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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

ECCLESIASTICAL SONNETS

XVIII

PASTORAL CHARACTER

A GENIAL hearth, a hospitable board,
And a refined rusticity, belong
To the neat mansion, where, his flock among,
The learned Pastor dwells, their watchful Lord.
Though meek and patient as a sheathed sword;
Though pride's least lurking thought appear a wrong
To human kind; though peace be on his tongue,
Gentleness in his heart--can earth afford
Such genuine state, pre-eminence so free,
As when, arrayed in Christ's authority,
He from the pulpit lifts his awful hand;
Conjures, implores, and labours all he can
For re-subjecting to divine command
The stubborn spirit of rebellious man?

NOTE

3 'A genial hearth--------
And a refined rusticity, belong
To the neat mansion.'

Among the benefits arising, as Mr. Coleridge has well observed,
from a Church establishment of endowments corresponding with the
wealth of the country to which it belongs, may be reckoned as
eminently important the examples of civility and refinement which
the clergy stationed at intervals afford to the whole people. The
established clergy in many parts of England have long been, as
they continue to be, the principal bulwark against barbarism, and
the link which unites the sequestered peasantry with the
intellectual advancement of the age. Nor is it below the dignity
of the subject to observe that their taste, as acting upon rural
residences and scenery, often furnishes models which country
gentlemen, who are more at liberty to follow the caprices of
fashion, might profit by. The precincts of an old residence must
be treated by ecclesiastics with respect, both from prudence and
necessity. I remember being much pleased, some years ago, at Rose
Castle, the rural seat of the See of Carlisle, with a style of
garden and architecture which, if the place had belonged to a
wealthy layman, would no doubt have been swept away. A parsonage
house generally stands not far from the church; this proximity
imposes favourable restraints, and sometimes suggests an affecting
union of the accommodations and elegancies of life with the
outward signs of piety and mortality. With pleasure I recall to
mind a happy instance of this in the residence of an old and much-
valued Friend in Oxfordshire. The house and church stand parallel
to each other, at a small distance; a circular lawn, or rather
grass-plot, spreads between them; shrubs and trees curve from each
side of the dwelling, veiling, but not hiding, the church. From
the front of this dwelling no part of the burial-ground is seen;
but as you wind by the side of the shrubs towards the steeple-end
of the church, the eye catches a single, small, low, monumental
headstone, moss-grown, sinking into and gently inclining towards
the earth. Advance, and the churchyard, populous and gay with
glittering tombstones, opens upon the view. This humble and
beautiful parsonage called forth a tribute, for which see the
sonnet entitled "A Parsonage in Oxfordshire."