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During the summer of 1807, the Author visited, for
the first time, the beautiful Scenery that surrounds Bolton Priory, in Yorkshire; and the Poem of The White Doe, founded upon a Tradition connected with the place, was composed at the close of
“ They that deny a God, destroy Man's nobility : for certainly Man is of kinn to the Beasts by his Body; and if he be not of kinn to God by his Spirit, he is a base ignoble Creature. It destroys likewise Magnanimity, and the raising of humane Nature: for take an example of a Dogg, and mark what a generosity and courage he will put on, when he finds himself maintained by a Man, who to him is instead of a God, or Melior Natura. Which courage is manifestly such, as that Creature without that confidence of a better Nature than his own, could never attain. So Man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon Divine protection and favour, gathereth a force and faith which human Nature in itself could not obtain."
66 Weak is the will of Man, his judgment blind;
Remembrance persecutes, and Hope betrays;
Heavy is woe; - and joy, for human kind,
A mournful thing, so transient is the blaze!".
Thus might he paint our lot of mortal days
Who wants the glorious faculty, assigned
To elevate the more-than-reasoning Mind,
And colour life's dark cloud with orient rays.
Imagination is that sacred power,
Imagination lofty and refined :
'Tis her’s to pluck the amaranthine Flower
Of Faith, and round the Sufferer's temples bind
Wreaths that endure affliction's heaviest shower,
And do not shrink from sorrow's keenest wind.
In trellised shed with clustering roses gay,
And, MARY! oft beside our blazing fire,
When years of wedded life were as a day
Whose current answers to the heart's desire,
Did we together read in Spenser's Lay
How Una, sad of soul-in sad attire,
The gentle Una, born of heavenly birth,
To seek her Knight went wandering o'er the earth.
Ah, then, Beloved! pleasing was the smart,
And the tear precious in compassion shed
For Her, who, pierced by sorrow's thrilling dart,
Did meekly bear the pang unmerited ;
Meek as that emblem of her lowly heart
The milk-white Lamb which in a line she led, -
And faithful, loyal in her innocence,
Like the brave Lion slain in her defence.
Notes could we hear as of a faery shell
Attuned to words with sacred wisdom fraught;
Free Fancy prized each specious miracle,
And all its finer inspiration caught ;
'Till, in the bosom of our rustic Cell,
We by a lamentable change were taught
That “bliss with mortal Man may not abide :"
How nearly joy and sorrow are allied !
For us the stream of fiction ceased to flow,
For us the voice of melody was mute.
-But, as soft gales dissolve the dreary snow
And give the timid herbage leave to shoot,
Heaven's breathing influence failed not to bestow
A timely promise of unlooked-for fruit,
Fair fruit of pleasure and serene content
From blossoms wild of fancies innocent.
It soothed us - it beguiled us -- then, to hear Once more of troubles wrought by magic spell ; And griefs whose aery motion comes not near The pangs that tempt the Spirit to rebel ;