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still hears the tread of the noisy dance-the The mariner at midnight on the deep sea, music-the glad voices—and she feels what looks forth when other eyes are sleeping, no heart is capable of feeling without a pang, towards the bright opening in the eastern that her presence is not necessary to the en- clouds, where the pale lustre of the rising joyment of her reputed friends, and that moon gives welcome promise of her blessed when her head is laid within the grave they visitation. Soon her full round orb appears will still dance on, without being conscious in all its splendour, and the dark vapours that one familiar step is wanting in their float away, or, gliding gently past her merriment. Her soul is oppressed. She looks beaming face, receive the soft reflection of out beneath the high blue silent heavens, her smile, before they pass into the undistinand the moon is there to welcome her as guishable chaos of night. High into the with a sister's smile. It is to the moon alone azure heavens she now ascends, while the that all human beings can appeal with an lonely helmsman chants to the heedless gale inward sense of sympathy; and to the moon the songs of his native land. He gazes at last she ventures to utter that complaint, upon the wide expanse of heaving water, which no ear has ever heard. “It was not and ever as his eye dwells upon that silvery thus !” the melancholy strain begins, but track of light that seems to lure him away tears—true, unaffected tears are rising, and to another world, recollections which the she looks down upon the clustering jessa- bustle of the day keeps down, and thoughts mine, whose delicate stars gleam out in the dear as the miser's hoarded treasure, rise moonbeams, and send forth their odorous within his breast, fresh and spontaneous; perfumes upon the gales of night. It was and he thinks how the same moon shone not thus that she, that splendid mourner, upon the woodbine bower where he first weary with the weight of her own diamonds, wooed the village maid, who blushed in her and sick of the selfishness of her own chosen innocent joy, and inwardly exulted in the friends, looked up to the face of the pale short-lived happiness of being a sailor's moon, in those hours when the moon looks bride. Has he not seen that bower again? fairest—those happy hours when even she, Yes, and the woodbine was still lovely, but the false one, was beloved. Her memory, his bride had lost her maiden bloom, and the only faculty which she has not been able the cares of a lonely and almost widowed to pervert, returns to the bright season of wife had made her prematurely old. Again sincerity and youth. Again she is walking he has returned to that well-known spotby the side of one whom worlds could not that haven of his dearest hopes and the have tempted to violate her confidence, or babe that should have welcomed him with wound her love-one who was deserted for the kind name of father, was sleeping bea worthless rival, in his turn to be cast off neath a little grassy mound in the churchfor another, and then a third, and so on, yard, while he had been far away in its until the world at last became the only can-hour of agony, and its last cry had been undidate for her affections, the only ruler of heard by him. Once more he has returned her heart. “It was not thus !" she exclaims, to his deserted home. The mother too was “that I was wont to look upon the moon. gone to her place of rest, and two humble Oh! give me back the loves, the friendships graves side by side were all the memorial of my early days. Restore the capability that remained of his domestic happiness. of trusting, even though I should still be de- What then? Does he wish that his marceived! Awaken in my soul the faculty of riage day had never dawned? would he hope, though I should be disappointed still ! extinguish the memory of the past? No, Rekindle my affections, that I may feel the though amidst the stir of the busy day, or possibility of loving, though I should never amongst his jovial comrades he thinks little be beloved again! Let me hear once more of his wife and child, yet in the solitude of the voice of kindness, though it should be the night watches when the moon is above strange to mine ear! Let me listen to the his head, and no sound is to be heard but language of truth, though it should condemn the ripple of the water against the vessel's the whole of my past life !"
side, he blesses that mild and gentle remembrancer, that she visits him in his loneliness, upon his homely meal, blessing the cup of to tell him those tales of tenderness to which which he drinks, and lighting the parents' his ear has become strange, and to open in way, as they seek the couch of their slumhis bold and hardy bosom those sweet bering cherubs to ask a blessing for the fountains of human love which transform coming day, to return thanks for the past, the character of the rude sailor into that and then to enjoy the refreshment of peaceof the avenger of the injured, the father ful and untroubled sleep; over the waste of the orphan, and the protector of the help- unpeopled desert, the rich and fertile fields less.
