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teresting phenomena as immediately influ- and vitality—the production of flowers and enced by an omnipotent hand, and advancing fruits—the source of streams—the planetary one step farther, penetrate within the veil, system-chemical agency-and the study of and find ourselves alone with God.
electricity, that mighty and mysterious powWith regard to the mere amusements of er, which operates through earth and air the country, it is very natural for townspeo- in a manner yet but partially understood, ple-such as are accustomed to games of though producing some of the most wonderskill and hazard—to dress-parties, plays, ful and sublime phenomena in nature. and concerts, to ask in what they can possi- Are these amusements of a kind to be bly consist. Let us in the first place observe neglected or contemned by a rational and ina group of children at play beneath the tellectual being ? Are they not rather such flowery hawthorn, their cheeks suffused with as we ought to seek every possible means the rosy hue of health, and their bright eyes of rendering familiar and attractive to the sparkling with that inward joy which natu- youthful mind? And surely there can be rally animates the infant mind. Nobody no means more likely than to retire somecan tell what they are playing at-they do times within the bosom of nature, where the not know themselves. They have no names development of Almighty power is obvious or set rules by which their gambols are re- above, around, and beneath us. strained; but when they start off from their But above almost all other peculiarities sequestered retreat, bounding over the grass belonging to a country life, I would place like young fawns, you see at once that that homefeeling which has the power it is the fresh air, the glowing health, and through the whole course of our lives to above all, the glorious liberty of the country bring back the wandering affections, and which constitutes their enjoyment. Then centre them in one point of space—one point they have an intimate and familiar acquaint- of importance, to a very limited portion of ance with every thing around them, with the community, but a portion consisting of the woods and the winding paths, the song our nearest and dearest connexions. In of the different birds, and the course of the towns there can be comparatively little of streams that come down from the hills. Up- this feeling. A man steps out of his door on all or most of these the seasons have con- immediately upon common ground. The siderable influence, and the welcome ap- house he lives in is precisely like his neighpearance of spring, the withering of autumn, bour's, one of a number which he returns to the heat of summer, and the winter's snow, without attachment, and leaves without rehave trains of association in the youthful gret. But in the country, not only the grass mind, which supply them with a perpetual we tread on, the paths, the trees, the birds source of amusement, blended with instruc- that sing above our heads, and the flowers tion. Added to which, they not unfrequent- that bloom beneath our feet, but the very ly have the care of domestic animals, and atmosphere around us, seem to be our own. feel almost as much interest in their fate as There is a feeling of possession in our fields, in that of their fellow-creatures. They soon our gardens, and our home, which nothing learn that their kindness allures, and that but a cruel separation can destroy; and their rebukes repel. This makes them ob- when absent, far away upon the deep sea, servant of the happiness and the misery of travelling in foreign lands, or driven from the creatures committed to their charge, and that home for ever, we pine to trace again lays the foundation of social and benevolent the familiar walks, and wonder whether the feelings, which continue with them through woods and the green lawn are looking the the rest of their lives. As the mind acquires same as when they received our last farestrength and begins to investigate, what a well. In the haunts of busy life, the music field of inquiry then lies before them—the of our native streams comes murmuring fall of the rains—the density of the atmos- again upon our ear; we pause beneath the phere-the gathering of clouds—the fertility cage of the prisoned bird, because its voice of the earth-the principles of vegetation | is the same as that which cheered our infan
cy; and we love the flowers of a distant deluge disappeared from the face of the country when they resemble those which earth-that the art of man is impotent bloomed in our own.
