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though I recognised it with intense interest, it appeared lessened in size; it was an object I loved, but as a tree it no longer attracted wonder at its dimensions. During my absence, I had travelled in a forest of much larger trees, and the pleasure and well-defined image in my mind's eye, which I owed to the singleness of this object, I never again experienced in observing another.
Can I ever forget the sunny side of the wood, where I used to linger away my holidays among the falling leaves of the trees in autumn? I can recall the very smell of the sere foliage to recollection; and the sound of the dashing water is even now in my ear. The rustling of the boughs, the sparkling of the stream, the gnarled trunks of the old oaks around, long since levelled by the axe, left impressions to be obliterated only by death. The pleasure I then felt was undefinable; but I was satisfied to enjoy, without caring whence my enjoyment arose.
The old churchyard and its yew trees, where I sacrilegiously enjoyed my pastimes among the dead,—and the ivied tower, the belfry of which I frequently ascended, and wondered at the skill which could form such ponderous masses as the bells, and lift them so high,—these were objects that, on Sundays particularly, often filled my mind, upon viewing them, with a sensation that cannot be put into language.
It was not joy, but a soothing, tranquil delight, that made me forget, for an instant, that I had any desire in the world unsatisfied. I have often thought since, that this state of mind must have approached pretty closely to happiness. As we passed the churchway path to the old Gothic porch on Sundays, I used to spell the inscriptions on the tombs, and wonder at the length of a life that exceeded sixty or seventy years; for days then passed more slowly than weeks pass now.
I visited, the other day, the school-room where I had once been the drudge of a system of learning, the end of which I could not understand, and where, as was then the fashion, every method taken seemed intended to disgust the scholar with those studies he should be taught to love. I looked again at my old seat; but my youthful recollections of the worse than eastern slavery I there endured, made me regard what I saw with a feeling of peculiar distaste.
It was not thus with the places I visited during the short space of cessation from task and toil that the week allowed. The meadow, where, in true gaiety of heart, I had leaped, and raced, and played,—this recalled the contentedness of
mind and the overflowing tide of delight I once experienced, when, climbing the stile which led into it, I left behind me the book and the task, How the sunshine of the youthful breast burst forth upon me, and the gushing spirit of unreined and innocent exhilaration braced every fibre, and rushed through every vein!
The sun has never shone so brilliantly since. How fragrant were the flowers! How deep the azure of the sky! How vivid were the hues of nature! How intense the shortlived sensations of pain and pleasure! How generous were all impulses! How confiding, open, and upright, all actions!
Inhumanity to the distressed, and insolence to the fallen,' those besetting sins of manhood, how utterly strangers to the heart! How little of sordid interests, and how much of intrepid honesty, was then displayed!
The sensations peculiar to youth, being the result of impulse rather than reflection, have the advantage over those of manhood, however the pride of reason may give the latter the superiority. In manhood there is always a burden of thought bearing on the wheels of enjoyment. In manhood, too, we have the misfortune of seeing the wrecks of early associations scattered everywhere around us. Youth can see nothing of this. It can take no review of antecedent pleasures or pains, that become such a source of melancholy emotion in mature years.
It has never sauntered through the rooms of a building, and recalled early days spent under its roof.
I remember my feelings on an occasion of this sort, when I was like a traveller on the plain of Babylon, wondering where all that had once been to me so great and mighty then was; in what gulf the sounds of merriment, that once reverberated from the walls; the master, the domestic, the aged, and the young, had disappeared. Our early recollections are pleasing to us, because they look not on the morrow. Alas! what did that morrow leave, when it had become merged in the past !
I have lately traversed the village in which I was born, without discovering a face that I knew. Houses have been demolished, fronts altered, tenements built, trees rooted up, and alterations effected, that make me feel a stranger amid the home of my fathers. The old-fashioned and roomy house, where my infant years had been watched by parental affection, had been long uninhabited; it was in decay: the storm beat through its fractured windows, and it was
partly roofless. The garden, and its old elms,—the scene
Amid thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall!
The American in England.-IRVING.
ENGLAND is as classic ground to an American, as Italy is to an Englishman; and old London teems with as much historical association as mighty Rome.
But what more especially attracts his notice, are those peculiarities which distinguish an old country, and an old state of society, from a new one. I have never yet grown familiar enough with the crumbling monuments of past ages, to blunt the intense interest with which I at first beheld them.
