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Written with a Slate-pencil, upon a Stone, the largest of a heap lying near a deserted Quarry, upon one of the Islands at Rydale.
Stranger ! this hillock of misshapen stones
Is not a ruin of the antient time,
Nor, as perehance thou rashly deem'st, the Cairn
Of some old British Chief: ’tis nothing more
Than the rude embryo of a little Dome
Or Pleasure-house, once destined to be built
Among the birch-trees of this rocky isle.
But, as it chanced, Sir William having learned
That from the shore a full-grown man might wade,
And make himself a freeman of this spot
At any hour he chose, the Knight forthwith
Desisted, and the quarry and the mound
Are monuments of his unfinished task.-
The block on which these lines are traced, perhaps,
Was once selected as the corner-stone
Of the intended Pile, which would have been
Some quaint odd play-thing of elaborate skill,
So that, I guess, the linnet and the thrush,
And other little Builders who dwell here,
Had wondered at the work. But blame him not,
For old Sir William was a gentle Knight
Bred in this vale, to which he appertained
With all his ancestry. Then peace to him,
And for the outrage which he had devised
Entire forgiveness ! But if thou art one
On fire with thy impatience to become
An inmate of these mountains, if, disturbed
By beautiful conceptions, thou hast hewn
Out of the quiet rock the elements
Of thy trim mansion destined soon to blaze
In snow-white glory, think again, and, taught
By old Sir William and his quarry,
Thy fragments to the bramble and the rose;
There let the vernal Slow-worm sun himself,
And let the Redbreast hop from stone to stone.
In the School of is a Tablet, on which are inscribed, in gilt letters, the names of the several persons who have been Schoolmasters there since the foundation of the School, with the time at which they entered upon and quitted their office. Opposite one of those names the Author wrote the following lines.
If Nature, for a favourite Child
In thee hath tempered so her clay,
hour thy heart runs wild, Yet never once doth go astray,
Read o'er these lines ; and then review
This tablet, that thus humbly rears
In such diversity of hue
Its history of two hundred years.
-When through this little wreck of fame,
Cypher and syllable! thine eye
Has travelled down to Matthew's name,
Pause with no common sympathy.
And, if a sleeping tear should wake,
Then be it neither checked nor stayed :
For Matthew a request I make
Which for himself he had not made.
Poor Matthew, all his frolics o'er,
Is silent as a standing pool ;
Far from the chimney's merry roar,
And murmur of the village school.
The sighs which Matthew heaved were sighs
Of one tired out with fun and madness;
The tears which came to Matthew's eyes
Were tears of light, the oil of gladness.