which surround the habitations of men, the Thus ever sweet and pleasant to the tempest-troubled ocean, or the hive of human watchful eyes of the wayfaring man, is the industry, it is the same moon that meets the moon as she rises from her throne of clouds. traveller's anxious gaze, and ever on his He turns to gaze upon that welcome face, lonely and distant course he feels it to be and thinks how many well-known and fa- the same whose rays are interwoven with miliar looks are directed to the same object. the thread of his early existence. Perchance he has been a wanderer through Yes, it is the same moon whose silver many lands, a voyager over the deep seas, crescent was hung in the blue heavens when a pilgrim of the world; yet ever on his the first night shadowed the infant world wayward course, the same mild moon has with its mighty and mysterious wing. It is been like a faithful and untiring friend, the same moon that rocks the restless tides speaking to him amongst a strange people from shore to shore, with a monotony of moin the native language of his heart, and tion that marks out the different epochs in the telling through the lonely night, sweet life of man, and over-rules his most momentidings of his wished-for home. Whether tous actions with a power which he is unaamid snow covered hills, through the frozen ble either to baffle or subdue. It is the same wilderness, along the skirts of the pine moon for the mystic celebration of whose forest, far, far away, she guides the solitary metamorphoses, the king of Israel erected an Laplander ? or, in more sultry climes looks edifice, the most splendid that human indown through the foliage of the waving genuity could invent, or human labour conpalm tree, and glances over the bright sur- struct. It is the same moon for the visiface of the welcome waters, where the ble completion of whose perfect radiance, Indian laves his burning feet: whether high the Spartans, while yet their souls were above the tower, the minaret, or state fired with the noblest ambition, sacrificed dome, she looks down, a silent and unmoved their share of glory in the memorable field spectator, upon the thickly-peopled city, the of Marathon. It is the same moon which perpetual stir, the hurry and the rush of busy inspires the most ecstatic dreams of the enlife; or far away in the silence and solitude thusiast, giving to his earth-born visions, a of some lone isle of the ocean, touching refinenient and sublimity, which belong only with her sparkling radiance the leaves and to that imaginative realm, over which the blossoms of that nameless and uncultured queen of night presides. It is the same garden, and the rippling waves that rise moon upon which the eyes of countless and fall, and lull themselves to rest upon myriads are nightly gazing, but which never that unknown shore: whether through the yet inspired one unholy thought, awakened richly curtained window of the palace, her one mean or sordid feeling, or called forth modest light steals gently in, and gliding one passion inimical to the maintenance of over the marble floor, or along the tapestried “peace on earth and goodwill towards men.” walls, rest in its silence and purity upon the It is the same moon which personifies in her crimson canopy of kings; or where the cot- refulgent orb that bright link of spiritual tage of the herdsman stands upon the lone connection between this troubled life, and one moor, silvers the mossy turf beside his door, that is without anxiety, and without tears; covering the grey thatch of the mouldering hanging her single lamp of ineffable radiance roof with her garment of beauty, and look- above our nightly slumbers, like a beacon of ing in with her quiet and approving smile hope to lure us to a better land—returning
again, and again to thiş earthly sphere, to It is unnecessary to state, that happiness, warn us of the danger of delay, to cherish in one shape or another, is the great end we our heavenward aspirations, and to teach us have in view, in all our pursuits and avocathat there is a love, (Oh! how unlike the tions; whether that happiness consists in love of man !) as constant and untiring in its amassing or expending money; in our perfaithfulness, as slow to avenge disobedience sonal and sensual gratifications, or in the and neglect.
aggrandisement of others; in maintaining the station to which, by birth or education, we have become attached, or in raising our
selves to a higher scale of society; in obtainTHE POETRY OF RURAL LIFE. ing and securing to ourselves the refine
ments and luxuries of life, or in cultivating Before entirely quitting the fascinating the mental powers; in looking far and deep, employment of tracing out the poetical asso- both into the visible and the intellectual ciations of particular objects in nature, it is world, for those principles of consistency, necessary to add a few remarks upon the beauty, and harmony, which owe their deeffect produced upon the mind by rural velopment to an almighty hand; and in scenery in general.
