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dwellings shrunk back into their original forms, and I was left alone in the grave-yard, with nought but the silent stones and the whispering trees around me.
The sun had long been down—a few of the largest stars were timidly beginning to shine, the bats had left their lurking places, my cheek was wet with the dew, and I was chilled by the breath of evening. I arose, and returned to the inn.
Rural Life in England.—Irving. In rural occupation, there is nothing mean and debasing, It leads a man forth among scenes of natural grandeur and beauty; it leaves him to the workings of his own mind, operated upon by the purest and most elevating of external influences. Such a man may be simple and rough, but he cannot be vulgar.
The man of refinement, therefore, finds nothing revolting in an intercourse with the lower orders in rural life, as he does when he casually mingles with the lower orders of cities. He lays aside his distance and reserve, and is glad to waive the distinctions of rank, and to enter into the honest, heart-felt enjoyments of common life.
Indeed, the very amusements of the country bring men more and more together; and the sound of hound and horn blend all feelings into harmony. I believe this is one great reason why the nobility and gentry are more popular among the inferior orders in England, than they are in any other country; and why the latter have endured so many excessive pressures and extremities, without repining more generally at the unequal distribution of fortune and privilege.
To this mingling of cultivated and rustic society, may also be attributed the rural feeling that runs through British literature; the frequent use of illustrations from rural life; those incomparable descriptions of Nature, that abound in the British poets—that have continued down from the Flower and the Leaf' of Chaucer, and have brought into our closets all the freshness and fragrance of the dewy landscape.
The pastoral writers of other countries appear as if they had paid Nature an occasional visit, and become acquaint
ed with her general charms; but the British poets have lived and revelled with her—they have wooed her in her most secret haunts—they have watched her minutest capri
A spray could not tremble in the breeze-a leaf could not rustle to the ground--a diamond drop could not patter in the stream—a fragrance could not exhale from the humble violet, nor a daisy unfold its crimson tints to the morning, but it has been noticed by these impassioned and delicate observers, and wrought up into some beautiful morality.
The effect of this devotion of elegant minds to rural occupations, has been wonderful on the face of the country. A great part of the island is rather level, and would be monotonous, were it not for the charms of culture; but it is studded and gemmed, as it were, with castles and palaces, and embroidered with parks and gardens. It does not abound in grand and sublime prospects, but rather in little home scenes of rural repose and sheltered quiet.
Every antique farm-house and moss-grown cottage is a picture; and as the roads are continually winding, and the view is shut in by groves and hedges, the eye is delighted by a continual succession of small landscapes of captivating loveliness. The great charm, however, of English scenery, is the moral feeling that seems to pervade it. It is associated in the mind with ideas of order, of quiet, of sober well-established principles, of hoary usage and reverend custom.
Every thing seems to be the growth of ages of regular and peaceful existence. The old church, of remote architecture, with its low massive portal; its gothic tower; its windows, rich with tracery and painted glass, in scrupulous preservation-its stately monuments of warriors and worthies of the olden time, ancestors of the present lords of the soil—its tombstones, recording successive generations of sturdy yeomanry, whose progeny still plough the same fields, and kneel at the same altar—the parsonage, a quaint irregular pile, partly antiquated, but repaired and altered in the tastes of various ages and occupants—the stile and footpath leading from the church-yard, across pleasant fields, and along shady hedge-rows, according to an immemorable right of way--the neighboring village, with its venerable cottages, its public green, sheltered by trees, under which the forefathers of the present race have sported—the antique family mansion, standing apart in some little rural domain, but
looking down with a protecting air on the surrounding scene—all these common features of English landscape evince a calm and settled security, a hereditary transmission of home-bred virtues and local attachments, that speak deeply and touchingly for the moral character of the nation.
