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Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness;
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
“And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
While throng'd the citizens with terror dumb,
“And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
grow In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living valor, rolling on the foe, And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and
“Last noon beheld them full of lusty life, Last eve in beauty's circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
Which her own clay shall cover, heap'd and pent, Rider and horse,-friend, foe,-in one red burial
There is in man an innate and inextinguishable love of nature. There is a nice adaptation of nature to the soul, and of the soul to nature. There is in the soul an exquisite sensibility to what is beautiful and sublime in the material universe. It sheds upon us a thousand nameless influences when we are least aware. They are ever streaming in upon the soul through the windows of the senses, and sometimes pour in such a flood of delight, that the fountains of joy overflow within us. From our earliest years there is a deep pleasure in looking upon this magnificent world. The opening of the spring, the singing of birds, the flowers of summer, the blushes of the morning, a calm bright day, the pillared thundercloud, the farewell rays of the setting sun, the winding stream, the distant mountain, the open sea,
the city's hum, the forest's solitude, all these objects and others innumerable, have the power to excite within us emotions of the purest and most spiritual pleasure.
These pleasures decrease not with lapse of years, nor with growing familiarity. They rather increase with time. Nature is our inseparable companion, and her presence is the more dear to us from the memory of the pleasures she has already conferred upon us. Enjoying a perpetual youth, no wrinkle ever stealing upon her brow, and no paleness ever invading her bloom, she is forever lovely, and even when our bodies wax old and decay, our souls, which share her own immortality, still continue to love her with all the fervor of our freshest years.
This love of nature is a perennial fountain of enjoyment. Next to religion and friendship it has the greatest power over us to soothe our feelings in the hour of calamity. When our hearts are wrung with grief, and hope is dead within us, when life itself seems almost insupportable, a solitary walk among the green fields and under the sublime arch of heaven, has the power to tranquillize our feelings when scarce any thing else could
afford us relief. Whatever the tumults which rend our bosoms, the face of nature is forever serene, and we feel that her unfading beauty is the smile of God. In it we learn that trouble and disquiet are of our little sphere, of time, and of change, tranquillity and peace are of the universe, of eternity.
Poets differ from other men in their greater susceptibility to the beauties of nature more than in any thing else. Byron in his boyhood would lie for hours motionless and
apparently entranced upon a tombstone which commanded an extensive and beautiful prospect. And no one can ever have read the exquisite discription of Paradise in Milton's great poem, without being impressed with the conviction, that he, who in blindness could give such gorgeous pictures of the glories of the external world, must have had a soul most tenderly alive to the beautiful in nature before that awful calamity befel him, which he has so pathetically lamented.
“Thus with the
year Seasons return, but not to me returns Day, or the sweet approach of ev'n or morn, Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose, Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine; But cloud instead, and ever-during dark.”
As the love of nature is universal, so the pictures of it, which the poet spreads before the imagination, are universally pleasing. They are pleasing, because as works of art, in the same manner as painting and statuary, they present an image more or less perfect, of that which we are formed to love and admire. This pleasure is increased by the additional one of sympathy with the feeling, which the true poet always infuses into his descriptions. It is by appealing to this universal love of nature, that Thompson's Seasons, a work whose poetic merit is by no means high, has been one of the most popular books in the language.
In Milton, as we have seen, this love of nature amounted to a passion. It is strikingly exhibited in some of his lighter pieces, in his L'Allegro for instance, which, in the language of an able critic, differs from other poems as the otto of roses differs from the mere essence. In that little poem, his description of morning, for tranquil and sparkling beauty, has never been surpassed.
"To hear the lark begin his flight,