recognising the work of that hand in every The great difficulty in the task I have un- thing around and within us, from the simdertaken, a difficulty which presents itself plest object of sense, to the most sublime and most strikingly at this stage of the work, is majestic source of contemplation. to avoid the folly of being too sentimental, The question is not, under which of these or rather to escape the charge of wishing to forms mankind is most addicted to look for lead the mind away from what is substan- happiness, but under which of these forms tially useful, to that which is merely vision- the happiness there in found, is likely to be ary. If the major part of society in the most conducive to the cultivation and refinepresent day consisted of love-stricken poets ment of that part of his nature which is comand languishing girls, mine would indeed bemitted to him as a sacred trust, and will a scheme unnecessary and in devised; but have to be rendered up, either elevated or as the tendency of our present system of ed- debased, for eternity. I know that poetry ucation, our conversation, habits, and modes is not religion; and that a man may dwell of thinking, is towards the direct opposite of in a region of poetical ideas, yet far from his sentimentality, we may fairly presume, that God: but we learn from the Holy Scripin the opinion of all candid and competent tures, whose whole language is that of poejudges, this work will be considered harm- try, as well as by the slightest experimental less, to say the least of it; and that the wri- knowledge of the subject, thar poetry may ter will have due credit given for an earnest be intimately associated with religion, and endeavor to assist in rescuing the spirit of that, so far from weakening its practical inpoesy from the oppression of vulgar tyran- fluence, it may be woven in with our familiar ny, and in guarding the temple of the muses duties, so as to beautify what would otherfrom the profanations of avarice and dis- wise be repulsive, to sweeten what is bitter, cord.
and to elevate what we have been accusThe character of the cultivated portion of tomed to regard as mean or degraded. the present race of mankind is too practical, It is not thus with sordid or artificial life. too bustling, too commercial, I might almost Poetry neither can, nor will dwell there. say, too material, to admit of the least ap- The atmosphere is too dense, and those who prehension that ideas should be brought to inhale it acquire a taste for its impurities, stand in the place of facts, that learning upon the same principle as that on which should be superseded by sensibility, or that the victim of habits more gross and vicious vague notions about the essences of things learns to love the odour of the deleterious should be preferred to a just and circum- bowl, because it is associated with the gratistantial knowledge of the actual substances fication of his brutal appetites. of those things themselves.
I am far from wishing that all men were poets; or that the practical and necessary poet of eminence in his art, and but few inrules of education, should give place to the tellectual characters remarkable for the best lawless vagaries of fancy, or the impulse of use of the highest endowments, ever lived, feelings uncontrolled: but I do wish that who had not at some time or other of their these rules and the attention they require, lives, studied nature for U.emselves, imbibed did not occupy the whole season of youth, strong impressions from their own observawithout leaving time then to feel that they tion of the external world, and from these
are essential. I do wish that men and wo- impressions drawn conclusions of the utmost men too, would sometimes pause in their importance to society at large. hurry after mere verbal knowledge, to think He whose mind is once deeply imbued for themselves; and turn away occasionally with poetic feeling, may afterwards enter from the pile of fresh books which every day into the ordinary concerns of life, and even sees placed before them, to study that which engage in the active commerce of the world, never was, and never can be written—the without losing his elevated character. It is wide field of nature; not only as it lies spread only when substituted for common sense, before their actual view, but as it expands in that poetic feeling can be absurd or contheir own minds, teaching them by the temptible. Blended with our domestic ocgradual unfolding of the eternal principles cupations, its office is to soften, harmonize, of truth, that we have faculties of the heart, and refine; and carried along with us as well as of the head, and that we must through the more conspicuous duties of hereafter render an account of a moral as social and public life, it is well calculated to well as of an intellectual nature.