It is a pleasing sight, of a Sunday morning, when the bell is sending its sober melody across the quiet fields, to behold the peasantry in their best finery, with ruddy faces, and modest cheerfulness, thronging tranquilly along the green lanes to church; but it is still more pleasing to see them in the evenings, gathering about their cottage doors, and appearing to exult in the humble comforts and embellishments which their own hands have spread around them
It is this sweet home feeling, this settled repose of affec tion in the domestic scene, that is, after all, the parent of the steadiest virtues and purest enjoyments; and I cannot close these desultory remarks better, than by quoting the words of a modern English poet, who has depicted it with remarkable felicity.
Through each gradation, from the castled hall,
The return of May again brings over us a living sense of the loveliness and delightfulness of flowers. Of all the minor creations of God they seem to be most completely the effusions of his love of beauty, grace and joy. Of all
the natural objects which surround us they are the least connected with our absolute necessities.
Vegetation might proceed, the earth might be clothed with a sober green; all the processes of fructification might be perfected, without being attended by the glory with which the flower is crowned; but beauty and fragrance are poured abroad over the earth in blossoms of endless varieties, radiant evidences of the boundless benevolence of the Deity. They are made solely to gladden the heart of man, for a light to his eyes, for a living inspiration of grace to his spirit, for a perpetual admiration. And accordingly, they seize on our affections the first moment that we behold them.
With what eagerness do very infants grasp at flowers! As they become older they would live forever amongst them. They bound about in the flowery meadows like young fawns; they gather all they come near; they collect heaps; they sit among them, and sort them, and sing over them, and caress them, till they perish in their grasp. We see them coming wearily into the towns and villages loaded with posies half as large as themselves. We trace them in shady lanes, in the grass of far-off fields, by the treasures they have gathered and have left behind, lured on by others still brighter.
As they grow up to maturity, they assume, in their eyes, new characters and beauties. Then they are strewn around them, the poetry of the earth. They become invested by a multitude of associations with innumerable spells of power over the human heart; they are to us memorials of the joys, sorrows, hopes, and triumphs of our forefathers; they are, to all ations, the emblems of youth. in its loveliness and purity.
The ancient Greeks, whose souls preeminently sympathized with the spirit of grace and beauty in every thing, were enthusiastic in their love, and lavish in their use of flowers. They scattered them in the porticoes of their temples, they were offered on the altars of some of their deities; they were strewed in the conqueror's path; on all occasions of festivity and rejoicing they were strewn about, or worn in garlands.
Something of the same spirit seems to have prevailed amongst the Hebrews. Let us fill ourselves,' says Solomon, with “costly wine and ointments; and let no flower of the spring pass by us. Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they be withered.' But amongst that solemn
and poetical people, they were commonly regarded in another and higher sense, they were the favorite symbols of the beauty and the fragility of life. Man is compared to the flower of the field, and it is added, the grass withereth, the flower fadeth.'
But of all the poetry ever drawn from flowers, none is so beautiful, none is so sublime, none is so imbued with that very spirit in which they were made as that of Christ. * And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not neither do they spin, and yet, I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith!'
The sentiment built upon this, entire dependance on the goodness of the Creator, is one of the lights of our existence, and could only have been uttered by Christ; but we have here also the expression of the very spirit of beauty in which flowers were created; a spirit so boundless and overflowing, that it delights to enliven and adorn with these luxuriant creatures of sunshine the solitary places of the earth; to scatter them by myriads over the very desert where no man is; on the wilderness where there is no man;' sending rain, 'to satisfy the desolate and waste ground, and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth.' In our confined notions, we are often led' to wonder why
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air; why beauty, and flowers, and fruit, should be scattered so exuberantly where there are none to enjoy them. But the thoughts of the Almighty are not as our thoughts. He sees them; he doubtlessly delights to behold the beauty of his handiworks, and rejoices in that tide of glory which he has caused to flow wide through the universe.
We know not, either, what spiritual eyes besides may behold them; for pleasant is the belief, that
Myriads of spiritual creatures walk the earth. And how often does the gladness of uninhabited lands refresh the heart of the solitary traveller! When the distant and sea-tired voyager suddenly descries the blue mountaintops, and the lofty crest of the palm-tree, and makes some