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ime past, and feeling wandered withy, I
By F. W. OXENBOULD.
They sang a chorus of spring and of love; their fresh voices vibrated in the silence of the sleeping fields like the distant sounds of a cascade. I hid myself behind a hawthorn bush and saw them pass like unto a swarm of those white shadows which assemble at night to form light and airy dances by the banks of the meandering streams, and which vanish at the first glimpse of dawn. I distinguished by the light of the stars their dark or fair hair; I heard the rustling of their robes and saw the bright clear sparkling of their eyes, which seemed, like the beautiful harvest-moon, to shed a halo around them; I felt myself seized with an unknown trouble, and having seated myself on a mound, near the borders of a wide prairie, which stretched out at my feet like an ocean of verdure, I hid my face in my hands, and remained plunged in a profound reverie-listening and seeking to understand the strange agitation within me. I know not how to express what I then felt; my
heart seemed oppressed even to bursting; I felt a something within me which I could not define. I know not how long I remained thus, but when I rose I saw before me a celestial creature, who looked on me and smiled. A tunic, whiter than the lily, fell in graceful folds around her form, and revealed on the green turf which they scarcely touched, two feet, pure and white as the marble of Paras.
Her hair floated freely on her neck, her cheeks had the freshness and the beauty of the flowers which crowned her head. One of her hands rested on her bosom, while the other appeared to invite me with a benevolent and tender gesture. I remained for some minutes gazing on her, motionless and in silence. Without doubt she came from heaven, for her beauty was nought like that of the Daughters of Earth. “Who art thou ?” cried I at length, and stretching out my hands towards her. “ Friend,” replied she, in a voice sweeter than the breezes of the night, “ I am the Fairy which the King of the Genii placed in thy bosom in the hour of thy birth. This morning I slept there still, but awoke at the first trouble which assailed thy heart. My life is bound up in thine ; I am thy sister, and will be thy companion until the day when, like a flower withered in its stalk, I shall abandon thee and leave thee, and leave thee alone in that path the first part of which we had walked together. Nor is that day far distant, young friend. The rose, which blooms but a single day, is the image of my destiny. If thou wouldst love me, do not wait till thou hast lost me, for then, when I am gone, neither thy tears nor thy regret can bring me back. Hasten, then, my hand is not armed with the magic branch, nor with the enchanter's wand, and I have no other ornaments but flowers interwoven with my hair; but I will load you with greater treasures than ever the most benevolent and powerful fairy could shed on the cradle of royalty. I will place on thy brow a crown which kings would be delighted to purchase at the price of their own. Invisible, though present, I will attend thy footsteps everywhere, and always shalt thou feel and be sensible of my influence. I will embellish every scene thou visitest in the still night; I will perfume thy couch, and when thou wakest in the morn, I will pour my soul on the face of natnre to please thee when thou goeth forth. Glorious will be our pleasure together, but these blessings which I bring unto you, learn to know them-seize them before they escape from thee; handle them without without causing them to fade, and enjoy them without exhausting their fragrance. Make provision for the other
parts of the road in which thou must journey without me. Friend, I have already told thee that the course of my life is short, but it is thine, if thou wish to prolong my frail and precarious existence. I am like those rare and tender plants over which we must regulate the sun and the rain. My feet are delicate-do not weary them in following thee. The lustre of my cheeks is more tender than the convolvulus of the hedge-if thou do not wish to see it fade, do not expose me to sharp trials, do not draw me through dark shadows.
“Watch !-be careful—so that when I leave thee, remorse mingle not with the sad regrets which my loss will cause, and that the hallowed remembrance of me may still charm thy heart with sweet reflections and remembrances, long after I have ceased to lighten and to warm thy life.”
At these words, like a guardian angel who bends over the cradle, she leaned towards me her fair head, and I felt her lips press on my forehead-more fresh, more perfumed, than thyme which grows on the borders of a fountain. I opened my arms in eagerness to clasp her, but the sweet apparition had vauished like a dream. Was it not a dream of my youthful heart and boyish mind? I hurried through the fields--now running like one deranged now throwing myself on the green sward—sometimes stretching out my arms towards the stars, speaking to them in the language of love_I talked with the trees, the flowers, the bushes—I felt within me a torrent of life gushing out and speaking over all nature.