against the imperishable fabric upon which There are other wanderers besides those he rests that the ploughshare never has who stray through foreign realms-wander- been there—nor track of wandering beast, ers from the ways of God. Perchance we nor nest of soaring bird, nor hum of laden have spurned the restrictions of parental bee-nothing but the winds, the rolling authority, and cast away the early visita- clouds, the lightning and thunder, those tretions of a holier love; but the homefeeling mendous agents of eternal Power, before which neither change of place nor character whom the boasted sovereign of creation lies can banish from our bosoms, renews the trembling in the dust. memory of our social ties, and draws us What are his feelings when he reflects back to the deserted hearth. Along with that such as this new and mighty world that memory, associated with the soothing appears to him, such it will remain when he of affection which we have lived to want, and his, with their ambitious hopes and enand the wisdom of sage counsel which ex- vied honours, are buried and forgotten! perience has proved true, the tide of convic- These are sensations peculiar to the situation rushes in upon the burdened heart, and tion, which words are inadequate to describe. the prodigal rousing himself from the stupor | Too deep for utterance, too powerful for of despair, exclaims, “I will arise and go to language, they teach a wisdom more pro
found than is to be acquired in all the It is difficult for those whose hearts and schools of man's devise. I would ask again, homes are in the city, fully to appreciate the how the wanderer on the mountain's sumenjoyment arising from rural scenery ; but mit has looked back to the narrow sphere there are others whose homes are there, yet of social life which he has been wont to call whose hearts are not wholly absorbed in city the world ? Its laws, conventional but arbinews, and scenes, and customs. These
trary, by which his past conduct has been have probably, at some time or other of their influenced, what are they here? Scarcely lives, known what it was, not merely to more important than those which regulate make an excursion to Richmond, Hamp- the movements of a community of insects, stead, or Windsor, but to go far away into confined within the limits of a little mound the country, amongst the hills, and the val- of earth. Where now is the tremendous leys, where the rattling of wheels, or the and potent voice of public opinion, resoundcrack of the coachman's whip, was never ing in authoritative tones from house heard. What, let me ask, were their sensa- house, from heart to heart? Upon the tions, as they rose higher and higher up the mountain's brow, beneath the blue arch of side of the mountain, at every step taking in heaven, it is silent, lost, and forgotten. a wider view of the landscape, until it lay Where are the toils, the anxieties, the heartbeneath them like a garden, in which the aches, which consume the vitality of our exancient woods were fairy groves, and the istence, in the lower region of our sordid rivers threads of silver, now seen, now lost, and selfish avocations ? Already they have but never heard, even in their foods and assumed a different character; and, despisfalls, at that far height. What are the feeling the nothingness-the worse than noings of the traveller, when standing on the thingness of their ultimate end, he resolves topmast ridge, a mere speck in that stupen- to give them to the winds, and henceforth dous solitude, while the fresh breezes of an to live for some more exalted and noble unknown atmosphere sweep past him, and purpose. he muses upon the past, and feels the im- There is no danger that man should feel pressive truth, that not only the firm rock on himself too little, or his Maker too great. which he stands, but the surrounding hills, If there were, he would do well to confine with their beetling brows, and rugged pin- himself to a sphere, in which nothing is so nacles, and hollow caves, are the same as obvious as the operation of man's ingenuity on that great day when the waters of the and power. But since we are all too much
engaged in the strife, and the bustle, and or if from inclination, settle themselves at a the eagerness which is necessary to insure time of life when they are incapable of an average of material comforts; since indi- judging of the privileges peculiar to either, viduality of character is too much sacrificed it is not to be supposed that they will always to the arbitrary rules of polished life; since make the best use of the advantages around by associating exclusively with man in an them; and those which abound in great artificial state of being, the generous too number and variety in the country, certainly frequently become selfish, the gentle hard- add weight to the moral culpability of such ened, and the noble debased : it is good to individuals as live stupidly beneath the open shake off occasionally the unnatural bondage sky, in the midst of fields, and woods, and by which the aspiring spirit is kept down, gardens, without exhibiting more mental to go forth into the woods and the wilds, energy than is displayed by their own flocks and to feel, though but for a day or an hour, and herds. that man was born for something better After remarking with regret upon the than to be the slave of his own bodily wants. inertness and apathy of disposition too obEach time that we experience this real in- vious in the country, we must in common dependence of mind, we ascend one step | justice observe, that where there does exist higher in the scale of moral existence; and sufficient mental energy for the display of if circumstance or dire necessity should pre- peculiar traits of character, such traits have vent the frequent recurrence of such feel- a degree of strength and originality seldom ings, we may at least secure a solid and found amongst the inhabitants of the city, lasting good, by learning in this way to where social institutions have a tendency to appreciate the mental elevation of others.
bring individuals together upon common I am not, even on this subject, so blind an terms, and thus to render them more like enthusiast, as to attempt to support my ar- each other; and where the frequent contact gument in favour of rural life on the ground of beings similarly circumstanced rubs off of the greater appearance of vice in the their eccentricities, and wears them down town than in the country; because I am to the level of ordinary men. one of those who believe that the vacancy The friendships and acquaintances of the of mind, the gross bodily existence, the country are formed upon a system essentially moral apathy, which too frequently prevail different from that which holds society toamongst persons who lead an isolated life, gether in more compact and congregated are quite as much at variance with the
The ordinary style of visiting in Divine law, as vices which are more obvious, towns does little towards making people acand which consequently fall under the cogni- quainted with each other. Commonplace zance of human statutes. If amongst con- remarks upon general topics-remarks which gregated multitudes we are shocked to find so derive no distinctive character from the lips much of riotous indulgence, treachery, out- which utter them, fill up the weary hours rage, and crime of every description, we are, of each succeeding visit; while the same on the other hand, cheered with the earnest education, and the same style of living, are zeal, the perseverance, the disinterestedness, observable in every different set, of which which are brought into exercise to counter- each individual is but a part-separate but act these evils. While in the country, not distinct. But in the country, where peowhere men sit still and wonder alike at both ple meet more casually, and with less of extremes, the average of moral good is cer
common purpose and feeling, where they tainly not higher, because vice being less often spend a considerable time together obvious, the fear of its fatal consequences under the same roof, thrown entirely upon does not stimulate to those meritorious ex- their own resources, and unacquainted with ertions which proceed from true Christian any general or prevailing topic of conversalove. The country may be abused as well tion, they necessarily become more intias the town; and since the inhabitants of mately acquainted with each other's natural both, for the most part, fall into their stations character, with their individual bias of disfrom circumstances rather than inclination, position, and peculiar trains of thought.
Dwelling apart from the tide of public may appear almost too homely and commonopinion, they know nothing of its influence place to be admitted under the character of or power, and having established their own poetical; but in their relation to the social opinions, formed for themselves from their affections, and to the principles of happiness personal observation, their sentiments and re- —that happiness which is rational, intellecmarks are characterised by their originality, tual, and moral, they are in themselves and their affections by their depth. They highly poetical, and must often be recurred are in fact, though less polished, less artifi- to with tenderness and interest; at the same cial, and less learned in mere facts than time that they supply the bard with subjects their brethren and sisters of the city, infi- of pathos and pictures of delight. nitely more poetical, because their expres- Perhaps it may better please the fanciful sions convey more meaning, their sentiments reader to turn to themes of a more imaginare more genuine, and their feelings more ary and unsubstantial nature, of which we fresh from the heart.
find an endless variety in the associations In speaking of the intimate knowledge of afforded by rural habits, pursuits, and scenes. individual character which rural life affords We have observed in the former part of this abundant opportunities of obtaining, we work, that scarcely a beast, a bird, a tree, must not omit to mention the sum of happi- a flower, or any other visible object exists, ness derived from this knowledge when it ex- without an ideal as well as a real character; tends amongst our domestics, labourers, and but we have not yet entered upon that redependent poor. The master of a family in gion of poetic thought which is peopled with the country resembles a little feudal lord, and the imaginary beings of heathen superstiif he makes a generous use of his authority, tion, and which to the mind that is deeply may be served as faithfully, and obeyed as impressed with the beautiful imagery of implicitly through love, as any old English classic lore, is perpetually associated with rubaron ever was through fear. The agricul- ral scenery. No sooner are the gates of fantural labourer becomes attached to the soil cy opened for the admission of these ethereal which he cultivates. He feels as if he had beings, than we behold them gliding in upon a property in the fields of his master, and our favorite haunts, now floating upon the this feeling extends not only to the produce sea of air, dancing in the sunbeams, or reof his toil, but, through many links of natural posing upon beds of violets; and then rushconnection, to the interest of his master and ing forth upon the destructive elements, the general good of his family; while on the riding on the crested waves, or directing the other hand, his own wants and afflictions, bolts of death. and those of his wife and children, are made Wandering in our fields and gardens, known through the kind visitations of charity, Flora, with har ever-blooming cheek and and soothed and relieved, with a familiarity coronet of unfading flowers, becomes our and unison of feeling which goes almost as sweet companion, while with her ambrosial far as almsgiving towards alleviating the pencil
, dipped in the hues of heaven, she distresses of the poor. There can be no dis- tints the velvet leaves of the rose, scatters trust between families that have dwelt to- perfume over the snowy bosom of the lily, gether upon the same soil, in the mutual re- or turns in playful tenderness to meet the lation of master and servant, from genera- | smiles of her wayward and wandering lover, tion to generation. Both parties are inti- the sportive and uncertain Zephyrus. We mately acquainted with the characters they penetrate into the depth of the forest, and have to deal with, and each esteeming the the vestal Huntress flits across our path with other's worth, can look upon their little her attendant nymphs. While seated under peculiarities with kindness, and even with the cool shadow of the leafy trees, or stoopaffection; while the mutual confidence, good ing over the margin of the crystal stream, will, and clear understanding which subsist the Dryads bind their flowing hair. The between them, constitute a sure foundation harvest smiles before us with the glad profor substantial and lasting comfort.
