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XVIII. — APOLOGY.
XIX. — PRIMITIVE SAXON CLERGY.* How beautiful your presence, how benign, Servants of God! who not a thought will share With the vain world ; who, outwardly as bare As winter trees, yield no fallacious sign That the firm soul is clothed with fruit divine ! Such Priest, when service worthy of his care Has called him forth to breathe the common air, Might seem a saintly Image from its shrine Descended :- happy are the eyes that meet The Apparition; evil thoughts are stayed At his approach, and low-bowed necks entreat A benediction from his voice or hand; Whence grace, through which the heart can understand; And vows, that bind the will, in silence made.
* See note, p. 197.
XX. - OTHER INFLUENCES. Ah, when the Frame, round which in love we clung, Is chilled by death, does mutual service fail ? Is tender pity then of no avail ? Are intercessions of the fervent tongue A waste of hope ? — From this sad source have sprung Rites that console the spirit, under grief Which ill can brook more rational relief: Hence, prayers are shaped amiss, and dirges sung For Souls whose doom is fixed! The way is smooth For Power that travels with the human heart: Confession ministers, the pang to soothe In him who at the ghost of guilt doth start. Ye holy Men, so earnest in your care, Of your own mighty instruments beware!
XXI. — SECLUSION. LANCE, shield, and sword relinquished — at his side A Bead-roll, in his hand a clasped Book, Or staff more harmless than a Shepherd's crook, The war-worn Chieftain quits the world — to hide His thin autumnal locks where Monks abide In cloistered privacy. But not to dwell In soft repose he comes. Within his cell, Round the decaying trunk of human pride, At morn, and eve, and midnight's silent hour, Do penitential cogitations cling : Like ivy, round some ancient elm, they twine In grisly folds and strictures serpentine ; Yet, while they strangle without mercy, bring For recompense their own perennial bower.
XXII. — CONTINUED. Methinks that to some vacant Hermitage My feet would rather turn — to some dry nook Scooped out of living rock, and near a brook Hurled down a mountain-cove from stage to stage, Yet tempering, for my sight, its bustling rage In the soft heaven of a translucent pool; Thence creeping under forest arches cool, Fit haunt of shapes whose glorious equipage Would elevate my dreams. A beechen bowl, A maple dish, my furniture should be ; Crisp, yellow leaves my bed ; the hooting Owl My night-watch: nor should e'er the crested Fowl From thorp or vill his matins sound for me, Tired of the world and all its industry.
XXIII. -- REPROOF. But what if One, through grove or flowery mead, Indulging thus at will the creeping feet Of a voluptuous indolence, should meet Thy hovering Shade, O venerable Bede! The saint, the scholar, from a circle freed Of toil stupendous, in a hallowed seat Of learning, where thou heard'st the billows beat On a wild coast, rough monitors to feed Perpetual industry. Sublime Recluse! The recreant soul, that dares to shun the debt Imposed on human kind, must first forget Thy diligence, thy unrelaxing use Of a long life; and, in the hour of death, The last dear service of thy passing breath! * * He expired dictating the last words of a translation of St. John's Gospel. XXIV. SAXOX MONASTERIES, AND LIGHTS AND SHADES OF THE RELIGION. By such examples moved to unbought pains, The people work like congregated bees; * Eager to build the quiet Fortresses Where Piety, as they believe, obtains From Heaven a general blessing; timely rains Or needful sunshine; prosperous enterprise, Justice and peace : - bold faith! yet also rise The sacred Structures for less doubtful gains. The Sensual think with reverence of the palms Which the chaste Votaries seek, beyond the grave; If penance be redeemablet, thence alms Flow to the Poor, and freedom to the Slave; And if full oft the sanctuary save Lives black with guilt, ferocity it calms.
XXV. — MISSIONS AND TRAVELS. Not sedentary all : there are who roam To scatter seeds of Life on barbarous shores; Or quit with zealous step their knee-worn floors To seek the general Mart of Christendom; Whence they, like richly-laden Merchants, come To their beloved Cells : — or shall we say That, like the Red-cross Knight, they urge their way, To lead in memorable triumph home Truth — their immortal Una ? Babylon, Learned and wise, hath perished utterly, Nor leaves her Speech one word to aid the sigh That would lament her ; — Memphis, Tyre, are gone With all their Arts, — but classic Lore glides on By these Religious saved for all posterity. * See note, p. 198.
* See note, p. 198.
XXVI. - ALFRED. BEHOLD a Pupil of the Monkish gown, The pious ALFRED, King to Justice dear! Lord of the harp and liberating spear; Mirror of Princes! Indigent Renown Might range the starry ether for a crown Equal to his deserts, who, like the year, Pours forth his bounty, like the day doth cheer, And awes like night with mercy-tempered frown. Ease from this noble Miser of his time No moment steals; pain narrows not his cares. * Though small his kingdom as a spark or gem, Of Alfred boasts remote Jerusalem, And Christian India, through her wide-spread clime, In sacred converse gifts with Alfred shares.
XXVII. — HIS DESCENDANTS. CAN aught survive to linger in the veins Of kindred bodies — an essential power That may not vanish in one fatal hour, And wholly cast away terrestrial chains ? The race of Alfred covet glorious pains When dangers threaten, dangers ever new! Black tempests bursting, blacker still in view! But manly sovereignty its hold retains; The root sincere, the branches bold to strive With the fierce tempest, while, within the round Of their protection, gentle virtues thrive; As oft, 'mid some green plot of open ground, Wide as the oak extends its dewy gloom, The fostered hyacinths spread their purple bloom.
* See note, p. 198