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degraded, is the serpent, whose history is and diffusing poison—the locust, whose unavoidably associated with the introduc- plagues are often commemorated—the hortion of sin and sorrow into the world. Whe- net, to whose stings Milton describes Samson ther from this association, or from an instinc- as comparing the accumulated agony of his tive horror of its “venomous tooth,” it is own restless thoughts—the glow-worm, certain that the serpent is more generally whose feeble light is like a fairy star, beamdreaded, and more loathed, even by those ing upward from a world upon which all who do not fear it, than any other living thing; other stars look down-and the cankerand yet how beautiful is its sagacious eye, worm, whose fatal ravages destroy the how rich and splendid its colouring, how bloom of youth, and render void the prodelicate the tracery of net-work thrown all digality of summer-passing over all these over its glossy scales, how graceful and easy and many more, in which we recognise the its meandering movements, as it winds itself familiar companions of the poet, we turn our in amongst the rustling grass, how much attention to the buiterfly and the moth, as like one of the fairest objects in nature, a being most associated with refined and clear blue river wandering through a distant agreeable ideas. valley! Yet all these claims to beauty, The butterfly is like a spiritual attendant which the serpent unquestionably possesses, upon the poet's path, whether he dreams of entitle it the more to the contempt and ab- it as an emblem of the soul, fluttering around horrence of mankind, by obtaining for it the the fair form of Psyche, or beholds it in no character of insinuating guile, which the less beautiful reality, sporting from flower to allurements it is recorded to have practised flower, and teaching him the highest intelupon our first mother seem fully to confirm. lectual lesson-to gather sweets from all.
The toad, save for the “precious jewel in We are apt in our childhood to delight in his head,” can scarcely be called poetical, the legendary tales of fairy people inhabitthough not unfrequenty found in verse as a ing the groves, the gardens, or the fields, striking similitude for the extreme of ugliness, and regard with an interest almost superstias well as for a despicable proneness to grovel tious, that mysterious circle of dark green in what is earthly and most abhorrent to our verdure that remains from year to year finer feelings, from its frequenting low, marking the enchanted spot, where once damp, unwholesome places, the banks of they were believed to hold their midnight stagnant pools, or the nettles and lone grass revels. Butterflies, in their exquisite colourthat wave over the gloomy and untrodden ing, their airy movements, and ephemeral ground where the dead lie sleeping in their lives, exhibit to the imaginative beholder no silent rest.
slight resemblance to these ideal beings, as The snail has certainly no strong claims they glide through the scented atmosphere to poetioal merit; yet we often find it serv- of the parterre, nestle in the velvet leaves ing the purpose of simile and illustration, of the rose, or touch without soiling the from its tardy movements, and the faculty it snowy bosom of the lily. has of carrying about its home, into which it The butterfly is also strikingly emblematshrinks on the first touch of the enemy. And ical of that delicacy which shrinks from even the lowly worm has some title to the communion with all that is rude or base. poet's regard, because of its utter degrada- Touch but its gorgeous wings, and their tion, and the circumstance of its being, of beauty falls away-immure the woodland all living things, most liable to injury, at the wanderer in captivity, and it pines and dies same time that it is one of the least capable -let the breath of the storm pass over it, of resistance or revenge.
and in an instant it perishes. Passing slightly over the multitudinous The moth is less splendidly beautiful than family of insects, we leave the beetle to his the butterfly. It has a graver character, evening flight--the grasshopper, whose and seeks neither the sunshine nor the flowmerry chirp enlivens the wayside traveller ers of summer; yet it is liable to be de-the bee, perhaps the most poetical of any, stroyed by the same degree of violence, from his opposite qualities of collecting honey | Supported by the same slight thread of life, and scarcely perceptible amongst the even- conveying the following severe, yet just reing shadows, except as an animated speck proof to man. of moving mist, it yet possesses one striking characteristic, of which the poet fails not to “ Has God, thou fool! work'd solely for thy good! avail himself-a tendency to seek the light,
Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food!
Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn, even when that light must prove fatal to its For him as kindly spreads the flow'ry lawn. own existence. How many poetical ideas
Is it for thee the lark ascends and sings?
But has this simple tendency excited!
Joy tnnes his voice, joy elevates his wings.
Is it for thee the linnet pours his throat ? enough on this fertile theme. The reader Loves of his own, and raptures, swell the note. will doubtless be better pleased to examine
The bounding steed you pompously bestride,
Shares with his lord the pleasure and the pride. the subject farther for himself, than to have
Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain ? additional instances of the poetry of animals The birds of heaven shall vindicate their grain.
Thine the full harvest of the golden year ? placed before his view.
Part pays, and justly, the deserving steer.” It is sufficient to add, in continuation of this subject, that without allowing ourselves time and opportunity to study the nature and habits of animals, we can never really feel that they constitute an important part of the THE POETRY OF EVENING. world which we inhabit. We may read of them in books, and even be able to class ASCENDING in the scale of poetical interthem according to their names and the ge- est, the seasons might not improperly ocnera to which they belong, but they will not cupy the next place in our regard, had they enter into our hearts as members of the not already been especially the theme of one brotherhood of nature, claiming kindred of our ablest poets. To describe the feelings with ourselves, and entitled to our tender which the seasons in their constant revoluness and love. Those who have known this tions, are calculated to excite, would therefellowship in early life will never lose the re-fore only be to recapitulate the language membrance of it to their latest day, but will and insult the memory of Thomson. There continue to derive from it refreshment and is one circumstance, however, connected joy, even as they tread the weary paths that with this subject which demands a molead through the dark passage of a sordid ment's attention here. It is the preference and troubled existence. The difference be- for certain seasons of the year evinced by tween those who study nature for them- different persons, according to the tone or selves, and those who only read of it in temperament of their own minds. There books, is much the same as between those are many tests by which human character who travel, and those who make themselves may be tried. In answering the simple acquainted with the situation of different question, “which is your favourite season ?" countries upon a map. The mind of the tra- we often betray more than we are aware of veller is stored with associations of a moral at the time, of the nature of our own feelings and intellectual character, which no map and character. It is no stretch of imaginacan suggest; and he who occasionally re- tion to believe, certainly no misstatement of signs his soul to the genuine influence of fact to say, that the young and the innocent nature as it is seen and felt in the external (or the good, who resemble both) almost inworld, will lay up a rich store of deep and variably make choice of spring as their faprecious thought, to be referred to for amuse-vourite season of the year; while the natument and consolation through the whole of rally morbid and melancholy, or those who his after life.
have made themselves so by the misuse of Had Pope, our immortal poet, not culti- their best faculties, as invariably choose vated this intimate and familiar acquaint- autumn. Why so few make choice of sumance with the nature and habits of animals, mer is not easy to say, unless the oppressive he would never have thought them of suffi- sense of heat is too powerful in its influence cient importance to be made instrumental in upon the body to allow the mind to receive
any deeply pleasurable sensations, or be other man, the depth and the intensity of the cause during the summer there is such a
mind's worst malady, tells us thatconstant springing up of beauty, such an unceasing supply of vigour in the animal and
“ The glance of melancholy is a fearful gift;" vegetable world, that our ideas of spring are
and fearful indeed, is that insatiable approcarried on until the commencement of
priation to her own gloomy purposes with autumn. There are a still smaller number which melancholy endows her victims. of individuals who venture to say they love Fearful would it be to read and sinful to the dark days of winter, because, in order to write, how melancholy can distort the fairest find our greatest enjoyment in this season, picture, extract bitterness from all things we must possess a fund of almost uninter
sweet and lovely, darkness from light, and rupted domestic happiness, and few there anguish–unmitigable anguish—from what are who can boast of this inestimable blessfew indeed who, when thrown entirely bless.
