Page images
PDF
EPUB

ligence of even its most external forms. There is more truth than some might be led to imagine in

Looking from Nature up to Nature's God.”

It is impossible to contemplate the changes of the seasons without connecting them in some degree with ourselves. How closely allied is Spring with all that we remember of the heyday of our youth !—full of budding hopes and anticipated pleasures—cloudy days that were scarcely recognised in our eager watchfulness for the expected sunshine — showers that passed away like childish tears, or were forgotten even while they were falling, so absorbed were we in watching the gorgeous colourings of the rainbow. Life was then a wide field of flowers, over which breeze and sunshine chased each other: we but laughed as we rose elastic from the airy footsteps of the wind, or opened wider the beauty of our bells to catch the golden beams ; even the showers were taken proudly to our bosoms, and treasured like costly crystals. Then came the full Summer of manhoodthe realization of all our wishes ; and we bore our “leafy honours” loftily, and exulted over the fulness of our foliage, and looked proudly down upon the flowers which were fading at our feet. There was a solemnity in our shadow which we knew not of: for the morning sun tipped our tops with gold, and the refreshing dew hung upon our highest branches, and the clear moonlight threw over us a mantle of silver. Days were long and skies bright - even what little we had of darkness was wiled away as we listened to the voice of the nightingale ; streams ran cheerfully at our feet, and we forgot the progress of time while we looked upon our own shadows in the water.Autumn next advanced; but came with such muffled footsteps, that we heard not his stealthy tread, until the long nights left us leisure to contemplate, and the green trophies which we had so proudly worn were carried away by the wind, and the sere and yellow leaf” careered over the naked valleys. Then indeed we sighed for the tender green of spring; but all its

flowers were dead—they had dwindled away unperceived, and the withered leaves lay in mockery in their places, the wind shook our naked branches, and a warning voice called loudly from the clouded sky.—Then Winter shouted from the tops of the desolate hills, and we shrank from the winds we once had wooed, and gathered no refreshment from the falling showers, and heard not a sweet voice wile away the heavy darkness. We heard the footstep of a mourner in the silent snow, and saw a ghastly face when it appeared, and found the blackness of death upon the place where it had trodden-a darkness left behind when it had vanished.

Let it not be imagined that changes like these are in nowise woven with our natures. The sadness of our spirits, arising only from a dull day, and the liveliness we feel in beautiful weather, all spring from deeper sources than we are willing to investigate. Changes of seasons, Summer and Winter, are silent messengers of the Creator, speeding on their mission in the sight of man, and holding a secret intercourse with the heart.

“ There are more things in heaven and earth

Than are dreamt of in our philosophy.” There are fair spirits in the opening flowers, whose mute eloquence conveys deeper feelings to the soul than the uplifted voice of the greatest orator. There is a religious silence in the depth of hoary woods, which kindles solemn thoughts, and throws a dreamy repose over the mind, only surpassed by the perusal of the sacred pages, or the contemplation of the silent city of the dead. There is a gliding phantom in the falling leaf, that steals noiselessly along, until mingled with the clods of the earth, that warns us to prepare for a future state.

There is a sermon in the babbling brook, that glides in its steady course, until lost in rivers that are buried in the deep ocean.

Up and away, then, to the breezy hill-tops, the green lanes, and still woods, if it be only for a few hours in the week. Leave the sin and suffocation of cities, and look out upon the fair face of

Nature-the loveliness that is yet rescued from the withering hand of wealth. Visit the flowery nooks and secluded corners of heaths: they will serve to think about all the long week ; we shall catch a portion of their quietness and beauty, and the mind will become a temple which content and peace may inhabit. Think how little of evil is to be found in these haunts ! The wind wafts no curse upon the ear; we are far from the oppressor's wrongs, and feel the pure air as it is sent from heaven, and exult in the glorious light that streams around us untaxed by man.

