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CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
Now, while the fervid ray shoots o'er the skies,
Grows sweeter in the shade of wavy woods,
THERE is no part of a SUMMER'S DAY in the country more delightful, perhaps, to the con
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 Hæmus' 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,