« AnteriorContinuar »
“ winter is over and gone." As we roamed, on a holiday, over the wide pastoral moors, to angle in the lochs and pools, unless the day were very cloudy, the song of some lark or other was still warbling alott, and made a part of our happiness. The creature could not have been more joyful in the skies, than we were on the greensward. We, too, had our wings, and flew through our holiday. Thou soul of glee! who still leddest our flight in all our pastimes !_bold, bright, and beautiful child of Erin !--- for many and many a long, long year hast thou been mingled with the dust! Dead and gone, as if they had never been, all the captivations of thy voice, eye, laugh, motion, and hand, open as day to “ melting charity !”—He, too, the grave and thoughtful English boy, whose exquisite scholar. ship we all so enthusiastically admired, without one single particle of hopeless envy,—and who accompanied us on all our wildest expeditions, rather from affection to his playmates than any love of their sports,-he who, timid and unadventurous as he seemed to be, yet rescued little Marian of the Brae from a drowning death, when so many grown up men stood aloof in selfish fear,—gone, too, for ever art thou, my beloved Edward Harrington ! and, after a few brilliant years in the oriental clime,
"on Hongley's banks afar, Looks down on thy lone tomb the evening star."
Methinks we hear the sw song o'the Gray LINTIE,” per. haps the darling bird of Scotland. None other is more tenderly sung of in our old ballads. When the simple and fervent love-poets of our pastoral times first applied to the maiden the words 66 my bonnie burdie,” they must have been thinking of the gray lintie-its plumage ungaudy and soberly pure—its shape elegant, yet unobtrusiveand its song various without any effort—now rich, gay, sprightly, but never rude or riotous-now tender, almost mournful, but never gloomy or desponding. So, too, are all its habits endearing and delightful. It is social, yet not averse to solitude, singing osten in groups, and as often by itself in the furze-brake, or on the briary knoll. You often find the lintie's nest in the most solitary places-in
some small self-sown clump of trees by the brink of a wild hill-stream, or on the tangled edge of a forest; and just as often you find it in the hedgerow of the cottage garden, or in a bower within, or even in an old gooseberry bush that has grown into a sort of tree.
One wild and beautiful place we well remember-ay, the very bush in which we first found a gray linnet's nest-for, in our native parish, from some cause or other, it was rather a rarish bird. That far-away day is as distinct as the present now. Imagine, friend, first, a little well surrounded with wild cresses on the moor, something like a rivulet flows from it, or rather you see a deep tinge of verdure, the line of which, you believe, must be produced by the oozing moisture-you follow it, by and by there is a descent palpable to your feet-then you find yourself between low broomy knolls, that, heightening every step, become ere long banks, and braes, and hills. You are surprised now to see a stream, and look round for its source-there seem now to be a hundred small sources in fissures, and springs on every side-you hear the murmurs of its course over beds of sand and gravel-and hark, a waterfall! A tree or two begins to shake its tresses on the horizon-a birch or a rowan. You get ready your angle-and by the time you have panniered three dozen, you are at a wooden bridge-you fish the pool above it with the delicate dexterity of a Boaz, capture the monarch of the flood, and on listing your eyes from his starry side as he gasps his last on the silvery shore, you behold a cot. tage, at one gable end an ash, at the other a sycamore, and standing perhaps at the lonely door, a maiden far more beautiful than any angel.
This is the age of confessions; and why, therefore, may we not make a confession of first love? I had finished my sixteenth year, I was almost as tall as I am now,--almost as tall! Yes, yes,- for my figure was then straight as an arrow, and almost like an arrow in its flight. I had given over bird-nesting,--but I had not ceased to visit the dell where first I found the gray lintie's brood. Tale-writers are told by critics to remember that the young shepherdesses of Scotland are not beautisul as the fictions of a poet's dream. But she was beautiful beyond poetry. She was
so then, when passion and imagination were young,—and her image, her undying, unfading image, is so now, when passion and imagination are old, and when from eye and soul have disappeared much of the beauty and glory both of nature and life. I loved her from the first moment that our eyes met,--and I see their light at this moment, the same sott, bright, burning light, that set body and soul on fire. She was but a poor shepherd's daughter; but what was that to me, when I heard her voice singing one of her old plaintive ballads among the braes,—when I sat down beside her,—when the same plaid was drawn over our shoulders in the rain-storm,—when I asked her for a kiss, and was not refused,—for what had she to fear in her beauty, and her innocence, and her filial piety,—and was not I a mere boy, in the bliss of passion, ignorant of deceit or dishonour, and with a heart open to the eyes of all as to the gates of heaven? What music was in that stream! Could “ Sabean odours from the spicy shores of Araby the Blest” so penetrate my soul with joy, as the balmy breath of the broom on which we sat, forgetful of all other human lise! Father, mother, brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts, and cousins, and all the tribe of friends that would throw me off,—if I should be so base and mad as to marry a low-born, low-bred, ignorant, uneducated, crafty, ay, crafty and designing beggar,—were all forgotten in my deli. rium,-if indeed it were delirium,—and not an everlastingly sacred devotion of the soul to nature and to truth. For in what was I deluded ? A voice,-a faint and dewy voice,deadened by the earth that fills up her grave, and by the turf that, at this very hour, is expanding its primroses to the dew of heaven,-answers, “ In nothing !”
“Ha! ha! ha!” exclaims some reader in derision, 6 here's an attempt at the pathetic, a miserable attempt indeed, for who cares about the death of a mean hut-girl ? we are sick of low life.” Why, as to that matter, who cares for the death of any one mortal being ? Who weeps for the death of the late Emperor of all the Russias? Who wept over Napoleon the Great ? When Chatham or Burke, Pitt or Fox died-don't pretend to tell lies about a nation's tears. And if yourself, who, perhaps, are not in low life, were to die in 'half an hour, (don't be alarmed,) all who
knew you, except two or three of your bosom friends, who, partly from being somewhat dull, and partly from wishing to be decent, might blubber-would walk along Prince's Street at the fashionable hour of three, the very day after your funeral. Nor would it ever enter their heads to abstain from a comfortable dinner at the British Hotel, ordered, perhaps, a month ago, at which time you were in rude health, merely because you had foolishly allowed a cold to fasten upon your lungs, and carry you off in the prime and promise of your professional life. In spite of all your critical slang, therefore, Mr. Editor or Master Contributor to some literary journal, she, though a poor Scottish Herd, was most beautiful; and when, but a week aster taking farewell of her, I went, according to our tryst, to fold her in my arms, and was told by her poor father that she was dead, ay, dead and buried that she had no existence that neither the daylight nor I should ever more be gladdened by her presence—that she was in a coffin, six feet in earth-that the worms were working their way towards the body, to crawl into her bosom—that she was fast becoming one mass of corruption—when I awoke from the dead-fit of horrid dreams in which I had lain on the floor of my Agnes's own cottage, and cursed the sight of the heaven and the earth, and shuddered at the thought of the dread and dismal God—when I
We wish that we had lying on the table before us Grahame's pleasant poem, “ The Birds of Scotland ;" but we lent our copy some years ago to a friend and a friend never returns a borrowed book. But here is a very agree. able substitute—“ A Treatise on British Song Birds,” published by John Anderson, jun., Edinburgh, and Simpkin & Marshall, London. The small musicians are extremely well engraved by Mr. Scott, of Edinburgh, from very correct and beautiful drawings, done by an English artist, and there is a well-written introduction, of forty pages, from the pen of Mr. Patrick Syme. We presume that the rest of the letter-press is by the same gentleman-and it does him very great credit. The volume includes observations on their natural habits, and manner of incubation ; with remarks on the treatment of the young, and management of the old birds, in a domestic state.
“ The delightful music of song.birds is, perhaps, the chief reason why these charming little creatures are, in all countries, so highly prized. Music is an universal language ;-it is understood and cherished in every countrythe savage, the barbarian, and the civilized individual, are all passionately fond of music, particularly of melody. But, delightful as music is, perhaps there is another reason that may have led man to deprive the warblers of the woods and fields of liberty, particularly in civilized states, where the intellect is more refined, and, consequently, the feelings more adapted to receive tender impressions ;-we mean the associations of ideas. Their sweet melody brings him more particularly in contact with groves and meadows—with romantic banks, or beautiful sequestered glades—the cherished scenes, perhaps, of his early youth. But, independent of this, the warble of a sweet song.bird is, in itself, very delightful;-and, to men of sedentary habits, confined to cities by professional duties, and to their desks most part of the day, we do not know a more innocent or more agreeable recreation than the rearing and training of these little feathered musicians.”
Now, we hear many of our readers crying out against the barbarity of confining the free denizens of the air in wire or wicker cages. Gentle readers, do, we pray, keep your compassion for other objects. Or, if you are disposed to be argumentative with us, let us just walk down stairs to the larder, and tell the public truly what we there behold-three brace of partridges, two ditto of moor-fowl, a cock-pheasant, poor fellow,-a man and his wise of the aquatic, or duck kind, and a woodcock, vainly presenting his long Christmas bill
“Some sleeping kill'd-All murder'd.”—
Why, you are indeed a most logical reasoner, and a most considerate Christian, when you launch out into an invective against the cruelty exhibited in our cages. Let us leave this den of murder, and have a glass of our wise's home-made frontiniac in her own boudoir. Come, come, sir,-look on this newly married couple of canaries. The