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Conscrits, au pas.
Ne pleurez pas.
Ne pleurez pas.
Marchez au pas.
Au pas, au pas, au pas, au pas !
These men pronounced the chorus : Conscrits au pas. Ne pleurez pas ... Marchez au pas, au pas, au pas, in a tone so manly, and so pathetic, that tears started into my eyes. Marking the step themselves, as they drew out their hemp, they seemed to be spinning the last moment of the Vieux Caporal. Who had taught them this ballad ? Assuredly not literature, not criticism, not taught admiration, all that is subservient to reputation and renown, but a genuine accent from some quarter or other had reached their humble minds. I cannot express all that there was in this glory peculiar to Beranger, in this glory thus solitarily revealed by two sailors, singing at sun-set, in sight of the sea, the death of a soldier.
BURNS, Mason, Cowper, died during my emigration to London, before and in 1800; they concluded the century: I began the new one. Darwin and Beattie died two years after my return from exile.
Beattie had announced the new era of the lyre. “ The Minstrel, or the Progress of Genius," delineates the first effects of the Muse on a young bard, who is yet a stranger to the spirit by which he is tormented. Sometimes the future poet seats himself on the margin of the sea during a storm; sometimes he quits the village sports to listen alone and at a distance to the sound of the bagpige. The poem is written in the Spenserian stanza.
The rolls of fame I will not now explore ;
Nor need I here describe in learned lay,
How forth the minstrel far'd in days of yore,
Right glad of heart, though homely in array ;
His waving locks and beard all hoary grey :
While from his bending shoulder decent hung
His harp—the sole companion of his way,
Which to the whistling wind responsive rung:
And ever as he went some merry lay he sung.
The wight whose tale these artless lines unfold,
Was all the offspring of an humble pair.
There lived in Gothic days, as legends tell,
A shepherd-swain, a man of low degree;
Whose sires, perchance, in Fairyland might dwell.
Sicilian groves or vales of Arcady;
But he, I ween, was of the north countrie;
A nation fam'd for song and beauty's charms ;
Zealous, yet modest; innocent, though free ;
Patient of toil, serene amidst alarms;
Inflexible in faith, invincible in arms.
Poor Edwin was no vulgar boy,
Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his infant eye,
Dainties he heeded not, nor gaud, nor toy,
Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy:
Silent when glad ; affectionate, though shy;
And now his look was most demurely sad ;
And now he laughed aloud, yet none knew why.
The neighbours stard and sigh'd, yet bless'd the lad;
Some deem'd him wond'rous wise, and some believ'd him mad.
But why should I his childish feats display?
Concourse and noise and toil he ever fled ;
Nor car'd to mingle in the clamorous fray
Of squabbling imps; but to the forest sped;
Or roam'd at large the lonely mountain's head;
Or where the maze of some bewilder'd stream
To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led,
There would he wander wild, till Phæbus' beam,
Shot from the western cliff, releas'd the weary team.
Lo! where the stripling, wrapt in wonder, roves
Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine;
And sees on high, amidst th' encircling groves,
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine :
While waters, woods, and winds in concert join
And Echo swells the chorus to the skies.
And oft he traced the uplands to survey,
When o'er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain grey,
And lake, dim-gleaming on the smoky lawn:
Far to the west the long long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while.
And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,
When all in mist the world below was lost,
What dreadful pleasure! there to stand sublime,
Like shipwreck'd mariner on desert coast,
And view th’ enormous waste of vapour, tost
In billows, lengthening to th' horizon round,
Now coop'd in gulfs, with mountains now emboss'd!
And hear the voice of song and mirth rebound, Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar profound !
See in the rear of the warm summer shower
The visionary boy for shelter fly;
For now the storm of summer rain is o'er
And cool, and fresh, and fragrant, is the sky.
And lo! in the dark east, expanded high,
The rainbow brightens to the setting sun !
Fond fool that deem'st the streaming glory nigh,
How vain the chase thine ardour has begun ! 'Tis fled afar, ere half thy purpos'd race be run.
When the long-sounding curfew from afar
Loaded with loud lament the lonely gale,
Young Edwin, lighted by the evening star,
Lingering and listening, wander'd down the vale.
There would he dream of graves and corses pale ;
And ghosts that to the charnel-dungeon throng,
And drag a length of clanking chain and wail,
Till silenced by the owl's terrific song
Or blast that shrieks by fits the shuddering aisles along
Or when the setting moon in crimson dyed
Hung o’er the dark and melancholy deep,
To haunted stream, remote from man, he hied,
Where fays of yore their revels wont to keep,
And there let Fancy rove at large, till sleep
A vision brought to his entranced sight.
The dream is fled
Even now his eyes with smiles of rapture glow,
As on he wanders through the scenes of morn,
Where the fresh flowers in living lustre blow,
Where thousand pearls the dewy lawns adorn,
A thousand notes of joy in every
breeze are borne.
But who the melodies of morn can tell?
The wild brook babbling down the mountain side ;
The lowing herd; the sheepfold's simple bell;
The pipe of early shepherd dim descried
In the lone valley ; echoing far and wide
The clamorous horn along the cliffs above;
The hollow murmur of the ocean tide;
The hum of bees, the linnet's lay of love,
And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.
The cottage curs at early pilgrim bark ;
Crown'd with her pail the tripping milkmaid sings ;
The whistling ploughman stalks afield, and, hark !
Down the rough slope the ponderous waggon rings ;
Through rustling corn the hare astonish'd springs ;
Slow tolls the village clock the drowsy hour ;
The partridge bursts away on whirring wings:
Deep mourns the turtle in sequester’d bower,
And shrill lark carols clear from her aërial tower.