was benificently intended to beautify and to upon the resources which their own hearts,
Each day, also, has its associations, so their own homes, or their own families af- nearly resembling those of the seasons, that ford, do not sometimes wish to escape, if only it will not be necessary to examine in their to enjoy the refreshment of green fields, free separate characters the natural divisions of air, and sunny skies. The good and the happy, the young and evening, as being universally allowed to be
morning, noon, evening, and night. But the innocent, whose hearts are full of hope, highly poetical, may justly claim a large find peculiar gratification in the rich pro- share of our attention. mise of spring, in the growth and perfection of plants, the rejoicing of the animal creation,
“ Now came still evening on, and twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad." and the renovated beauty of universal nature. There is within themselves a kind of These words occur immediately to every sympathy, by which they become a part of poetical mind on the first consideration of the harmonious whole, a grateful trust this solemn and lovely hour. Indeed, they which accords with this promise, a springing occur so familiarly, that, if it were possible up and growth of joyful expectation which they could lose their charm, it would already keeps pace with the general progress of the have been destroyed by frequency of repetinatural world, and echoes back a soul-felt re- tion. But these two lines contain within sponse to the voice which tells of happiness. themselves a volume of poetic feeling, that
How different in all, except their power will live imperishable and unimpaired, so over the feelings, are the sympathies which long as the human mind shall retain its are called forth by the contemplation of highest and purest conceptions of the nature autumn! The beauty or rather the bloom of real poetry. The very words have a of nature, is then passing away, and the resemblance to the general lull of nature gorgeous and splendid hues which not un- gently sinking into the silence of nightfrequently adorn the landscape remind us too “Now came still evening on;" “ twilight forcibly of that mournful hectic which is gray” presents us with more than a picture known to be a fatal precursor of decay. —with a feeling-a distinct perception of Every thing fades around us like our own thin shadows, and white mists gradually hopes; summer with her sprightliness has blending together; and the last line comleft us, like the friends of our youth; while pletely imbodies in a few simple words, our winter, cold winter, comes apace; alas! too ideas of the all-pervading influence of like the chilling prospect that lies before us evening, with its universally tranquillizing, in the path of life. Thus, imagination mul solemn and mysterious power. tiplies our gloomy associations, and renders The mystery of twilight is not the least autumn the season best beloved by the mor- charm it possesses to an imaginative and bid and cheerless, for very sympathy with poetic mind. From the earliest records of its tendency to fade.
intelligent beings, we learn that mystery He who knew, perhaps better than any | has ever been inconceivably powerful in its
the human mind. All false That excitement is uniformly the accomreligions have been built upon this founda- paniment of mystery, is owing to this cause; tion, and even the true has its mysteries, for mystery is not the subject of any one particwhich we reverence it the more. Those ular train of ideas, nor can it exclusively ocsubjects which excite the deepest veneration cupy the reasoning powers, for want of someand awe, strike us with an indefinite sense thing tangible to lay hold of ; but while the of something which we do not—which we senses or feelings are strongly affected by cannot, understand; and the throne of the that which is new, or strange, or fearful, or the monarch, by being veiled from vulgar eyes, magnificent, it opens a field in which all the is thus invested with a mystery to which it faculties of the mind, set at liberty from phyis greatly indebted for its support. Were sical restraint, may rush forth to expatiate all mankind clearly convinced of the inesti- or combat, without any one gaining the asmable value of true virtue, were they all cendency. Sometimes fear for a moment noble, generous, and devoted, and were all takes the lead, but the want of sufficient sovereigns immaculate, they might then go proof or fact to establish any definite cause forth amongst their people, defended only by of alarm, encourages hope; love peoples their own dignity, supported only by the the unfathomable void with creatures of affection and esteem of their subjects. But its own formation; or hate, revenge, and since we have learned in these degenerate malice wreak their fury upon they know times that kings are but men, and since not what; while imagination, the sovereign there are base natures abroad, ever ready queen of mystery, reigns supreme and unto lay hold of and expose the slightest proof disturbed over her own aerial realm. Thus of fallibility in their superiors, it is highly does mystery afford illimitable scope for necessary to the maintenance of regal ma- the perpetual activity and play of all the jesty, that the sovereign should be raised thoughts or passions of which we are capaabove the cognizance of vulgar penetration;ble. By allowing liberty of operation to all, that properly initiated members should con- the violence of each is neutralized, and hence stitute the court, within whose penetralia the power of mystery over the mind of man. the ignorant and common herd are not per- It may be argued, that mystery has often mitted to intrude; and that in order to give been the means of exciting the most violent the mandate which issues from the throne, passions, such as fear or superstition. Mysthe awful solemnity of an oracle, its irrevo- tery has unquestionably been made by artcable veto should be uttered unseen. ful men the means of exciting the curiosity,
It next becomes our business to inquire and arresting the attention of their deluded how mystery possesses this power to fasci- followers; and thus rendering them more nate the strongest mind, and to lead captive willing and servile recipients of false views, the most tumultuous passions.
