Page images


Almost every town has been surrounded by nature with scenes of beauty and loveliness, which railways make as accessible as the picture-gallery in the next street. Off, then, in your spare days and holidays, off with wife and children, and look at nature face to face. Let them run, and do you run with them, over the flower-strewn field, or climb the hill with them, and behold from its summit the wonderful panorama spread beneath you. There are such places close round every one's dwelling now; and others are to be reached in your holiday times. The pleasant and picturesque Matlock scenery ; the glorious Malvern hills; the wondrous peaks and lovely dales of Derbyshire; the ever-changing splendours of the Lake counties; the riches of Devonshire; the grand and picturesque honours of Wales ; the infinite and eloquent sea; these, and even the glories of Ireland and Scotland, are now within reach of almost all men; and thus are provided for the people sources of inexhaustible joy, and means of inestimable value, giving health, instruction, peace, and good-will to thousands. Well might the poet sing,

"The sculptured form is a noble thing, and the painting rich and

rare ;

And noble is the pillar'd aisle, with its arch, raised high in air; And the earth hath a thousand noble things, that loud for praises

call; But the grimy engine, black with smoke, is as noble as them all."*

But it may be objected, such a source of recreation requires money and leisure ; that we want resources

Thoughts from the Inner Circle."


for such open-air amusements at our own doors, and that we want them for all seasons,-for the evening after work is over, and for the spare hour as it

These should be, and are being, provided by our public parks, which will afford to townsmen the places for outdoor exercise, and recreation for common and every-day occasions; while the distant journey and longer ramble will be reserved for holidays, and for the opportunities provided by care, by forethought, and provident habits. These will, in the end, prove the greatest enemy to intemperance, and the strongest competitor against the saloon and the gin-palace: for we know by experience, that if we only put the people in the way of occupying their leisure in useful, innocent, and elevating pursuits, they will not prefer the grosser and degrading onės, so long the only ones accessible to them. Thus we deemed it would not be out of place, in a work like the present, to occupy a few pages in contrasting our own times with the past, and in comparing the sources offered, both for the amusement and recreation of the people, and in inquiring whether we have reason to rejoice or mourn over the changes which have taken place in this respect. It is so common for men to look upon things that have been with all the fondness of memory brooding over something loved and lost, that but few of us have not, at times, lamented over our own often-called degenerate days, and drawn up a long list of golden glories departed, and pleasant pursuits lost to the world for ever. This is in itself natural, and not to be entirely condemned ; and, providing it do not interfere with action, and prevent us from using the good which is in the present, is not particularly a subject for rebuke : but if any one let his love for the past stand in the way of the introduction of amusements congenial to the spirit and wants of the present, then that love is to be deprecated as injurious and obstructive. The work of the day is the one essential thing to be done; and he who only repines over a buried past had better take for his companion an Egyptian mummy, and console himself with the wisdom he can extract from his communications.

“ The right thing,” says a wise man, "is to 'go out for a holiday;' to seek change of scene, and change of air, and change of action; to divest oneself of all the environments of work-day life; to enter, as it were, into a new state of being, as does the grub when he eventuates into a butterfly, and spreads his wings in the summer air. Grateful, indeed, ought this generation to be for the benignant aid of steam, which affords unfailing facilities to holiday-makers seeking change of scene and air, carrying them to remote places within an hour's space, and suffering them to see hundreds of miles of country, in a single day, for a few shillings. It is no small thing that in these times a toil-worn artisan may transport himself from the stifling alley or the reeking court in which he lives, to the fresh, breezy coast of Brighton, for half-a-crown, and be carried home again for nothing. Or, if he is not minded to go so far a-field, there is the Crystal Palace of

Sydenham, or the Royal Palace at Hampton Court, or the Rye House, famous in history for its plot, to all of which he may make pleasant excursions at a small charge, and travel out of himself as thoroughly as though he were new-born, going back into a past, or onward into a future age, and forgetting all the wearying toil and carking anxiety of the present. There is nothing pleasanter than the sight of a railway-train freighted with excursionists outward-bound, all radiant with the expectation of a day's pleasure. And such may be seen now-a-days in the outskirts of every large town, on summer and autumn mornings; for London has no monopoly of such blessings. If the South has its Brighton, the North has its Scarborough ; and, indeed, it is easy everywhere to rush out of the smoke. I hear people who can take their month's holiday when they like, and travel by express trains, and get up extensive outfits for the occasion, with all sorts of elaborate contrivances suggestive of nothing less than an expedition into Central Africa, sneer at these excursions, as things snobbish; but it seems to me that the sneerers are the real snobs, and that I have seen, in first-class carriages, exclusively got-up holiday-makers of both sexes, far more vulgar, because more pretentious, than the poor little Pippas of the silk mills treated by their adıniring suitors to half-a-crown's worth of fresh air and green leaves in the pleasant country. And a ripe, rich comfort ought it to be to all who get their holidays regularly every year, without let or bindrance, and, perhaps, without injury to them


selves and others, that the blessings which they enjoy are now within the reach of millions less favoured than themselves. And I hope, too, that they who look up from the lower strata of society at people sleeker than themselves, in richer purple, and in finer linen, do not grudge them their holidays, and say, "What have they to do with such things? Is not life all a holiday to them ?' Indeed, it is not, my friend. Purple and fine linen do not make holidays, any more than they make happiness. Let us rejoice in the enjoyments of each other. Let us shake hands over the blessed privileges of a few days' rest. Is it rest of body, or rest of mind ? What matters ? Bodily labour and mental labour, both have their privileges, and both have their pains. Let us not envy—let us honour one another. If Hand goes to Rye House, and Head to Wiesbaden, for a holiday, let us hope that each is equally benefitted by the change, and equally thankful for it.” * And surely it will be so. Those who so use their fine weather, will not make their fire-sides the place of envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness.

Thus, in our own day, we have many sources of out-door recreation, and many good and fitting ways of spending our leisure hours healthfully, rationally, and profitably. None, not even the humblest, is so altogether denuded of resources, but that, if he have the will, he may now become participator in pleasures which the richest of his ancestors could not procure. At all seasons of the year nature is beauti

[ocr errors]

* Cornhill Magazine, vol. ii., pp. 248, 249.


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »