BETA

A Real Vision.

Tis strange that people now-a-days persist1
In bringing up their offspring mere machines ;2
Pruned vegetables—flowers of formal cut ;3
A class of nature wholly by itself ;4
And not as relatives of heaven and hell,5
And all the mighty energies between,6
A link of God’s interminable chain7
Connecting all existence.—" Please you, sir,8
Talk not of spirits here—It is our rule9
That neither ghost nor fairy, goblin stern,10
Portentous light, wraith, death-watch, warning voice,11
Or aught impalpable to human sense,12
Shall to our family ever once be named.”13
Good people ! some enthusiasts would despise,14
But I sincerely pity you ! This mode15
May make them gentle, elegant, nay, good,16
As Bramah makes his pens with a machine,)17
But never great.—Lord, what is man, whom thou18
Mad’st next unto the angels, thus instructed,19
Thus qualified ? A Cockney—a mere grub !20
O, I would teach their little hearts to quake,21
And harrow up their energies of soul22
Proportionate to their allied compeers,23
And sphere of action ! I would have them claim24
Connexion with the worm, the bat, the mole,25
The hedgehog’s tottering brood, all helpless things,26
To twang the chords of pity on the heart.27
Then, as a shred of elemental life,28
Point them the eyry o’er the dizzy cliff29
With eaglets young to count their brotherhood ;30
Then would I tell them of the fallen fiends31
That claim’d their fellowship. The path that led32
Where they with angels might communicate,33
Holding high intercourse with God himself34
Through all of his creation.—But enough.35
Thus was I rear’d, and glory in the rule ;36
And had I not, the scene I here describe37
Had ne’er been witness’d, or reveal’d to you.38
Some forty years agone, and haply more,39
One memorable dark autumnal day40
I lay upon a mountain, on the brink41
Of that unmoulded hideous precipice42
That walls the western side of dark Loch Skene.43
The wild was calm as death, and o’er it hung44
A lurid curtain of portentous hue,45
Dreadful to look upon. There was no mist,46
Yet every mountain that uprear’d its head47
Abrupt and sheer around that dreary scene,48
Seem’d at a weary distance, hardly seen.49
The tremulous bleat that casually was heard,50
Startled the ear as something in the air,51
It was so nigh, while yet the steep from whence52
The voice proceeded seem’d so far away.53
Tlook’d up to the heavens—all was dark,54
A murky blue ; with deathlike masses speck’d,55
That crept athwart its face like shrouded ghosts,56
Or demons crawling from the wrath behind.57
I look’d down to the lake for some reprieve58
Of dread, but there the scene was darker still,59
And phantoms journey’d on a heaven below.60
Nature seem’d in her travail-throes, about,61
Some elemental monster to produce,62
That might set all her energies on flame,63
And ruling principles at roaring war.64
A poor secluded and bewilder’d boy,65
Alone amid this dismal seene I kneel’d,66
Leaning my brow against the crested rock67
That frown’d far o’er my head, and gave myself68
To my great Maker’s charge in simple guise ;69
But O how fervent !  I remember well !70
Could I but feel such holy ardour now !71
My heart was strengthen’d, and I felt myself72
Above the terrors of the rolling storm,73
The bursting thunder, or the sheeted flame ;74
An energy above the flocks, the ravens,75
The foxes, and the eagle’s haughty brood,76
The only tenants of that land sublime.77
But all at once my faithful dog began,78
With short and fitful growl, to manifest79
Strange terror. The old raven sped away,80
And left her young. The eagle took the cloud,81
And yell’d her terror at the gates of heaven.82
From these foreboding omens, well I knew83
Some beings of the spiritual world84
Were nigh at hand. I cast my eyes around,85
And straight below my feet, on a green shelve86
Between me and the dark blue lake, I saw87
A female form rise slowly from the earth.88
It was a mist—a vapour—a pale shred ;89
I wot not how composed, but yet it bore90
Resemblance all complete to one I knew.91
There was no feature wanting—not a line92
Of that mild countenance. No attitude93
Was lacking of the venerable form94
It represented. With a solemn look95
And supplicating earnestness, it stretch’d96
Its hands tow’rd me. Then I remember’d well97
Of that same attitude when late she press’d98
A solemn task on me, which I refused,99
Though urged to it with tears. My very soul100
Thril’d at the strange appeal in such a scene.101
Yet it was something. The Almighty knows102
Of what it was composed, for I know not ;103
But the dumb creatures saw it with dismay.104
Two lambs were near it, nigher far than I.105
I saw them gaze at it, and still their looks106
Grew more and more intense ; and then they turn’d107
Their innocent, and stupid faces round,108
And, stating at each other, tried to read109
The sentiments of fear ’ gendering within,110
Then stretch’d their sapient noses to discern111
If savour of humanity was there,112
Tramp’d with the foot, and whistled through the nose,113
Then fled with hesitating starts away.114
But, what alarm’d me most, my faithful dog115
Lay in extremity, with closed eyes,116
And trembling every limb. Sometimes he oped117
A dull and drumly eye towards the wraith,118
But shut it close again and inly groan’d.119
The spectre stretch’d itself upon the sward,120
And roll’d and writhed as if in agony,121
Then turn’d its face to me ; and then I knew122
That my beloved and venerable friend123
Was in the throes of death. I saw the grasp124
Convulsive at the sward—the hand outstretch’d125
For the last kindly pressure—the glazed eye—126
The parched lip—the long remitted throbs—127
And the last gasp, the last but vain endeavour 128
The lingering, longing spirit to retain !129
I saw some forms around the couch of death,130
To me well known, though indistinctly seen ;131
But at that moment a celestial ray,132
Like sunbeam from an opening of the cloud,133
Beam’d on the vision, melting it away,—134
Then all grew dark and gloomy as before.135
But she was gone ! my faithful monitress136
Departed then unto a better world.137
Yet have I e’er forgot her? E’er forgot138
That last behest, so often urged before ?139
No !  When I do—no curses will I crave140
On my own head. But had I not resolved141
That last behest to cherish in my heart,142
And kept that resolution—God of life !143
What had I been ere now? A thing of scorn—144
A blot on nature’s cheek—a being lost—145
Whom shepherds long with pity would have named,146
To all the injurious world beside unknown.147