Accustomed always to scenes where history was, in a manner, in anticipation; where every thing in art was new and progressive, and pointed to the future rather than to the past; where, in short, the works of man gave no ideas but those of young existence, and prospective improvement; there was something inexpressibly touching in the sight of enormous piles of architecture, gray with antiquity, and sinking to decay.
I cannot describe the mute but deep-felt enthusiasm, with which I have contemplated a vast monastic ruin, like Tintern Abbey, buried in the bosom of a genial valley, and shut up from the world, as though it had existed merely for
itself; or a warrior pile, like Conway Castle, standing in stern loneliness on its rocky height, a mere hollow, yet threatening phantom of departed power. They spread a grand, a melancholy, and, to me, an unusual charm over the landscape. I for the first time beheld signs of national old age, and empire's decay, and proofs of the transient and perishing glories of art, amidst the ever-springing and reviving fertility of nature.
But, in fact, to me every thing was full of matter: the footsteps of history were every where to be traced; and poetry had breathed over and sanctified the land. I experienced the delightful freshness of feeling of a child, to whom every thing is new. I pictured to myself a set of inhabitants, and a mode of life, for every habitation that I saw; from the aristocratical mansion, amidst the lordly repose of stately groves and solitary parks, to the straw-thatched cottage, with its scanty garden, and its cherished woodbine.
I thought I never could be sated with the sweetness and freshness of a country, so completely carpeted with verdure; where every air breathed of the balmy pasture, and the honey-suckled hedge. I was continually coming upon some little document of poetry, in the blossomed hawthorn, the daisy, the cowslip, the primrose, or some other simple object, that has received a supernatural value from the muse. The first time that I heard the song of the nightingale, I was intoxicated more by the delicious crowd of remembered associations, than by the melody of its notes; and I shall never forget the thrill of ecstasy with which I first saw the lark rise, almost from beneath my feet, and wing its mercurial flight up to the morning sky.
The Poetry of Ossian.-Howitt. Ossian is a book to be read amid the gloomy silence, or the loud, gusty winds of November. There is an ancient dwelling, in a sylvan and 'out of the world' part of the country, which I frequent about as often as there are months in
In the summer it is surrounded by out-door delights, woods, green fields, sweet songs, and all the pleasantnesses of flowers, breezes, and sunshine, which tempt me to loiter among them; but in the autumnal and wintry
months, I habitually cast my eyes upon a small recess, filled with books, and, amongst them, upon Ossian; and if I remember
hours of peculiar enjoyment, I do those thus occupied.
The days and feelings of my boyhood are at once brought back again. I connect the scenes and the heroes of the • Voice of Cona’in some mysterious manner, with the memory of those with whom I was wont to admire them; and am snatched from a world of cold calculation and selfishness, in which we all too willingly participate, to one of glory and generosity.
We are often asked wherein consists the peculiar charm of Ossian.
It is in the graceful delicacy and refined affection of his female characters; the reckless bravery, lofty sentiment, and generous warmth of his. warriors, and the wildness of the scenery in which they dwell. We are delighted to find his lovely and noble beings on their rude heaths, or in their rude halls, exhibiting a poetical refinement of mind, far transcending the tone of modern society, with all the beautiful set-off of the simplicity of ancient manners.
And then, what a pathos is in their sorrows. The harp of Ossian is truly a
harp of sorrow.' It breathes perpetually of melancholy tenderness. It is the voice of age lamenting over departed glory; over beauty and strength cut down in their prime; and it comes to us from the dimness of antiquity, and from a land of hills and woods, of mists and meteors,-from the heath of mossy and gray stones, the roaring of mountain-streams, the blasted tree, the withered leaves, and the thistle's beard, that flies on the wind of autumn.
Am I told that it is merely a pleasant, modern fiction? What then? If so, it is one of the pleasantest fictions that ever were wrought; and the man who made, it one of the happiest geniuses. For years did he toil to acquire the art and the name of a poet; but in vain. His conceptions were meagre; his style monotonous and common-place; and through the multitude of verses which he has left, we look in vain for aught which might justify the manufacture of them; but, in happy hour, he burst at once into a most original style of poetry-into a language which shows not symptoms of feeling, but melts and glows with it into poetic imagery; which is not scattered sparingly and painfully, but with a full, a free, and an unwearied hand.
If this be true, it is wonderful; but I shall choose not to