Perhaps there is no country in the world where green fields and quiet out-of-the-way places are more eagerly sought for than in England. I speak not of the enjoyment of them occasionally, but a thirst to possess some such spot, which has stimulated many a man to industry such as few save Englishmen can contend with. Look only at London! What numbers you meet on a summer's evening, walking home to their picturesque dwellings, which lie perhaps five miles from the city. They care not for the fatigue of the long walk-nay, it refreshes them after a long day's application to business, and they feel a pleasure in knowing that they will meet a lovely wife and fair, healthful children awaiting their return at the garden-gate: perchance their ears will be arrested by a sound of laughter echoing from the smooth greensward, where they are romping and tumbling over each other. Look at the healthful families that daily pour into the metropolis : they are not in-dwellers of the city, but live where the blackbird sings them to sleep in the evening, and where the early lark is heard singing above the paddock on which their chamber-windows open. Many a father leans with aching head over the time-worn desk in the City, that his family may enjoy the pure air of the suburb. Many a merchant plods through the dull and feverish calculation of traffic for years, that he may at last retire to some quiet cottage which he can call his own, and spend the remainder of his days in peace. And is there no love of Nature in all this? Watch

some old citizen, seated in his little summer-house, -one who has been city-dried for fifty years of his life,-view him eyeing his little garden, and you will at once discover that he feels amply rewarded for all he has undergone. These things are beyond the reach of the poor ; but still, the heaths, and commons, and green-fields are not. There is a pleasure in contemplating the happiness of others; and although we may never be so fortunate as to possess one of these earthly paradises, still there is nothing to hinder us from occasionally enjoying ourselves in similar scenes. We have yet left a few lovely places, where the flowers spring forth, and the shady trees offer a shelter, and the free birds carol as loudly as they did of yore.

Few can gaze upon a beautiful landscape without feeling more or less a sensation of delight—not even those who are familiar with the scene. I had often observed an old woodman, whom I was wont to meet upon the hills in Lincolnshire early on a summer morning; and when he reached the highest summit, (which, when passed, shut out a view of the village and the lovely valley beneath,) he always paused for a few moments to gaze around him. After a time, I became familiar with the old man, and ventured to inquire why he always paused to look back so attentively. “I cannot help it,” said he: “when I see my native place lying so quietly, and think of all my little grandchildren sleeping so safely, and no burnings and battles coming near them, as they do in foreign parts, I can't help looking back, and blessing it from my heart.” I had often gazed times innumerable upon the same scene, for it was indeed a lovely prospect! The church spire towering above a range of goodly elms, and these peopled with clamorous rooks, who were all day sailing to and fro; the green meadows and distant marshes spreading out, with their rows of hedges and tall solitary trees; the low white cottages, with their little windows, partly buried in trellises of woodbine and ivy; the old wooden mill; the whitewashed school ; cattle quietly

grazing; the broad river rolling in the sunshine ;-these were the objects that arrested my attention. But the old woodman, in the simplicity and fulness of his heart, saw master-touches in the picture which I had not then discovered. He had filled the old picturesque church with happy beings, who were hymning the praises of their Creator, and thanking Him for the blessings they enjoyed. In every cottage he had conjured up a family living in safety, harmony, and comfort. He had filled the white sails that were shadowed on the river with plenty, which the free winds bore gladly to all mankind ; and clothed and fed in his mind many a happy family with the cattle that lowed and bleated in the valleys, and with the golden grain that waved on the uplands. He mingled happiness with the purple tints of the landscape, and peace and comfort with the beauty and poetry of the scenery.

No one can fully enjoy the beauties of the country without carrying in his mind associations like these. The bare, external features of a landscape are always pleasing ; but the grand arcanum consists in the pleasures they afford, and the quiet and comfort they bring to our fellow-men. A May-pole, for instance, is a picture of itself, standing in the centre of a village-green, with its drooping garlands and fading streamers : for when we gaze upon it, we conjure up happy groups; we rush back to the olden time, when our forefathers congregated around it, with music and dancing, and loud huzzas-when youth and beauty and childhood were wild with happiness, and old age threw aside its cares and pains, and shared in the universal glee. I never see an old oak spreading its branches before an ancient farmhouse without thinking of harvest-home, and sheep-shearing feasts, and all those harmless, pastoral amusements which our ancestors enjoyed.

England is a beautiful country. Its green valleys, and verdant hills, and lovely woods, and sweet rivers running for miles through flowery meadows, seem only made for a happy people to dwell among. What souls have been kindled in England !

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »