Billeder på siden

curiosity at Walsingham and Hast. hardship and adventure sat lightly ings, whom, except in large societies, and cheerfully. His set and alert she had never seen before. The poet figure suited well with his undistinwas a man of middle age, and memor. guished, but lively and shrewd counteable appearance, with a face at once nance. His conversation was in a calm, thoughtful, refined and elevated. great degree made up of common reHe was not so remarkable for the marks upon uncommon things and grace of manner which is spontane- people ; and where he had only com. ous, and the result of the whole cha. mon objects to deal with, commonest racter and structure, as for the dignity of the common were all his views and which is its origin, and, till quite ha feelings. But when he spoke of the bitual, is always self-conscious. The Brazilian forests, the Steppes of Tarchanges of his countenance were not tary, or the plains of Caffraria, the rapid, and the signs of emotion were topic gave an interest which never few and slight. His conversation was would have arisen from the speaker. ready, universal, finished ; and it Light-hearted courage, and good-hu. would have been hard for any culti. moured kindliness, had been the osvated person to see him without re- trich wings to help him smoothly over ceiving an impression of the utmost the world. By profession a sailor, height and fulness of mental accom- and still holding a lieutenant's complishment. Every body admitted that mission, he had spent the long interbe said to them all that they had a right vals of his service in travelling. He to hear, and even gave them images had been present, in the same year, at and thoughts of which they had little the levees of the American President previous conception. But almost every and the Persian Schah, and had made one also felt that between the inner the Pope laugh by an anecdote which man and them there was an insur- he had picked up a few weeks before mountable barrier, a medium of most in a Turkman tent. In every land he shining and crystalline, but most cold had made friends of all he had lived and massive ice; and from this very among, and even seemed to have formcause he had the greater power of al- ed an amicable acquaintance with the luring and fascinating, by free and beasts, and plants, and the very aspect spontaneous movements, the few, and of the different countries. He knew those chiefly women, with whom he something of natural history, and had had ever chosen to appear on terms of a collection of curiosities, some of sympathy. His poems were pre-emi. which, as they happened to fall under nently light, clear, and rounded, deli. his hand, he would carry with him for neating innumerable shapes of beauty, a week or two, wherever he might be, chosen with rare felicity from all na. and then lock them up again, in some ture and life. But they dealt with huge sea-chest, for another imprison. the painful, the austere, and the sub- ment of years. Men he knew superlime only so far as these could be sub- ficially, but on many sides, and dealt dued and brightened to the purposes with them by instinctive cheerful of graceful and serene art. Nay, even readiness and good-fellowship, rather his own existence, which had been to than from any systematic views. No him a work of art, seemed constructed man saw more clearly and moved more on the same principle. He had apparent lightly within his own limits, but no ly cut off from it whatever elements of limits could be more definite or imampler and more awful being he could passable than his, and although they not, as an artist and a worker in out- embraced the five regions of the globe ward life, thoroughly comprehend, rise and all its seas, they were still but above, and at will control. He seemed narrow. All men, however, derived frivolous only to the gravely trivial. pleasure from so clear, self-possessed, He passed for oracular and prophetic and bright a presence. He was to with many of those whose faith in the many a cordial against that melaninvisible is cherished as a sense of do choly which he had never felt, for the minion over a nobler realm than the first shadow of it drove him on new outward, rather than as the conscious- undertakings; and fresh scenes and ness of a thankful subjection.

objects were to him always delightTo him, in some things, Hastings ful. afforded a pleasant contrast. He was Of the rest of the company, Maria a man on whom twenty years of found none so noticeable as these. Some had carried their peculiar ters in habit and social position. In technical talent, whatever it might the best, what there was of genuine be, up to considerable skill; but the and large, did not come so prominentman had dwindled within the work- ly on the surface as to be discernible man. Others appeared to have by a rapid glance. merged their whole individual charac


On the day after their arrival at and tall, with a keen and honest look, Beechurst, Sir Charles Harcourt rode which gained strength and character with Maria, and two or three others, from a certain twist of the face, drawthrough the park, and into the wildest ing one eyebrow somewhat up, and of its forest scenery. The shifting similarly disposing one side of the vistas, broken openings, and deep re- firm mouth. The wife looked clean cesses, afforded an ever varying in- and kind; and in both, the ease and terest. One or other was perpetually decision of manner were remarkable calling the attention of the rest to the with which they received their landrough baronial boldness of some huge lord and his companions. Sir Charles, old stem—to the graceful outline and when out shooting, had often visited noble branchings of some mature, still them, and now asked for their only undecaying tree-to the full and splen- son, James, who had not yet come in did colourings of the foliage. An from work, but was said to be quite artist who was with them, often tried well. Maria spoke quietly and goodto mark out some view into a distinct naturedly to the woman, who answered and framed picture. Walsingham, her with sufficient intelligence, till the too, entered eagerly into this study, visitors were all surprised by the enbut often, also, spoke to Maria, in a trance of a young woman from another strain that she better sympathized room. She was a tall and handsome with, of the merely artificial technical country girl, in her common dark character of all such attempts, and dress, with her arms bared, and lookhow completely they confess our in- ing as if she had come straight from capacity to apprehend and represent the dairy. Sir Charles asked who she the unity of nature as a whole, and was, as he did not remember to have so endeavour to impress a fictitious seen her, and the farmer said she was unity on some smaller and more ma. an orphan niece, who had lately come nageable part. She was full of en. to live with them. Ann blushed all joyment, and said that a forest was, to over when she saw the unexpected her, imperishable fairy-land.

company; but even when the blush After a ride of an hour, they passed subsided, she had a deep and bright out of the enclosed park and woodland, red complexion, which looked all warm and came through a deep green flow- and living, and in her was pleasing, ery lane, on to the edge of a common though in a lady it would hardly covered with furze and heath, and saw have been admired. Her rather square at no great distance a small but very face was, however, regularly formed ; neat farm. house, with its farm-build. and her dark eyes and hair, white ings close about it, overshadowed by teeth, and look of perfect good-huthree or four old elms, and appearing mour and simplicity, made her a very the ancestral abode of quiet prosperity agreeable spectacle. Her figure was Maria was so pleased at the sight, that robust, but graceful. Every one Sir Charles proposed to visit the farm. looked at her with a smile, and Maria er, who was a tenant of his ; and they with the kindliest goodwill and admi. were all soon at the gate of the little ration. The landlord first spoke to garden in front of the house. Under her, and said he hoped she liked Burntthe guidance of their host, who knew wood. the house, they went straight into the “ Yes, sir, very much ; uncle and kitchen. Wilson, the farmer, had aunt are very good to me." come in from the fields, and was sit “And, I am sure," he said, laugh. ting in his brown arm-chair, while his ing, “ James is equally good to you." wife was busy preparing dinner. The “ Yes, sir ;" and the girl coloured man was dark complexioned, spare, and looked down.

- Well, you must not be ungrate Maria looked down and spoke in a ful to him for his kindness, you know." low voice, but very earnestly, while

Maria made an answer unnecessary she said " Surely, however little they by asking for a glass of water, which may understand their faith, it must, if the girl went for, and, before she re- they have it at all, be essentially the turned, James himself came in. He same, and produce the same fruits in was an active, well-tempered, and their hearts, as in the most intelligent lively-looking man, with less appear and expanded Christians." ance of hard strength than his father Maria blushed deeper and deeper —for he had not had so much to fight while saying this, for she felt herself against-but a face and manner that engaged unawares in a dispute with were sure signs of thorough truth and one of the most celebrated of her conaffectionateness.

temporaries. But he only answered, " That scene," said Walsingham, with a bland smile_“I fear we often after they were all again on horseback, deceive ourselves by using the same “is a complete Idyll. There are word for very different things, and people whose aspect and manner give perhaps faith' is one of them. In a one at once so satisfying an image of wise man it means knowledge, and in active cheerful life, in perfect har. a foolish one ignorance." —He then mony with their circumstances, that turned to Sir Charles, and asked him one feels, to enlarge their sphere or if he could tell them any thing of the their minds would be to spoil the history of the family. whole; and if you suppose both “I have been thinking,” he replied, changed, it becomes not an altered, “ how little we can trust appearances but a totally different thing. Those such as those which you and Miss people are, without knowing it, and Lascelles have been talking of. So so long as they do not attempt to be far from the Wilson family having had any thing other than what they are, a the quiet and happy existence you perfect representation of nature and imagined, they met with a domestic life. The mere limits of the family misfortune little more than a year ago, mark them out as distinctly as a poet which seemed likely to kill both the could desire; and, at the same time, father and mother. Besides the son they are in constant living combina- whom you saw, they had an only tion with all the world in which they daughter-a small, delicate-looking, act, and with a whole human neigh- pretty blue-eyed girl. She seemed bourhood. But if you tried to make only eighteen or nineteen, but I bethem reflect more widely, or to feel lieve was in reality of age, when she more earnestly than they do, you became acquainted with a young man would, no doubt, introduce confusion who was private tutor in a family and anxiety among them."

