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Neither should I pass by Cowley, who only wished that, before he died, he might possess a small house and a large garden in the country, where he might live and “ love his old contemporary trees." He exclaims,
“ Oh, fountains ! when in you shall I
Myself, eased of unpeaceful thoughts, espy ?
In deserts solitude.”
Herrick also has painted the pleasures of the country in glowing language. His poetry teems with flowers, and odours, and dews, and clear waters, and soft airs and sounds, and bright skies, and woodland solitudes, and moonlit bowers. He only wished his Phillis to accompany him into the country, where all the delights that his rich imagination could produce awaited her ;-where, he says,
“ The soft sweet moss shall be thy bed,
With crawling woodbine overspread;
Cowper shunned the town, in which the works of man obscured those of his Maker, and sighed for mountain, river, forest, and field; in which he was at last indulged more than
falls to the lot of bards in modern days. He loved to hear the roar of
Betrays the secret of their silent course.” Byron, too, drank deeply at the fountain of Nature, and revelled in all her beauties. He inhaled the living fragrance of flowers ; and the drip of the oar or the song of the grasshopper fell with music upon his ear. He loved to listen to the voice of birds breaking out for a moment intó song, or the floating whispers with which his fancy filled the hills. The starlight dews stole not so noiselessly into the bosoms of the flowers, but that he heard their silvery feet descend. He read in the stars the poetry of heaven; and not a sunbeam, or breath of air, or a wandering leaf, passed by him unobserved. He trod the still caves and forests, the coverts of old trees, whose feet the waters kissed with murmurs. He loved
“ The populous solitude of bees and birds,
And fairy-form’d and many-colour'd things,
The swiftest thought of beauty.” From these he gathered his magic hues, and wove them into forms of undying loveliness.
I pass over many an immortal name whose works will be read with a greedy delight when long years have glided away, and even the place that gave them birth is forgotten :-Scott, , whose descriptions will live while heath, and lake, and mountain remain ; Wordsworth, who has caught the spirit of Nature, and made it subservient to his wishes, bearing him at will like a steed that owns its master; Shelley, who has thrown a spell over solitude, and made the wilderness a garden of beauty ; Keats, who soared on eagle-pinions over the earth, and stooped to pick up its beauties at pleasure ; Wilson, who bounds like a wild deer through wood and over mountain, and sports upon the solitude of the lake with all the freedom of the bird that was reared among its sedges; and Leigh Hunt, who has held communion with the green lea and made love to the blushing flowers. Many a name yet lingers on my tongue, whose works have brought the freshness of forests to my hearth, and the smell of old hills to my pillow ;-who have borne me to the margin of cool streams, and thrown over my imagination the rustling of green branches.
Alas! many of those good old country customs which they have celebrated are fast decaying! Merry Christmas, with all its morrice-dances, and quaint and innocent pastimes, only exists in a few retired villages. The May-pole only rears its honoured head in a few out-of-the-way places, where modern fashions have not yet penetrated. Kiss-in-the-ring, and all those outward signs of mirth and love-making, when love was not ashamed of the blessed daylight, have almost all vanished. The joyous shout of harvest-home has nearly died away. The woods in which we wandered in little groups a-nutting are now forbidden ground. Oh, England ! my own dear country, thou art wiser now than of yore, but art thou happier ? Where is the merriment that echoed over thy hills in the days when bells rang merrily and bonfires blazed ? Thy wide halls and open doors are narrowed now! The huge ox no longer roasts before the piled faggots! The gurgle of thy berry-brown ale has dribbled
down to potions of poisoning gin! O for the linsey-Woolsey garments of our grandmothers, and the coarse broadcloth that our forefathers wore !- the honesty of their hearts, and the bluff John Bullism of their manners, when poverty and politics were less known !
But, however man may change, Nature is still the same. Spring ceases not to put forth its sweet-smelling flowers, and summer yet wears its green drapery of leaves: the autumn comes in crowned with plenty, still bending beneath its load of corn and fruit; and winter, in spite of its storms, renders more cheerful the comforts of our fireside. I have often envied the smock-frocked peasant, as I have seen him drive his team from the metropolis, when I have thought that in a few hours he would be in the midst of pleasant farms and delightful villages, listening to the song of birds and gazing upon the beauty of flowers, while the dull dead walls, and narrow streets, with all their din of voices and rattling chariots, have been all that was left for us to gaze upon or hear.
“ For the soft quiet hamlet but seems made
For those who their mortality have felt,
Developing the mountains, leaves, and flowers,
JANUARY is considered the severest month of the year,
the season of storm and darkness, the dreary depth of winter. Still there is a bright hope thrown around this gloominess in the lengthening of the days: we see the sun rise earlier in the morning, and behold him lingering longer in the sky at evening, and feel assured that we are verging upon the threshold of spring. A walk in the country in frosty wea