Imágenes de páginas

--with its decent pews, little loft, and unambitious pulpitthe friendly faces of the rural congregation-the grave elders sitting in their place of honour-the pious preacher, who to us had been a father!-Oh! many-toned are the voices on the Sabbath, all praising and worshipping God! List-list, in the hush of thy spirit, and all Christian lands are sounding with one various hymn!

And then London, ere long, became to us—in all its vastness—even as our very home! For all undisturbed amidst the din, and murmuring internally, each with its own peculiar character of domestic joys, with laughter and with song-how many dwellings for us did open their hospitable doors, and welcome us in, with blessings, beneath their social roofs ! Our presence brought a brighter expression into their partial eyes; our mirth never seemed otherwise than well-timed to them, nor yet did our melancholy-nor failed either to awaken congenial feelings in the breasts of those to whom we were too undeservedly dear-smiles went round the hearth or table circle to our quaint ditty and tale of glee and the tears have fallen, when in the parlour twilight” we sang

“One of those Scottish tunes so sad and slow,”

or told some one of those old, pathetic, traditionary stories, that still, cloud-like, keep floating over all the hills of Scotland! Oh! the great pleasure of friendships formed in youth! where chance awakens sympathy, accident kindles affection—and fortune, blind and restless on her revolving wheel, favours, as if she were some serene-eyed and steadfast divinity, the purest passions of the soul! As one friendship was added to another and base creed it is -most shallow and fantastic-that would confine amity, even in its dearest meaning—for how different is friendship from love to communicate but with some single chosen one, excluding all our other brethren from approach to the heart—although true it is, that some one, in our greatest bale and our greatest bliss, will be more tenderly, more profoundly, more gratefully embraced than all the rest-as friendship was added to friendship, as family after family, household after household, became each a new

part of our enlarged being, how delightful, almost every successive day, to feel ou knowledge growing wider and warmer of the virtues of the character of England! Perhaps some unconscious nationality had been brought with us from our native braes-narrowing our range of feeling, and inclining sometimes to unjust judgments and unkindly thoughts. But all that was poor or bad in that prejudice, soon melted away before the light of bold English eyes, before the music of bold English speech. Sons and daughters of the free! As brothers and as sisters we loved you soon--without suspicion, without reserve, without jealousy, without envy of your many superior and surpassing endowments of nature, and accomplishments of art! For, with all deduction on the score of inevitable human fault and frailty, how high the morals of England, her manners how becoming the children of such a birth!

The friends, too, whom in those sacred hours, we had taken to our hearts, linked, along with other more human ties, by the love of literature and poetry-and with whom we had striven to enter

“ The cave obscure of old Philosophy,"

and when starry midnight shone serenely over Oxford's towers and temples, sighed—vainly sighed with unsatisfied longings and aspirations, that would not let us rest, to " un. sphere the spirit of Plato”—they, too, were often with us in the wide metropolis, where, wide as it is, dear friends cannot almost be for a single day, but by some happy fortune they meet! How grasped-clasped were then our hands and our hearts ! How all college recollections-cheerful and full of glee-or high and of a solemn shade-came over us from the silence of those still retreats, in the noise of the restless London! Magdalen, Mertoun, Oriel, ChristChurch, Trinity-how pleasant were your names !

Hundreds of morning, meridian, evening, midnight meet. ings! Each with its own—nor let us fear to declare it beneath those sunny skies with its blameless, at least not sinful, charm. Now carried on a stream of endless, va. rious, fluctuating converse, with a friend, more earnest, more enthusiastic, more impassioned than ourselves—and

nature filled not our veins with frozen blood-along streets and squares, all dimly seen or unseen, and the faces and figures of the crowds that went thronging by, like the faces and figures in some regardless dream! Now walking in, on a sudden, and as if by some divine impulse, into that cathedral-or that abbey-ask not their namesand there, apart and silent, standing with fixed eyes before statue or tomb! Now glide gliding in light canoe with wind and tide adown the great river, in indolent- yet imaginative reverie, while masts and sails, and trees and towers, as they all went floating through the air, seemed scarcely to belong to any world-or proud of the skuller's skill, and emulous of the strength of the broad-breasted watermen whom Father Thames sustains, striving, stripped, against the waves a-ripple and a-foam with the rapid ebb, impatient to return to the sea! Now a-foot along pleasant pathways, for a time leading through retired and sylvan places, and then suddenly past a cluster of cottages, or into a pretty village, almost a town, and purposely withholding our eyes from the prospect, till we had reached one well remembered eminence and then the glorious vision seen from Richmond Hill! Where, where, on the face of all the earth, can the roaming eye rest in more delighted repose than on the « pleasant villages and farms" that far and wide compose that surburban world, so rich in trees alone, that were there no other beauty, the poet could even find a paradise both for week-day and Sabbath hours, in the bright neighbourhood of London ! Endless profusion and prodigality of art, coping almost successfully with nature! Wealth is a glorious thing in such creations. Riches are the wands of magicians. Poverty bleakens the earth-in her region grandeur is bare—and we sigh for something that is not among the naked rocks. But here from the buried gold, groves rise with such loads of ver. dure, that but for their giant boughs and branches, their heads would be bowed down to the lawns and gardens, gorgeous all with their flushing flowers, naturalized in the all-bearing soil of England, from all climes, from the occident to the orient!

