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And management of nations; what it is 100 And ought to be; and strove to learn how

far Their power or weakness, wealth or pov

erty, Their happiness or misery, depends Upon their laws, and fashion of the State.

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To wield it; — they, too, who of gentle

mood Had watched all gentle motions, and to

these Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers

more mild, And in the region of their peaceful

selves; Now was it that both found, the meek

and lofty Did both find, helpers to their hearts'

desire, And stuff at hand, plastic as they could

wish, Were called upon to exercise their skill, Not in Utopia, subterranean fields, Or some secreted island, heaven knows

where! But in the very world, which is the world Of all of us,

the place where, in the end, We find our happiness, or not at all!

140

O pleasant exercise of hope and joy! 105 For mighty were the auxiliars which then

stood Upon our side, us who were strong in love! Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very Heaven! O

times, In which the meagre, stale, forbidding

ways Of custom, law, and statute, took at once The attraction of a country in romance! When Reason seemed the most to assert

her rights When most intent on making of herself A prime enchantress - to assist the

work, Which then was going forward in her

name! Not favored spots alone, but the whole

Earth, The beauty wore of promise — that which

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Why should I not confess that Earth

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was then

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To me, what an inheritance, new-fallen, Seems, when the first time visited, to one Who thither comes to find in it his

home? He walks about and looks upon the spot With cordial transport, moulds it and re

moulds, And is half-pleased with things that are

amiss, 'Twill be such joy to see them disappear.

sets

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(As at some moments might not be unfelt Among the bowers of Paradise itself) 120 The budding rose above the rose full

blown. What temper at the prospect did not wake To happiness unthought of? The inert Were roused, and lively natures rapt

away! They who had fed their childhood upon

dreams, The play-fellows of fancy, who had made All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and

strength Their ministers, — who in lordly wise had

stirred Among the grandest objects of the sense, And dealt with whatsoever they found

there As if they had within some lurking right

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An active partisan, I thus convoked From every object pleasant circumstance To suit my ends; I moved among man

kind With genial feelings still predominant; When erring, erring on the better part, And in the kinder spirit; placable, Indulgent, as not uninformed that men See as they have been taught — An

tiquity Gives rights to error; and aware, no less That throwing off oppression must be

work As well of License as of Liberty;

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And above all — for this was more than

all Not caring if the wind did now and

then Blow keen upon an eminence that gave Prospect so large into futurity; In brief, a child of Nature, as at first, Diffusing only those affections wider That from the cradle had grown up with

me, And losing, in no other way than light Is lost in light, the weak in the more

strong.

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The immediate proof of principles no more Could be entrusted, while the events them

selves, Worn out in greatness, stripped of novelty, Less occupied the mind, and sentiments Could through my understanding's nat

ural growth No longer keep their ground, by faith

maintained Of inward consciousness, and hope that

laid Her hand upon her object — evidence Safer, of universal application, such As could not be impeached, was sought

elsewhere.

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But
now,
become
oppressors

in their turn, Frenchmen had changed a

war of selfdefence For one of conquest, losing sight of all Which they had struggled for: up mounted

now, Openly in the eye of earth and heaven, 210 The scale of liberty. I read her doom, With anger vexed, with disappointment

sore, But not dismayed, nor taking to the

shame Of a false prophet. While resentment

con

In the main outline, such it might be

said Was my condition, till with open war Britain opposed the liberties of France. 175 This threw me first out of the pale of

love; Soured and corrupted, upwards to the

source, My sentiments; was not, as hitherto, A swallowing up of lesser things in great, But change of them into their

traries; And thus a way was opened for mistakes And false conclusions, in degree as gross, In kind more dangerous. What had been

a pride, Was now

a shame; my likings and my loves Ran in new channels, leaving old ones

dry; And hence a blow that, in maturer age, Would but have touched the judgment,

struck more deep Into sensations near the heart: meantime, As from the first, wild theories were

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rose

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Striving to hide, what nought could heal,

the wounds Of mortified presumption, I adhered More firmly to old tenets, and, to prove Their temper, strained them more; and

thus, in heat Of contest, did opinions every day Grow into consequence, till round my

mind They clung, as if they were its life, nay

more, The very being of the immortal soul.

afloat,

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To whose pretensions, sedulously urged, 190 I had but lent a careless ear, assured That time was ready to set all things

right, And that the multitude, so long oppressed, Would be oppressed no more.

But when events Brought less encouragement, and unto these

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Out of his feelings, to be fixed thence

forth For ever in a purer element Found ready welcome. Tempting region

that For Zeal to enter and refresh herself, Where passions had the privilege to

work, And never hear the sound of their own

excuse

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names.

ex

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Those aberrations — had the clamorous friends

260 Of ancient institutions said and done To bring disgrace upon their very names; Disgrace, of which, custom and written

law, And sundry moral sentiments as props Or emanations of those institutes, Too justly bore a part. A veil had been Uplifted; why deceive ourselves ? in

sooth, 'Twas even so; and sorrow for the man Who either had not eyes wherewith to see, Or, seeing, had forgotten! A strong

shock Was given to old opinions; all men's minds Had felt its power, and mine was both let

loose, Let loose and goaded. After what hath

been Already said of patriotic love, Suffice it here to add, that, somewhat

stern In temperament, withal a happy man, And therefore bold to look on painful

things, Free likewise of the world, and thence

more bold, I summoned my best skill, and toiled,

intent To anatomize the frame of social life; 280 Yea, the whole body of society Searched to its heart. Share with me,

