Page images


ful examples of it under the latter character may be seen in two or three of the inner quadrangles both of Oxford and Cambridge.

[ocr errors]

Finally, now that once wildest and tamest of birds, most social and most solitary, the robin, first begins to place its trust in man; flitting about the feet of the gardener as he turns up the freshened earth, and taking its food almost from the spade as it moves in his hand; or standing at a little distance from him among the fallen leaves, and singing plaintively, as if practising beforehand the dirge of the departing year."

"The characters of grandeur and magnificence," says Enfield, "are so legibly inscribed upon the general face of Nature, that the most untaught eye cannot fail to read them, nor the most uncultivated imagination contemplate them without admiring. The surface of the earth, considered merely as a vast picture drawn by the hand of Nature, exhibits scenes adapted to excite emotions of sublimity. Plains, whose extent exceeds the limits of human vision; mountains, whose sides are embrowned with craggy rocks, and whose majestic summits hide themselves in the clouds; seas, whose spreading waters unite far-distant countries and oceans, which begird the vast globe itself,―are objects at all times striking to the imagination.

"If from the earth we lift our eyes upward, new scenes of magnificence demand our attentive admiration: the glorious sun, the eye and soul of this material world, possessing his seat amidst the vast expanse, and spreading light and heat through the world; and, in their turn, the numberless lamps of night illuminating the firmament with their native fires.

"Let the great powers of Nature be brought into action, and still more sublime and awful appearances rise to our view. Let woods and forests wave before the stormy winds; let ocean 'heave from his extended bed,' and roll his threatening billows to the sky let volcanoes pour forth pillars of smoke and melted


torrents from their fiery caverns; let lightnings dart their vivid fires through the sky, whilst thunders roar among the bursting clouds; what imagination shall remain unimpressed with emotions of admiration mingled with terror?

"The man who is enlightened by the study of Nature sees this earth as a globe of vast magnitude, moving perpetually round the sun with a degree of rapidity much greater than has ever been produced by human force or art; at the same time he sees other globes, some less, and others much larger, than the earth, revolving with inconceivable rapidity round the sun, as their common centre, at distances so great that, though they may be expressed in numbers, they far exceed the utmost stretch of the human imagination. This set of planets, which he knows to have, with our earth, a common relation to the sun, he very reasonably concludes to be a system of worlds, all peopled with suitable inhabitants, and all deriving supplies of light and heat from the same source.

"Extending his views beyond this system, and finding, from observation, that the fixed stars are in themselves luminous bodies, and that their distance from the earth is so much greater than that of the planets or sun as to be absolutely immeasurable,―he concludes, upon the most probable grounds, that those sparkling gems which deck the robe of night are not placed in the heavens merely for the convenience of this earth, but are, like our glorious luminary, suns to their respective systems of worlds."

[ocr errors]

Happy the man who his whole time doth bound
Within the enclosure of his little ground!

Happy the man whom the same humble place

(The hereditary cottage of his race)

From his first rising infancy has known,

And by degrees sees gently bending down

With natural propension to that earth

Which both preserved his life and gave him birth!

Him no false distant lights, by fortune set,

Could ever into foolish wanderings get.

He never dangers either saw or fear'd:
The dreadful storms at sea he never heard.
He never heard the shrill alarms of war,
Or the worse noises of the lawyers' bar.
No change of consuls marks to him the year-
The change of seasons is his calendar.

The cold and heat winter and summer shows;
Autumn by fruits, and spring by flowers, he knows :
He measures time by landmarks, and has found
For the whole day the dial of his ground.

A neighbouring wood, born with himself, he sees,
And loves his old contemporary trees.

He 'as only heard of near Verona's name,
And knows it, like the Indies, but by fame;

Does with a like concernment notice take

Of the Red Sea, and of Benacus' Lake.
Thus health and strength he to a third age enjoys,
And sees a long posterity of boys.

About the spacious world let others roam,
The voyage, life, is longest made at home."

[merged small][graphic]
[graphic][merged small]

Hark! how the merry hunter's horn

O'er hill, and vale, and forest sounds!
And on through tangling fern and thorn

Rush panting steeds and baying hounds;
While far away, with stealthy pace,

The doubling fox still heads the chase.

THE beauty of our landscape has vanished, and, like the shifting scenes of a theatre, in the very places where we before gazed upon green hills, umbrageous woods, and flowery mea'dows, are now presented brown summits, naked trees, and fields flooded with the rains. The swallow no longer skims over the river, but has set off on his long journey in quest of sunnier climes; the minstrelsy of the bee has ceased, for scarce a flower now uplifts its transparent cup with honied welcome;

the poor robin alone sings his solitary song, over the skeleton leaves, that wander about like fairy phantoms seeking in vain for a resting-place. The wind and the rain are abroad careering over the gloomy hill-tops, and chasing each other over the damp marshes: there is a howling and rattling noise heard throughout the long black nights, and the wind seems calling aloud to the rain, as it taps its liquid fingers upon our casements. Our gardens seem mourning over the departure of summer; the footmarks of desolation are printed upon our parterres, and the hand of death has smitten both flower and stem with decay: dead leaves are thickly piled in moist masses upon our walks, and cling with a tenacious clamminess to our feet. The ethereal hues of the flower-bells, that blazed in azure, crimson, and gold, and threw their rich fragrance upon the wide air, have vanished, like a beautiful rainbow that leaves in its place a sorrowful gloominess. The brooks no longer murmur melodiously under the drooping greenery of reflected boughs, but foam and boil in their maddening might, exulting in their rage, and rolling proudly over the yielding banks, like a wild horse that has shaken off his trammels and despises the puny arm of his rider. In the powerful language of the Scripture, we have now a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, even very dark, and no brightness in it, for the land is darkened, and when we wait for light, there cometh a deep darkness.”

[ocr errors]

Fox-hunting commences this month; for although it may have begun earlier, the fallen leaves make the scent doubtful. It is a pleasing sight to witness the assembled horsemen riding leisurely up and down some extensive heath or common, turning every now and then to accost an old friend, whose scarlet jacket was seen a mile off, glancing between the naked trees, as he approached; or to see the lovely figure of some young lady,

[ocr errors][merged small]

pacing to and fro upon her palfrey, and waiting anxiously for

« PreviousContinue »