cup of woe
Pass from their Master, sojourned here to guard
The precious Current they had taught to flow ?

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III. — TREPIDATION OF THE DRUIDS. SCREAMS round the Arch-druid's brow the Seamewt-white As Menai's foam ; and tow'rd the mystic ring Where Augurs stand; the future questioning, Slowly the Cormorant aims her heavy flight, Portending ruin to each baleful rite, That, in the lapse of ages, hath crept o'er Diluvian truths, and patriarchal lore. " Haughty the Bard; — can these meek doctrines blight His transports ? wither his heroic strains ? But all shall be fulfilled; the Julian spear A way first opened ; and, with Roman chains, The tidings come of Jesus crucified ; They come — they spread — the weak, the suffering, hear; Receive the faith, and in the hope abide.

* See note, p. 194.

+ This water-fowl was, among the Druids, an emblem of those traditions connected with the deluge that made an important part of their mysteries. The Cormorant was a bird of bad omen.

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IV. - DRUIDICAL EXCOMMUNICATION.
MERCY and Love have met thee on thy road,
Thou wretched Outcast, from the gift of fire
And food eut off by sacerdotal ire,
From every sympathy that Man bestowed !
Yet shall it claim our reverence, that to God,
Ancient of days ! that to the eternal Sire
These jealous Ministers of Law aspire,
As to the one sole fount whence Wisdom flowed,
Justice, and Order. Tremblingly escaped,
As if with prescience of the coming storm,
That intimation when the stars were shaped ;
And still, 'mid yon thick woods, the primal truth
Glimmers through many a superstitious form
That fills the Soul with unavailing ruth.

V. - UNCERTAINTY. DARKNESS surrounds us ; seeking, we are lost, a' On Snowdon's wilds, amid Brigantian coves, Or where the solitary Shepherd roves Along the Plain of Sarum, by the Ghost Of Time and Shadows of Tradition, crost; And where the boatman of the Western Isles : Slackens his course to mark those holy piles Which yet survive on bleak Iona's coast. Nor these, nor monuments of eldest fame, Nor Taliesin's unforgotten lays, Nor characters of Greek or Roman fame, To an unquestionable Source have led ; Enough — if eyes that sought the fountain-head, In vain, upon the growing Rill may gaze,

VI. — PERSECUTION. LAMENT! for Dioclesian's fiery sword Works busy as the lightning: but instinct With malice ne'er to deadliest weapon linked, Which God's ethereal store-houses afford : Against the Followers of the incarnate Lord It rages; some are smitten in the field — Some pierced beneath the ineffectual shield Of sacred home; — with pomp are others gored And dreadful respite. Thus was Alban tried, England's first Martyr, whom no threats could shake : Self-offered Victim, for his friend he died, And for the faith — nor shall his name forsake That Hill *, whose flowery platform seems to rise By Nature decked for holiest sacrifice.

VII. — RECOVERY.
As, when a storm hath ceased, the birds regain
Their cheerfulness, and busily retrim
Their nests, or chant a gratulating hymn
To the blue ether and bespangled plain;
Even so, in many a re-constructed fane,
Have the Survivors of this Storm renewed

Their holy rites with vocal gratitude:
And solemn ceremonials they ordain

To celebrate their great deliverance;
Most feelingly instructed 'mid their fear,

That persecution, blind with rage extreme,
May not the less, through Heaven's mild countenance,
Even in her own despite, both feed and cheer;
For all things are less dreadful than they seem.

. * See note, p. 194.

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