or base desires. But in order that either Along with mystery, there is invariably fear or superstition should be excited to any some degree of excitement; and excitement, violent degree, it must have been necessary if we may judge by the general conduct to dissolve the veil of mystery, and reveal and pursuits of mankind, is, when not ex- distinctly some palpable object of dread, or tended so as to create a feeling of pain, a subject of mistaken worship. universally delightful sensation. In speak- But to return from this digression to the ing of a love of excitement, those who look more pleasing consideration of that delightgloomily upon human nature, are apt to ful hour of day, which brings to every creadescribe it as a defect; but would it not be ture the most powerful and indissoluble assomore philosophical, as well as more consis-ciations with what it loves best. tent with a grateful disposition, to regard
“ Home to the weary, to the hungry cheer, this principle as having been implanted in
To the young bird its mother's brooding wings." our nature to stimulate us to exertion, and to render the various occupations of life a Before the mystery of evening, if not in a succession of pleasing duties, rather than of higher degree, we are charmed with its reirksome toils ?
pose. The stillness that gradually steals over the creation extends to our own hearts. might have been forgotten. The evening Passion is lulled, and if we are not, we long melody of the birde, stealing gently upon the to be at rest.
humid air, and heard more distinctly than “I will return at the close of day,” says their noon-day song, calls up the image of the wanderer as he goes forth; and in some friend with whom we have listened to the evening we begin to listen for his wel that sound; nor can we pursue our wonted come, though weary step. “It is but an evening walk without being reminded by the other day of toil,” says the labourer as he very path, the trees, the flowers, and even brushes away the morning dew, “In the the atmosphere, of that familiar interchange evening I shall rest again;" and already his of thought and feeling, never enjoyed in such children are watching at the cottage door, perfection as at the close of day. But, and his wife is preparing his evening meal. above all other ideas connected with this All day the rebellious child has resisted the hour, we love the repose of evening. Every chastisements of love; but in the evening living creature is then sinking to rest, darkhis soul is subdued, and he weeps upon ness is stealing around us like a misty curhis mother's bosom. We can appease the tain, a dreamy languor subdues our harsher yearnings of the heart, and drive away re- feelings, and makes way for the flow of all flection-nay, we can live without sympathy, that is tender, affectionate, or refined. It is until evening steals around our path, and scarcely possible to muse upon this subject tells us with a voice which makes itself be without thinking of the return of the wanheard, that we are alone. In the freshness derer, the completion of labour, the folding of morning, and through all the stirring oc- of the weary wing, the closing of innocent cupations of busy noon, man can forget his eyes in peaceful slumber, the vesper hymn, Maker; but in the solemn evening hour he and the prayer or thanksgiving with which feels that he is standing in the presence of every day should be closed. his God. In the day-time we move on with How is it, that when there is so much the noisy multitude, in their quest of sordid even in external nature to remind ungrategain, or we wear without weariness or com- ful man of his duty, he should be backward plaint the gilded chains which bind down in offering that tribute which is due to the the soul, or we struggle against the tide of Author of all his blessings ? Is it so hard a time and circumstance, battling with straws, thing to be thankful for the bountiful sun, and spending our strength in fruitless war- when we see what a train of glory goes fare; but in the evening we long to find a path along with his departing light? For the where the flowers are not trampled down by gentle and refreshing dews which come many feet, to burst the degrading bonds of with timely nourishment to the dry and custom, and to think and feel more like im- drooping plants ? For those very plants, mortal beings; we see the small importance and their unspeakable utility and beauty ? of those contested points about which so ma- For all that the eye beholds of loveliness or ny parties are at war, and we become willing magnificence, or that the ear distinguishes to glide on with the stream, without fretting of harmony? But above all, for that unourselves about every weed or feather on its wearied sense of enjoyment with which it is surface; esteeming peace of mind and good possible for man to walk through the creawill towards men far before the desence of tion, rendering thanks to his Creator at any particular set of opinions, or even the every step. establishment of our own.
Far be it from the writer of these pages to Evening is the time for remembrance; for advocate the vain philosophy of past agesthe powers of the mind having been all day the vague notion long since discarded from in exercise, still retain their activity, and the rational world, that the contemplation being no longer engaged in necessary or of the grandeur, beauty, or even perfection worldly pursuits, branch out into innumera- of the universe, is sufficient of itself to lead ble associations, from things present and the heart to God. I speak of such contemvisible, to those which are unseen and re- plation as being the natural and suitable mote, and which but for such associations exercise of an immortal mind, and of the