mise of the waning year, and joyfully the yelThese advantages, peculiar to rural life, I low grain is gathered in; but we see the
deity of rural plenty, with her unextinguish- There is scarcely any human being so able torch and crown of golden ears, wan- selfish as to wish to feed upon joy alone; dering from field to field, heart-stricken, and and what a privilege it is, separated from alone; too mortal in her sufferings—too those who could rejoice with us, that we can desolate in her divinity. We hail the purple share our happiness with nature! The soarmorning, Aurora rises in her rosy car, driv- ing lark, the bounding deer, and the sportive ing her snowy steeds over the cloud-capped lamb, animated with a joy like ours, become mountains, separating the hills from their our brethren and our sisters; while the misty canopy, and scattering flowers and dew same light buoyant spirit that fills our boover her fresh untrodden pathway through soms, smiles upon us from the shining heathe verdant valleys. We turn to the glori- vens, glows beneath us in the fruitful earth, ous sun as he rises from his couch of golden or whispers around us in the fresh glad gales waves, and ask the inspiration of Apollo for of spring. But, under the pressure of grief, the verse or for the lyre. We sail upon the this sympathy is most perceptible and most ruifled sea, where the Nereides, sporting availing, because sorrow has a greater tenwith the dolphins, lave their shining hair; dency than joy to excite the imagination, or where Neptune, striking his trident on the and thus it multiplies its own associations by foaming waters, bids the deep be still. We identifying itself with every thing that wears hear the bellowing of the stormy blast, and the slightest shadow of gloom. call on Æolus to spare us; or we listen to
I will not say that the world in general is the thunder as it rolls above our heads, echo- more productive of images of sadness than ing from shore to shore, and tremble lest the of pleasure; but from the misuse of our own forked lightning should burst forth from the faculties, and the consequent tendency of sovereign hand of Jove.
our own minds, we are more apt to look for Fanciful as these associations are, (almost such amongst the objects around us; and too fanciful to afford us any real enjoyment) thus in our daily observation, passing over they unquestionably supply the poet with what is lovely, and genial, and benign, we images of beauty not to be found in real fix our minds upon the desolating floods, the life; and they have also an important claim anticipated storm, the early blight, the canupon our consideration, from the place they kered blossom, the faded leaf, the broken occupy both in ancient and modern litera- bough, or the premature decay of autumn ture; as well as from the effect which this fruit. This, however, is no fault of nature's, system of imperfect and dangerous theology but our own; nor does it prove anything produced, in promoting the refinements of against the argument, that, whether happy art, and softening the habits and feelings of or miserable, we may find a responding a barbarous people.
voice in nature, to echo back our gladness, It is pleasant to turn from such visionary and to answer to our sighs ; that every feelsources of gratification to those which are ing of which we are capable, in its purest more tangible and true—to the smypathy and least vitiated state, may meet with similiwhich every feeling mind believes it possi- tude, and companionship, and association in ble to experience in nature. There is no the natural world; and above all, that he state of feeling to which we may not find who desires to rise out of the low cares of something in the elements, or in the natural artificial life, whose soul aspires above the world, so nearly corresponding, as to give us gross elements of mere bodily existence, and the idea of companionship in our joys and whose highest ambition is to render up that sorrows. True, it would be more congenial soul, purified rather than polluted, may find to our wishes, could we find this companion- in nature a Congenial, faithful, and untiring ship amongst our fellow-creatures; but who friend. has not asked for it in vain ? and turning to I cannot better conclude these remarks, the woods, and the winds, and the blue skies, than by quoting a passage from the writings has not believed for a moment there was of one, who possessed the enviable art of more sympathy in them than in the heart of combining science with sublimity, and philo
sophy with poetic feeling.