remind us, that there is a higher ambition How far my impressions in favor of a than that of accumulating wealth, and that country life, may arise from early habit and we have capabilities for intellectual happiassociation, I am not prepared to say; and ness, which may be freely and fully exerI must be candid enough to grant, that the cised without interference with our worldly state of society in remote and isolated dis- interests. tricts, does not present an aspect at all calcu- It is not then by merely dwelling in the lated to support the idea that our moral facul- country, that men become poetical ; nor by ties are improved in proportion to the means working their way by fair and honourable we enjoy of cultivating an acquaintance means, to pecuniary independence, that they with external nature; but the fact that this necessarily sacrifice the best part of their opportunity alone is insufficient to produce nature: though it must be confessed, that the effect, by no means proves, that in con- the ordinary routine of city life, as it is genejunction with other advantages it is not pow- rally conducted, has a tendency to extinerfully conducive to the end desired. In the guish, rather than excite poetic genius. The country, man may be as brutish, as stultified, principal reason why it does this, is obvious and as incapable of every gentle or sublime to the candid observer. The mind as well emotion, as in the city he may be gross, sel as the body is always in need of food, and fish and insensible to the happiness and this necessity it naturally prefers to supply, misery of others: but it is no more the fault with the least possible expense of pain or of nature when the eye has not been opened labour. If facts of great number and variety to behold her beauties, than it is the fault of are continually set before us, little attention the musician when his auditors are without will be paid to principles; because facts can
the sense of hearing. I speak of the enjoy- be received with no exertion, while princiment which nature is capable of affording, ples must be investigated and examined, to not of that which it necessarily forces upon be in any degree understood. In towns, the man, whether he looks for it or not; nor news of the day is eagerly inquired aster, does the fact, that remote dwellers in the and public journals, travellers, and frequent country have amongst themselves a very meetings, furnish for the general demand a low standard of intellectual merit, prove any constant supply of facts; while in the counthing against my argument; since I believe try even facts have often to be sought for it may be asserted with confidence, that no with considerable labour and industry, and
can only be enjoyed, with long intervals be- the glory of the earth, for reasons which tween every fresh accession of intelligence. neither you nor we can understand; and Thus a real energetic mind, learns to con- that man, when he boasts too proudly of his nect an immense number of ideas, with the superiority in the creation, forgets that in few facts which do transpire in the country; the most malignant and injurious attribute but a mind of quiet and lethargic character, of the brute he is at least his equal. sinks into nothingness, and one of still lower And then our returning swallows, our grade, active only for loose or malicious seedtime, and harvest, our rains and thunpurposes,
the void in social commu- der storms, of which you think so little; why nion, with inferences falsely drawn, uncharit- they supply us with inexhaustible food for able inuendos ingeniously thrown out, and deep anxiety, earnest calculation, ardent conclusions too frequently both injurious and hope, and trembling fear; and sometimes unjust.
with gratitude as warm as if the success I have said that a great deal may be made which crowned our labours, was visibly and of the few facts which do transpire in the palpably bestowed immediately by the hand country. “Impossible !” exclaims the pre- of the Giver of all good. We hail the birds cocious youth, learned alone in civic lore. of spring, as the•blessed messengers of hope “ You only hear the news once a week, and -the seed is scattered in faith-the harvest as to your facts, what are they? The re- is reaped in joy—the rains descend, and we turn of the swallow, seedtime, and harvest, give thanks for the opening of those founa shower of rain, or a thunder storm; and tains, whose source, and whose seal is above what is all this to the community at large ?" |—the thunders roll, and we bow before the I answer, it is a great deal to those indivi- terrors of the Almighty. duals who choose to reflect. It is true we Man may, unquestionably, enjoy the same are sometimes a week later than you, in sensations in the city. Surrounded by the learning what have been the movements of work of human hands, he may look up and a certain foreign army, that a cabinet minis- bless the power which bestowed such faculter has been dismissed, and that an elope- ties and means upon his creatures; but it ment has taken place in high life. There is a fact which few will pretend to deny, are even facts similar to these, which occur that the more the mind is interested and ocwithout ever reaching us at all, which is a cupied with artificial things, the more it is proof that they are of as little importance to carried away from the truth that is in nature; us, as the building of our rooks, the scatter- and the greater the number of objects which ing of our grain, or the reaping of our corn intervene between us and the great First to you. You snatch up the Morning Post, Cause of all, the less fixed and reverential and read of this interesting elopement; we are our views of heaven. We know by realearn with as much interest that the kite has soning that God is no more present in the seized our favourite dove. You read that a rolling thunder than in the social meeting, once popular statesman has been over- or the secret thought; but our impressions thrown, by the strength of opposing party; are often stronger and deeper than our reawe hear that a former servant of our own, soning: and when we stand alone in the sihas been dismissed from his place. You lent night, and look up to the starry heavens ; read of the dismemberment of Poland ; we when we watch the play of the lightning, or are startled with the intelligence, a few listen to the roaring blast; when we gaze hours earlier, that the fox has been making upon the wide expanse of heaving ocean, or dreadful ravages amongst our poultry on the peaceful bosom of the lake, slumberWhat follows? Our conclusions are at ing in its mountain cradle at the feet of its least as philosophical as yours, and if you majestic guardians, whose brows are in the take time to reflect, it is most probable they sky, mantled with clouds, or crowned with will both amount to this—that the weak golden glory; when we watch the silvery must be the victims of the strong, all the fall of summer's evening dew, the sunset world over; that propensities to rapine, in the west, or the moon's uprising over the cruelty, and wrong, are permitted to deface I eastern hills, we naturally look upon these in