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templative man, than are its NOONTIDE HOURS, provided the fervency which usually attends upon them, be sufficiently attempered by the grateful contrast of protecting shade. All nature, indeed, seems at this sultry season sunk in lassitude and repose, and an universal stillness reigns around, even deep as that which waits upon the noon of night. It is then we fly to woods, to waters, and to caves, whose comparative coolness, whilst it breathes a delicious balm through every nerve, singularly disposes the mind, not only to the full enjoyment of the scenery itself which secludes us from the blaze of day, but to the indulgence of those trains and associations of thought which spring from, and luxuriate in, the realms of fancy and meditation.
Mindful, therefore, of the soothing influence which we owe to the sheltered solitude of a Summer's Noon, it may prove no unpleasing task, nor one altogether void of moral instruction, should we enter somewhat minutely into a detail of the pleasures, feelings, and reflections, which a retreat of this kind is calculated to supply; more especially as relating to the impressions resulting from its scenery, from its
tendency to dispose the mind to musing and reverie, to the enthusiasm of poetry, the charms of philosophy, and the consolations of an enlightened piety.
In no circumstances, indeed, can we be placed where, from the power of contrast, the sensations springing from the gloom, the depth, and breezy coolness of aged woods and forests, are more coveted or more fully enjoyed than when the beams of a vertical sun are raging in the world around us. It is then, that in the beautiful language of Virgil, we are ready to express our eager wishes, and exclaim,
O qui me gelidis in vallibus Hæmi Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbrâ ! Georg. lib. ii. v. 488.
Hide me, some God, where Hamus' vales extend, And boundless shade and solitude defend!
a passage which Thomson, who studied the Roman poet with the happiest taste and emulation, adopting a wider canvass, has expanded into a picture which seems, whilst we behold it,
to breathe the very freshness of the living landscape. He is describing the hottest hours of
Thrice happy he! who on the sunless side
Ye ashes wild, resounding o'er the steep!
If any thing were wanting to paint in yet stronger terms the intense gratification which, with other adjuncts of a similar kind, umbrage dark and deep as this affords, when Nature pants as it were beneath the dazzling deluge, no where can it be better drawn than from a sketch presented to us by Mr. Gisborne, who, in describing a peasant boy watching unsheltered his master's herd during the fervor of a summer's noon, represents him, overcome by the
sultriness of the hour, as falling asleep and dreaming of what is directly opposed to the throbbing heat which burns within his bosom. It is a delineation full of merit, and illustrated in a manner which touches some of the finest feelings of the heart.
Panting, bare-headed, and with outstretch'd arms
It is, however, where amid the twilight of the grove or wood, we ineet the lake, the cave, the gushing stream, or murmuring fountain, that our triumph over the fervors of the summernoon becomes complete; and we are tempted to
compare our happy lot, not only with the situation of those who are necessitated to labour beneath the blaze of an European sun, but with those who are condemned to endure the tenfold horrors of a torrid clime. It is a comparison of this kind which has rendered the following lines so pre-eminently striking, especially towards the close, where the personification of thirst introduces a thought that speaks to us in the very voice of nature.
But ever against restless heat,
Me, Goddess, in such cavern lay,