Friend! the wish That some dramatic tale, endued with

shapes Livelier, and Ainging out less guarded

words Than suit the work we fashion, might set

forth What then I learned, or think I learned,

of truth, And the errors into which I fell, betrayed By present objects, and by reasonings false

But, speaking more in charity, the dream Flattered the young, pleased with

tremes, nor least With that which makes our reason's naked

self The object of its fervor. What de

light! How glorious ! in self-knowledge and self

rule, To look through all the frailties of the

world, And, with a resolute mastery shaking off Infirmities of nature, time, and place, Build social upon personal liberty, Which, to the blind restraints of general

laws, Superior, magisterially adopts One guide, the light of circumstances,

flashed Upon an independent intellect. Thus expectation rose again; thus hope, 245 From her first ground expelled, grew

proud once more. Oft, as my thoughts were turned to human

kind, I scorned indifference; but, inflamed with

thirst Of a secure intelligence, and sick Of other longing, I pursued what

seemed A more

exalted nature; wished that Man Should start out of his earthly, worm-like

state, And spread abroad the wings of Liberty, Lord of himself, in undisturbed delight A noble aspiration! yet I feel (Sustained by worthier as by wiser

thoughts)

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From their beginnings, inasmuch as drawn Out of a heart that had been turned aside

290 From Nature's way by outward accidents, And which was thus confounded, more

and more Misguided, and misguiding. So I fared, Dragging all precepts, judgments, maxims,

creeds, Like culprits to the bar; calling the

mind, Suspiciously, to establish in plain day Her titles and her honors; now believing, Now disbelieving; endlessly perplexed With impulse, motive, right and wrong,

the ground Of obligation, what the rule and whence

300 The sanction; till, demanding formal

proof, And seeking it in every thing, I lost All feeling of conviction, and, in fine, Sick, wearied out with contrarieties, Yielded up moral questions in despair. 305

Depressed, bewildered thus, I did not

walk With scoffers, seeking light and gay re

venge From indiscriminate laughter, nor

sate down In reconcilement with an utter waste Of intellect; such sloth I could not

brook (Too well I loved, in that my spring of

life, Painstaking thoughts, and truth, their dear

reward), But turned to abstract science, and there

sought Work for the reasoning faculty

throned Where the disturbances of space and

time Whether in matters various, properties Inherent, or from human will and power Derived -- find no admission. Then it

en

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Of sudden admonition-like a brook
That did but cross a lonely road, and now
Is seen, heard, felt, and caught at every

turn, Companion never lost through many a

league Maintained for me a saving intercourse With my true self; for, though bedimmed

and changed Much, as it seemed, I was no further

changed Than as a clouded and a waning moon: She whispered still that brightness would

return; She, in the midst of all, preserved me still A Poet, made me seek beneath that name, And that alone, my office upon earth; And, lastly, as hereafter will be shown, If willing audience fail not, Nature's

self, By all varieties of human love

would yet

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common

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Nor heedeth Man's perverseness; Spring

returns, I saw the Spring return, and could rejoice, In

with the children of her love, Piping on boughs, or sporting on fresh fields,

35 Or boldly seeking pleasure nearer heaven On wings that navigate cerulean skies. So neither were complacency, nor peace, Nor tender yearnings, wanting for my

good Through these distracted times; in Nature

still Glorying, I found a counterpoise in her, Which, when the spirit of evil reached its

height, Maintained for me a secret happiness.

From BOOK TWELFTH

Nature's Healing

40

From THE RECLUSE

(c. 1800)

15

755

Ye motions of delight, that haunt the

sides Of the green hills; ye breezes and soft airs,

10 Whose subtle intercourse with breathing

flowers, Feelingly watched, might teach Man's

haughty race How without injury to take, to give Without offence; ye who, as if to show The wondrous influence of power gently

used, Bend the complying heads of lordly pines, And, with a touch, shift the stupendous

clouds Through the whole compass of the sky;

ye brooks, Muttering along the stones, a busy noise By day, a quiet sound in silent night; 20 Ye waves, that out of the great deep steal

forth In a calm hour to kiss the pebbly shore, Not mute, and then retire, fearing no

storm; And you, ye groves, whose ministry it is To interpose the covert of your shades, 25 Even as a sleep, between the heart of man And outward troubles, between man him

self, Not seldom, and his own uneasy heart: Oh! that I had a music and a voice Harmonious as your own, that I might

tell What ye have done for me. The morning

shines,

On Man, on Nature, and on Human

Life, Musing in solitude, I oft perceive Fair trains of imagery before me rise, Accompanied by feelings of delight Pure, or with no unpleasing sadness mixed; And I am conscious of affecting thoughts And dear remembrances, whose presence

soothes Or elevates the mind, intent to weigh The good and evil of our mortal state.

760

To these emotions, whencesoe'er they

come, Whether from breath of outward circum

stance, Or from the Soul an impulse to herself

765 I would give utterance in numerous verse. Of Truth, of Grandeur, Beauty, Love,

and Hope, And melancholy Fear subdued by Faith; Of blessed consolation in distress; Of moral strength, and intellectual power;

770 Of joy in widest commonalty spread;

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