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And sweetness, without which no pleasure is
In converse, either starved by cold reserve,
Or flush'd with fierce dispute, a senseless brawl.
The Winter Morning Walk.
The night was winter in its roughest mood,
The morning sharp and clear.
But now at noon
Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendour of the scene below.
Again the harmony comes o'er the vale,
And through the trees I view the embattled tower
Whence all the music. I again perceive
The soothing influence of the wafted strains,
And settle in soft musings as I tread
The walk still verdant, under oaks and elms,
Whose outspread branches overarch the glade.
The roof though moveable through all its length,
As the wind sways it, has yet well sufficed,
* See Shakespeare's language on the same subject, page 46. • Wisdom' and 'Learning'are, in the popular estimate, too frequently confounded, as though they were necessarily synonymous and convertible terms. Montaigne (whose ideas are not always so unexceptionable) has admirably pointed out the difference between the most and the best learning. And commenting on the verse of the Hellenic poet :
Ως ουδέν ή μάθησις, ήν μη νους παρή, he exclaims, 'Plût à Dieu que, pour le bien de notre justice, ces compaignies-là [parliaments, &c.] se trouvassent aussi bien fournies d'entendement et de conscience, comme elles sont encore de science ! Non vitæ sed schole discimus.'—Essais. Du Pédantisme.
And intercepting in their silent fall
The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The redbreast warbles still, but is content
With slender notes and more than half-suppress'd :
Pleased with his solitude, and flitting light
where'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendent drops of ice,
That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below.
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft,
Charms more than silence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart
May give a useful lesson to the head,
And learning wiser grow without his books.
Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, Have ofttimes no connection. Knowledge dwells In heads replete with thoughts of other men, Wisdom in minds attentive to their own. Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass, The mere materials with which wisdom builds, Till smooth'd and squared and fitted to its place, Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich. Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much ; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more. Books are not seldom talismans and spells, By which the magic art of shrewder wits Holds an unthinking multitude enthrall’d. Some to the fascination of a name Surrender judgment hoodwink’d. Some the style Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds Of error leads them, by a tune entranced. While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear The insupportable fatigue of thought; And swallowing therefore, without pause or choice,
The total grist unsifted, husks and all.
But trees, and rivulets whose rapid course Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer, And sheepwalks populous with bleating lambs, And lanes in which the primrose ere her time Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn root, Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and truth, Not shy as in the world, and to be won By slow solicitation, seize at once The roving thought, and fix it on themselves.
The Winter Walk at Noon,
All we behold is miracle, but seen
So duly, all is miracle in vain.
Where now the vital energy that moved,
While summer was, the pure and subtle lymph
Through the imperceptible meandering veins
Of leaf and flower? It sleeps, and the icy touch
Of unprolific winter has impress'd
A cold stagnation on the intestine tide.
But let the months go round, a few short months,
And all shall be restored. These naked.shoots,
Barren as lances, among which the wind
Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes,
Shall put their graceful foliage on again,
And more aspiring, and with ampler spread,
Shall boast new charms, and more than they have lost.
Then, each in its peculiar honours clad,
Shall publish, even to the distant eye,
Its family and tribe. Laburnum rich
In streaming gold; syringa ivory pure;
The scentless and the scented rose, this red
And of a humbler growth, the other tall,
And throwing up into the darkest gloom
Of neighbouring cypress, or more sable yew,
Her silver globes, light as the foaming surf
That the wind severs from the broken wave;
The lilac various in array, now white,
Now sanguine, and her beauteous head now set
With purple spikes pyramidal, as if
Studious of ornament, yet unresolved
Which hue she most approved, she chose them all;
Copious of flowers the woodbine, pale and wan,
But well compensating her sickly looks
With never-cloying odours, early and late;
Hypericum all bloom, so thick a swarm
Of flowers like flies clothing her slender rods
That scarce a leaf appears; mezereon, too,
Though leafless, well attired, and thick beset
With blushing wreaths, investing every spray;
Althæa with the purple eye; the broom,
Yellow and bright as bullion unalloy'd
Her blossoms; and luxuriant above all
The jasmine, throwing wide her elegant sweets,
The deep dark green of whose unvarnish'd leaf
Makes more conspicuous, and illumines more
The bright profusion of her scatter'd stars.
These have been, and these shall be in their day :
And all this uniform, uncolour'd scene
Shall be dismantled of its fleecy load,
And flush into variety again.
HERE unmolested, through whatever sign
The sun proceeds, I wander: neither mist,
Nor freezing sky, nor sultry, checking me,
Nor stranger intermeddling with my joy.
E’en in the spring and playtime of the year,
That calls the unwonted villager abroad
With all her little ones, a sportive train,
To gather kingcups in the yellow mead,
And prink their hair with daisies, or to pick
A cheap but wholesome salad from the brook,
These shades are all my own. The timorous hare,
Grown so familiar with her frequent guest,
Scarce shuns me; and the stock dove, unalarm’d,
Sits cooing in the pine tree, nor suspends
His long love-ditty for my near approach.
Drawn from his refuge in some lonely elm
That age or injury has hollow'd deep,
Where, on his bed of wool and matted leaves,
He has outslept the winter, ventures forth
To frisk awhile, and bask in the warm sun,
The squirrel, flippant, pert, and full of play:
He sees me, and at once, swift as a bird,
Ascends the neighbouring beech; there whisks his brush,
And perks his ears, and stamps and scolds aloud,
With all the prettiness of feign'd alarm,
And anger insignificantly fierce.