in the neighbourhood. After a few " If all there," said Maria, “ be as months' acquaintance she was perpeaceful as it looks, I cannot imagine suaded to go off with him. It was it to have become and continued so, said that they were secretly married ; except by means of religious faith and but from that time to this nothing has principle; and, surely, no feelings or been heard of either of them." reflections of any other kind could " Ah!" said Walsingham; “ I dare raise them so high as that.”

say he talked sentiment and specula• Probably," replied Walsingham, tion to her, and turned her head with “ their faith is a mere dutiful warm. the uncongenial element. Had she hearted acquiescence in things that fallen in love with a farmer's son who they as little understand as if their had never thought beyond his calling, Bible were still in Hebrew and Greek. no harm could have happened." And well for them that it is so. What Maria said nothing, but she thought, vain self-upbraidings and fears, and -Had she been a person of religious what vague monstrous images of fan- principle she would not have defied cied good and evil, would press on and her parents in such a matter, nor run destroy their quiet hearts and con- the risk of breaking their hearts; and found their cheerful activity, if you'religion might have enlarged her mind could awaken self-consciousness in as effectually as her lover's philosothem, and make them dream of con- phy. versions, beatitudes, and perditions !".


The afternoon of the following day crown fill up the notion of an eternal was so rainy that none of the party heaven." could leave the house, and several of “Perhaps we cannot frame any such them were assembled in the large and ideal as you speak of. I am sure I noble library. Walsingham talked to cannot. But, on the other hand, there Maria, and evidently felt much plea- is surely a want in human nature of a sure in drawing out her clear and higher life than that of mere labour strong sense for all that had lain with and pleasure. We cannot say exactly in her sphere, as well as much admira- in what forms that life, if it were all tion of her beauty. She had at first in all, would clothe itself. But it would been a little afraid of him, for genius be misery and despair to give up the is a power which, till we become fami- hope of it." liar with it, has something that dis. - I believe that whatever it really turbs, nay repels, as well as fascinates. promises of good is attainable now by But she possessed herself too deeply due cultivation, and that, too, in a real for this to last, and was too open to world which perfectly suits us, and all higher impressions not to be won which we may daily better understand, by his calm and manifold signifi. rule, and embellish.” cance,

“ I cannot even wish to subdue the Miss Constable, who was near, then longing after a blessedness for which said—“ How tiresome this rain is! I this world affords no adequate image wish one could have a world without and no congenial home.” rain !”

“I fear it is this vague longing for A man of science, who was stand that which we can do nothing to realing near, immediately began to ex. ise that renders all our efforts uncerplain, learnedly, how impossible this tain, sad, and fruitless. Believe that would be, without changing all the here, on this earth, is our true heaven, other characters of the globe as to its and we can make it so. Thus, too, atmosphere and productions.

only can we escape all the inward Walsingham turned, smiling, to struggle and convulsion between the Maria, and said _“ In truth we can inevitable Actual and a Possible never form no complete and consistent pic- to be attained.” ture of any other state of existence " No doubt you would then cut the than this, nor construct the ideal of knot; but is there not still a thread any fairer world."

which unites us to the hope, vague and « Do you think this state of exist- colourless as it is, of a nobler being in ence complete and consistent ? It a more appropriate scene ?" seems to me full of endless contradic- “ Be it so," said Walsingham, with tions."

his tranquil smile. “For my part, I “ Our business here is precisely that only hope at present that you will not of removing or reconciling these, and send me away from you to look for rounding off our life into as smooth any happier ideal position. I am and large a circle as possible.”