But where cease the suburban charms of the Queen of Cities? Mansion after mansion-each more beautifully

embowered than another-or more beautifully seated on some gently undulating height, above the far-sweeping windings of the silver Thames, is still seen by the roamer's eye, not without some touch of vain envy at his heart of those fortunate ones, for whom life thus lavishes all its elegance and all its ease-Oh, vain envy indeed! for who knows not that all happiness is seated alone in the heart ! -till, ere he remembers that far-off London has vanished quite away, he looks up, and lo! the towers of Windsorthe palace of old England's kings.

Nor are those " sylvan scenes” unworthily inhabited. Travel city-crowded continents, sail in some circumnavigating ship to far and fair isles, that seem dropt from heaven into the sea, vet shall your eyes behold no lovelier living visions than the daughters of England. Lovelier never visited poet's slumbers nightly—not even when before him in youth

“ Hope, enchanted, smiled, and waved her golden hair!" And of England's “interrita pubes,” let speak the shore of every sea

“A race in faith unstain'd, invincible in arms."

Wasted away, we knew not, cared not whither, on the wings of wonder and admiration,—when, during the long summer silence, the towers of Oxford kept chiming to deserted courts and cloisters,all England, its downs, its wolds, its meadows, its plains, its vales, its hills, its moun. tains, minsters, abbeys, cathedrals, castles, palaces, vil. lages, towns, and cities, all became tributary to our imagination, gazing upon her glories with a thousand eyes. Now we breathed the fragrance of Devonia's myrtle bowers-now from St. Michael's Mount “ looked to Bayona and the Giant's Hold,” now wept and worshipped at the grave of Shakspeare, or down the yellow Avon thought we saw sailing her own sweet stately swan ! Now gazed in dread astonishment on Portsmouth's naval arsenal, and all that machinery-sublime, because of the power that sets it a-going, and far more, because of the power that it sends abroad, winged and surcharged with thunder, all over the main-ships without masts, sheerhulks, majestic and magnificent even in that bare black magnitude, looning through the morning or evening gloaming and lo! a first-rater, deck above deck, tier above tier of guns, sending up, as she sails in sunshine, her clouds into the sky; and as the Ocean Queen bears up in the blast, how grand her stern—and what a height above the waves tumbling a-foam in her wake! Now seated on the highest knoll of all the bright Malvern Hills in breathless delight, slowly turning round our head in obedience to the beauty and grandeur of that panoramamatchless on earth-we surveyed at one moment county upon county, of rich, merry, sylvan England, mansioned, abbeyed, towered, spired, castled; and at another, differ. ent, and yet not discordant, say, rather, most harmonious with that other level scene, the innumerous mountains of Wales, cloud-crested, or clearly cutting with outlines free, flowing or fantastic, here the deep blue, there the dark purple, and yonder the bright crimson sky! Wales, glorious, even were she without other glory, with Plinlimmon, Cader-Idris, Snowdon,

“ Vocal no more since Cambria's fatal day,

To high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay.”

Now borne as on .angel's wing, and in the “ very waist and middle of the night,” we sat down a solitary on Der. went Water's shore,

" While the cataract of Lodore

Peal'd to our orisons !"

Now while Luna and her nymphs delighted to behold their own beauty on its breathless bosom, we hung in a little skiff, like a water-lily moored in moonshine, in the fairest of all fair scenes in nature, and the brightest of all the bright-how sweet the music of her name, as it falls from our lips with a blessing-Windermere-Windermere!

And thus we robbed all England of her beauty and her sublimity, her grandeur and her magnificence, and bore it all off and away treasured in our heart of hearts. Thus,

« AnteriorContinuar »