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These grey majestic cliffs that tower to heaven,
These glimmering glades and open chesnut groves,
That echo to the heifer's wandering bell,
Or woodman's axe, or steers-man's song beneath,
As on he urges his fir-laden bark,
Or shout of goat-herd boy above them all,
Who loves not? And who blesses not the light,
When thro' some loop-hole he surveys the lake
Blue as a sapphire-stone, and richly set
With chateaux, villages, and village-spires,
Orchards and vineyards, alps and alpine snows?
Here would I dwell; nor visit, but in thought,
Ferney far south, silent and empty now
As now thy once-luxurious bowers, RIPAILLE;
* The retreat of Amadeus, the first Duke of Savoy. Voltaire thus addresses it from his windows :
• Ripaille, je te vois. O bizarre Amédée,' 8c.
The seven towers are now no longer a land-mark to the voyager,
Vevey, so long an exiled Patriot's * home ;
Or Chillon's dungeon-floors beneath the wave,
Channelled and worn by pacing to and fro;
LAUSANNE, where Gibbon in his sheltered walk
Nightly called up the Shade of ancient Rome;t
Or COPPET, and that dark untrodden grove
Sacred to Virtue, and a daughter's tears !
+ He has given us a very natural account of his feelings at the conclusion of his long labour there: “It was on the night of the 27th of June, 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page in a summer-house in my garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau or covered walk of acacias, which commands the lake and the mountains. The sky was serene, the moon was shining on the waters, and I will not dissemble my joy. But, when I reflected that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion,” &c.
There must always be something melancholy in the moment of separation, as all have more or less experienced; none more perhaps than Cowper :—“And now,” says he, “I have only to regret that my pleasant work is ended. To the illustrious Greek I owe the smooth and easy flight of many thousand hours. He has been my companion at home and abroad, in the study, in the garden, and in the field; and no measure of success, labours succeed as they may, will ever compensate to me the loss of the innocent luxury that I have enjoyed, as a Translator of Homer.”
The burial-place of NECKER.
Here would I dwell, forgetting and forgot;
And oft methinks (of such strange potency
The spells that Genius scatters where he will)
Oft should I wander forth like one in search,
And say, half-dreaming, Here St. Preux has stood!'
Then turn and gaze on CLARENS.
Yet there is,
Within an eagle's flight and less, a scene
Still nobler if not fairer (once again
Would I behold it ere these eyes are closed,
For I can say, 'I also have been there!)
That Sacred Lake * withdrawn among the hills,
Its depth of waters flanked as with a wall
Built by the Giant-race before the flood;
Where not a cross or chapel but inspires
Holy delight, lifting our thoughts to God
From God-like men,-men in a barbarous age
That dared assert their birth-right, and displayed
Deeds half-divine, returning good for ill;
That in the desert sowed the seeds of life,
Framing a band of small Republics there,
Which still exist, the envy of the world!
Who would not land in each, and tread the ground;
Land where Tell leaped ashore ; and climb to drink
Of the three hallowed fountains ? He that does,
Comes back the better; and relates at home
That he was met and greeted by a race
Such as he read of in his boyish days;
Such as MILTIADES at Marathon
Led, when he chased the Persians to their ships.
There, while the well-known boat is heaving in,
Piled with rude merchandise, or launching forth,
Thronged with wild cattle for Italian fairs,
There in the sun-shine, 'mid their native snows,
Children, let loose from school, contend to use
The cross-bow of their fathers; and o’er-run
The rocky field where all, in every age,
Assembling sit, like one great family,
Forming alliances, enacting laws;
Each cliff and head-land and green promontory
Graven to their eyes with records of the past
That prompt to hero-worship, and excite
Even in the least, the lowliest, as he toils,
A reverence no where else or felt or feigned;
Their chronicler great Nature ; and the volume
Vast as her works-above, below, around !
The fisher on thy beach, THERMOPYLE,
Asks of the lettered stranger why he came,
First from his lips to learn the glorious truth!
And who that whets his scythe in RONNEMEDE,
Though but for them a slave, recalls to mind
The barons in array, with their great charter ?
Among the everlasting Alps alone,
There to burn on as in a sanctuary,
Bright and unsullied lives the ethereal flame;
And 'mid those scenes unchanged, unchangeable,
Why should it ever die?