contented where I am." “ I cannot get over the feeling that Maria, too, smiled faintly, but said the work is here hopeless, and that we nothing. After a pause, Walsingham, can never be at peace but by trying to who had looked down as if in thought, grow out of our natural state into a went on,totally different, and far higher and “ In fact, we lose by our careless purer one."

indolence the advantages we might • But can you form any distinct enjoy, and at the same time dream of image of such a state, with all its suit those which are impossible. We will able outward accompaniments ? They not walk because it is less trouble to must, I fancy, be only fragments and dream of flying. No wonder we make shadows of what we see about us here. little of our lives compared with their One swallow, you know, does not make capacities, when so few ever think of a summer, nor will one picture of an what they are capable. The world angel with white wings and a diamond we live in is to most of us so mean, dim, and narrow, that it would seem Asiatic horsemen with an old hermit, as if our sight would serve us for no who has lived as a devotee perhaps better purpose than the blind man's for sixty or seventy years, and thinks string and dog, namely, to keep us the first European he sees must be out of ponds and ditches."

some spirit, whom he has met with beThis was more than is usually said fore in a previous state of existence ; at a breath in society, but Walsing when perhaps, too, the next hour you ham spoke so gracefully, and his fame have to fight your way among a troop stood so high, that all were pleased to of Kurds, through an ambush of robhear him. The only person who bers, and must ride for twenty-four seemed much surprised was Miss Har hours without stopping, and with your court, who looked up, and exclaim- hand on your pistol, if you would esed

cape alive." « Dear me! what strange ideas! Walsingham said, quietlyI am sure they never would have “ You mentioned that one learns struck me."

something in this way. Pray, what Hastings had been listening for does one learn?” some minutes to the conversation, “Oh, no school-learning, perhaps, which he now took up thus :-

but one gets new notions and images “ For my part, I am of Miss Las. into one's head. You know the world celles's mind. I confess I think one better, and mankind, and what you always feels the want of a change can yourself endure and do." after a few weeks' residence in one “ Perhaps all this may be learned place; and I suppose, when I have more accurately and deeply in the seen all the islands of the Pacific-by midst of our ordinary life, if we will the way, I mean to go there next only keep our eyes open, and be al. week - I shall want to embark for ways striving and shaping. And as one of the planets, or take a flight to to endurance, a life of action among the moon."

men will always bring with it suffi" I hope," said one of the younger cient trial-most, perhaps, to the mind men,“if you imitate Astolpho in that, where least to the muscles." you will not, at least, bring back any o Ah, so be it for those who like of the foolish brains that are kept it. I am never so cheerful and so there. We have enough here." much at ease as when there is danger

~ Perhaps,” said Sir Charles, “ you in the way, and enterprise and novelty would at last be tired there, and wish to lead me on. It does not seem worth yourself once more in England. Now, while to take all the pains you speak I am content to begin by staying of about so commonplace an existence here."

as ours is here." Hastings answered

“ Surely no existence is common“I know no country I tire of so place to him who lives with uncom, soon as England. All the bold fresh mon aims. The meanest work car. character of men is worn away by ried on with insight and hope, with a conventional refinement, and life is feeling of the Beautiful, and with resmothered under a heap of comforts. ference to the Whole, of which we One learns something by lying in wait and it are parts, becomes large and among the rocks, with a rifle in one important. Sophocles writing his trahand, and an Indian chief as compa- gedy, and the flame, by the light of nion, when a herd of a thousand bisons which he saw to write, each was rush over the plain to the banks of working in its vocation. But if the some great river, and beast after beast, lamp would flare about and set first squadron after squadron, plunge with the tragedy on fire, and then the a crash, and swim to fresh pastures; house, it had better been extinguishor when one finds, in the wide soli. ed at first. All that is essential in tude, the hut of some Indian girl, romance lies diffused throughout or. perhaps the last survivor of her tribe, dinary life, which, for those who live who has escaped from the massacre, worthily, culminates to creative art. and lived for a year alone on the ani. A dew-drop is water as fresh as Hipmals she has trapped, singing, while pocrene or Niagara." she sews their skins into clothes, some “ It is no amusement to me to play melancholy song of the old days; or at taking brass counters for gold.” when one falls in at some haunt of " Ay, but what if we could turn

« ForrigeFortsæt »