The dyke was broken down !- The source had pierced the rock! I laughed, I wept, I swam in an unbounded sea of indescribable joy and felicity. That evening, when the east began to pale, it seemed as if I was present for the first time at the waking of creation. My heart beat with joy--I breathed the air with pride_I thought for a moment that my soul was freed from its earthly toils, and was taking its light and rapid flight through space, mingled with the soft vapours which the rising sun drew from the hills. From the height of a mountain which I had climbed, I looked on the horizon with the eye of a conquerer — the earth had just been created for me, and I felt the master of the whole world.
(To be concluded in our next.)
THE ECLIPSE OF FAITH, OR A VISIT TO A RELI
GIOUS SCEPTIC. London, Longman and Co Though this work is published anonymously, yet, if we are any judges of internal evidence, it is doubtless the production of one of whom our Midland Metropolis, as well as the particular institution with which he is connected, has good reason to be proud. The same closeness of argument, the same facility of illustration, the same underground vein of quiet, humourous satire, which characterised “Reason and Faith,” run through this larger and more elaborate volume ; exhibiting, unmistakably, a master's hand.
The work is in the form of a series of letters from a gentleman in this country to a brother who is a Missionary abroad. They open by relating the unwelcome news that a nephew, a favorite of them both, is turned Sceptic; but that as the writer was going to pay him a visit he should be able to say more about his peculiar opinions in future letters. Those future letters contain, among a mass of other powerful and lucid remarks on the different bearings of the Christain evidences, details of conversations between himself, his said nephew, and numerous sceptical friends of every size and degree, breed and denomination. The author by these means gains at once all the ease and force of Epistolary and Dramatic writing; and places Christianity and Scepticism in various phases of antagonism which could not be otherwise attained. As an example of his keen but quiet satire take the following extract from the “Sceptic's” reply to a disciple of Atkinson and Martineau :
“ That the Miracles and prophecies of the Bible may possibly have been true-only the effect of mesmerism ; that things quite as wonderful, or more so, happen every day by this wonderful agent; that every phenomenon that takes place does so in virtue of a perfectly wise Law - without any wise Lawgiver; that this wise Law has, it seems, pre-arranged that man should generally exhibit an inveterate tendency to religious systems of some kind, though all religions are absurd, and persist in believing in his free-will, though free-will is an utter impossibility ;-that these contradictions and absurdities of man are the result of an irreversible necessity, and yet that Mr. Atkinson may hope to correct them; that by the same necessity, man is in no degree culpable or responsible, and yet that Mr. Atkinson may perpetually blame him; that no man can do any thing wrong, and yet that, till he believe that, man will never cease to do it; that people may see to read without their eyes, and distinguish colors as colors though they are born blind; --that Bacon was an atheist, and that this may be proved by induction from his own writings ;—these, and other paradoxes which I must believe if I believe Mr. Atkinson, require a faith which it would be unreasonable to expect from such a Sceptic as I.” p. p. 164-5.
There are portions of the volume surpassing every thing of the class which we have ever met with. We might instance“ The blank bible,” “ The fools' paradise,” and “ The papal aggression impossible.” The last named jeu d'esprit an argument a la Strauss şnpposed to be urged eighteen hundred years hence, to shew that the late papal aggression in England could not by any possibility be an historic fact, but must be a myth or allegory—is exceedingly happy and pointed. We will not spoil these portions of the work by making inefficient extracts, but must advise our readers to purchase and peruse for themselves. As another example however of the author's style, somewhat different to the one quoted above, we take a passage from the chapter on “Book revelation":- .
“ The principles of Spiritual and religious life are capable, in an infinite variety of ways, of being modified, intensified, vivified, by external influences brought to bear upon them from time to time. Not only must that external influence be excited for the first awakening of the soul, but it must be continued all our life long, in order to maintain the principles, thus elicited, in a state of activity. Sometimes they seem for awhile to have been half obliterated-to fade away from the consciousness; they are re-illumined, made to blaze out again in brilliant light on the “ walls of the chambers of imagery,” by some outward stimulus; by "a word spoken in season”; by the recollection of some weighty apothegm which embodies-some ennobling image which illustrates it; by the utterance of certain “charmed words” hallowed by association as they fall on the external seuse, or are recalled by memory.-How familiar to us is all this dependence on the external ! How dull, how sluggish has often been the soul! A single word, the sight of an object surrounded by vivid associations, the sudden suggestion of a half forgotten strain of poetry or song, what power have these to stir its stagnant depths, and awaken “ spiritual” and every other species of emotion, as well as intellectual activity! The lightning does not more suddenly cleave the cloud in which it