Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]

Full well I mind'the morn, when wrapt For he, in quest of happiness, had sought in thought,

Full many a Highland strath and Slow jogging on his sleek and favourite Lowland vale, Grey,

Till kindly chance the gentle stranger At our town end, his road Dunfillan

brought sought,

Into the fairy lap of Niddesdale. And I, a barefoot younker, show'd the

Ile saw her chiefs, all men of chosen way.

mould, We cross'd the brcok that leaves Glen. Smoothing, with skilful hand, lice's gowan wood,

weary way; In purling pride, to ramble on the lea; And dwelling on the lands their sires of And oft his gallant riding geer I view'd,

old And marvellld who the stranger man

Wrung from the spoiler's grasp, in could be.

bloody fray Weclimb'd the hill wherethe delighted eye

He saw her daughters dear, by brook and Unwearied roves, on Nith's romantic

burn, vale ;

On busy harvest field and bloomy lawn, Whose meadows green, and cultur'd fields

Fair as the new-Woke sun, on May day outvie

morn, The richest sylvan scene of fairy tale.

Combing his ringlets on the early dawn. Bright from his woody haunt, the river fair,

He saw her ruddy sons, a hardy race,

Tenant and cottar, artizan and hind, In liquid wreathes of glittering silver rollid,

All blithely busied in their proper place, Laving his pebbled shores with bosom

Of goodly growth, and comely of their

kind. bare, Through pasture grounds, and fields of And he beheld, with looks of lively joy, waving gold.

What lifteth up the goodman's heart to The homes of affluence, and rural ease ;

find, The smoaking hamlets freely scatter'd

Religion shedding round, benignantly,

The light of life on high and humble round;

mind. The distant spires of graceful gay Dum. frics,

Charm'd with the fair, the fascinating Lifting her loyal head from `classic

scene, ground.

Dunsillan's homely hall the stranger

rear'd, The Solway, plow'd by many a busy keel, Lashing his craggy sides with foamy

And garden gay and smiling woodland

green, spray,

Around his happy dwelling-place apWhere barks on oozy couch the timid seal; Where clam'rous sea-fowl scream, and

pear'd. mermaids play.

Full of the good resolve, the wise design,

Each earthly joy with grateful hand to The sportsman beating round with cau


Let moderation all his aims confine, The spaniel leaping from the ripening

And end his life in philosophic ease. The milk - maid's lilt, the woodland Soon was the open-hearted stranger nymph's reply,

known, Sweetly responsive to the harvest horn, From tongue to tongue his name was

lauded round, Burst on the wondering stranger's eye and

And soon to all the dale familiar grown, ear, In all the charms of fascinating pow'r;

At Brakenfell an open door he found. As mute he stood, amidst the joyous Dunfillan Hall! I often tread thy floor, cheer,

When wakeful Memory takes her faThe heav'nly harmony, of brake and

vourite roundbow'r. Awhile, with rambling eye, he gaz'd a- The Douglases, Maxwells, Kirkpa. round

tricks, Fergusons, and Riddels, all lineal On sylvan scenery lauded far and wide; dscendants of the Brucean Heroes, are “ My heart,” quoth he," a resting-place prominent characters in Nithsdale, and hath found

many of them still retain the possessions In this fair land, and here will I abide." of their brave forefathers.

tious eye


Dunfllan Hall! I seek thine open door, Wake in their graves the men whose love When every sense in dreamy sleep is I priz'd, drown'd.

Shake their cold hands, and commune

with the dead. Thus are the fondly-cherished moments of my mind put in array, In this state of mental absorption, when worldly anxieties oppress me, am I now enjoying a convivial hour And time's majestic stream is backward

with men and women, long since garollid

thered to their fathers. I hear my With mighty sweep, like Jordan's food favourite song, Gude night and joy be of old,

wi' ye a', sweetly lilted,--I see the

countenances of my friends powerfulin order that they may all appear, ly operated upon by the singer's mehale and healthy, in their proper lody,--and my heart feels its influplace.

ence; but they seem as though their The man of sorrow, whom mental hour was come. distress hath sunk in the Slough of Despond, and the child of misfortune, Why from the ring so hastily arise, whom weakness persuadeth to seek

And upward list, my friends, your beam

ing eyes? for temporary solace at the tavern,

The embers on the hearth are glowing would do well to follow my example,

still, and call upon the mind to become its The lamp of heaven is lingering on the own physician. Nothing more is re- hill. quisite, than the ideal presence of a Nor wakes the lark, her matin song to fer well-beloved objects whom re

sing, membrance esteems; and pitiful in- Nor hath the warning heath-cock Alapt deed is he who possesseth not a single his wing; recollection worthy of being para- Yet on my sight your fading forms decay, phrased. It is my daily practice, Like shapeless shadows ye dissolve away, and I care not who knows it, to And leave me sad of heart, and lonesome sweeten the goblets of bitterness that here, fall to my share, with the remem

A solitary shade in desart drear, brance of past enjoyment, from sun

To brood o'er scenes enjoy'd, and pass'd rise even until sun-set.


And mourn for you, whose love woke And when the weary hours, in rosied air, with my natal day. Flap their broad dusky wings, and speed away,

Fain would mine ear uncloy'd attention

lend, Leaving the mind loose from the yoke of

A little longer, to their minstrelsie, care,

And cheerfully my willing heart attend, At large in Fancy's wilderness to stray:

To what, like sea-maid's song, delightThen wakes my soul-then passeth in re

eth me. view Each boyish pastime and endearing But, lo! the curtain falls, and Fancy's

dreams scene ; Again the foot-ball freely I pursue,

Depart, like sailing vapour from my

view, And strip for Scotland • on Balachangreen;

And fading fast the phantom scenery Glide down the giddy dance on trysting Swimming like mist upon the mounnight,

tain's brow. Blithen with comic tale the jocund hearth,

Cone are the dwellers of the hollow Or, haply, wing my drear ideal flight,

tombs, Far from the dwelling-place of social

Fled are the living men afar from me, mirth ;

And haply holding, in their joyous homes,

Heart-cheering converse in reality. And by the wild, the vent'rous Muse enticed,

Pure be their mirth, and chaste their reLightly on consecrated ground I tread;

velry, Fair as the heaving snow on beauty's

breast, Alluding to the well-known game of Each blithsome evening of festivity, England and Scotland, so much in vogue Though of the mental cheer my soul amongst our Nithsdale younkers.

will never taste.!




Maid of the snowy, band and raven hair, all the rest of the army being hushed Lass of mine early love, draw near to and silent: and musing with himself, me;

and very thoughtful, he saw a terriNor wight unworthy of thy virgin care, ble and strange apparition, of a prodiWith guile be-sprinkled tongue be. gious and frightful body, coming toseecheth thee.

wards him, without speaking. BruThe heart alive to symphony have I, tus boldly asked it, 'What art thou? The soul that sought thy loveliness to -man, or God ?-and upon what ken,

business dost thou come to us?'-When first thou smiled on me, a ruddy The spirit answered, I am thy boy,

evil genius, Brutus; thou shall see Strolling about the solitary glen ;

me again at Philippi.' Chasing the grasshopper from blade to How strangely are our feelings blade,

affected by trivial circumstances ! Feasting on berries wild, the briars a. When I read this passage an hour mong;

ago, the setting sun shone bright Or, pensive, pausing on the greenwood and cheerful. Those trees were glade,

curled by a gentle-stirring breeze,And listening to the throstle's vesper that field was gay with the bustle song.

of the reapers,-and a vessel was Thou, heavenly maid ! with that white beating into yonder broad estuary, hand of thine,

with her white sails glittering in the Pillow my head, and hush me to repose, sun. I read it with a half contempAnd with a fondling Seraph smile benign, tuous smile, and wondered that the Mine eyes in slumbers sound serenely great mind of Brutus should have close.

thus yielded to the visions of a heatFar on the moor the lamp of heaven ed imagination. But now alone, in glows,

this solemn stillness, under this faint And cairn, and cleugh, and reedy lake and tremulous light, I feel less conillumes,

fidently sceptical. A half-lurking And every haunt the wary heath-cock belief begins to creep into my mind. knows,

I recall the tales of all ages and naEre he alights amongst the purple tions, the consent of the ignorant blooms;

and enlightened, the wicked and the And cowers his lonely head beneath good ; and feel that I cannot now his shining plumes.

smile with such confidence at this singular story. Is it possible, then,

that the mere absence or presence SPIRITUALITIES-A REVERIE. of light can effect so important a I am sitting at my window, in the change ? and shall I say that Reason twilight of an autumn evening. There rules the day, but resigns her sceptre, is not a whisper among the leaves of at night, to the imagination? Shall those tall poplars in the field beneath. I not rather consider this influence The moon has just risen, broad and as the effect of a feeling implanted red, through those thick vapours, in us by nature, which we stifle or which have succeeded the sultriness overcome, in the bustle and business of the day. Her light comes glim- of the day, but which re-asserts its mering and feeble into my little empire in the solitude of night, like study, and 'falls upon my table, the increasing radiance of yonder showing a mountain of books, papers, stars, hidden by light, but discovered and writing-materials—and a vel- by darkness ? 'If, in natural theololum-bound Plutarch, open at the Life gy, the existence of a God is renderof Marcus Brutus. It is at that ed strongly probable, merely by the passage where he describes, with a concurring belief of all ages, shall I solemn simplicity, that strange visi- reject all arguments, from a similar tation which disturbed the patriot, belief in the question of spiritual first on the frontiers of Asia, and existences ? Universal effects must afterwards at Philippi. “One night, have a cause as universal. The opiafter he had passed out of Asia, he nion cannot be repugnant to our nowas very late, all alone, in his tent, tions of the soul, since it has suggestwith a dim light burning by him- ed itself, at the same time, to those who had no communication with probability of such occurrences is each other. It cannot have been a matter that must be decided acaltogether unsupported by fact, be- cording to evidence. There may, cause a mere speculative opinion, indeed, be some who hold that no without some appeal to experience, evidence issufficient to establish a must soon have been forgotten. fact of this kind. This is merely Above all, it must indeed be deep- an application of Hume's ingenious ly rooted, since all the exposures argument against miracles. The and refutations of special narratives question, like any other, is sushave never been able to eradicate ceptible of human testimony, with it from our minds. When the Jew this qualification only, that the eviAbraham, in Bocaccio, proceeded dence is to be received with a degree to Rome, in spite of the remon- of caution proportioned to the extrastrances of his friend Giannotto, who ordinary nature of the fact which had been labouring to effect his forms the subject of investigation. conversion, his Christian instructor Every reasonable deduction must be abandoned all hope of success, being made for the fallacy of the senses, aware of the scenes of vice and im- the over-excitement of the imaginamorality which the conduct of the tion, or the deceit of the narrator. Catholic priesthood would offer to Hume's test of the truth of miracuhis view. "But, to his agreeable sur- lous narratives, which Paley consiprise, the Jew, on his return, re- ders as a fair statement of the quesmarked, with great justice, that all tion, may here be safely applied. these scenes had only confirmed him We must weigh and balance the the more in his intention : for a re- two probabilities—whether it is more ligion, which, in spite of the noto- likely that the circumstances related rious wickedness of the highest of have really happened, or that the narits professors, 'could yet go on and rator has been himself deceived, or, prosper, like the Christian, must in- from interested motives, is deceiving deed be founded on a rock, and sup- us,—and then decide according to the ported by Divine Power. An opi- preponderance of the one or the other. nion, therefore, which, in spite of I admit, however, that there may be a the ridiculous absurdities with which presumption, from internal evidence, it has been overlaid, can still pro- against the truth of such a story, too duce such powerful effects—a feeling strong to be overruled by testimony. which we confess by our fears, even We cannot believe that in any case while denying it with our lips-must such occurrences should take place, indeed be firmly rooted, and shows without the immediate permission of the visible impress of Nature herself. the Deity; nor can we conceive, “ Est enim hæc non scripta sed nata without impugning the noblest of lex, quam non didicimus, accepimus, his attributes, that they should be legimus, verum ex naturâ ipsâ ar- so permitted, without an adequate ripuimus, hausimus, expressimus.” end or purpose—still less, that that In fact, the very frequency of such end should be one

of mere wantonattempts at imposture is, in itself, ness or malice. Relations of this a virtual acknowledgment of the kind are the offspring merely of hua strength and universality of this be- man folly and credulity, and bear lief, for no one could venture to the same relation to truth, as polyfound a scheine for deceiving another, theism to true religion, being absurd on principles repugnant to the no- and unnecessary multiplications of a tions of the person deceived, or to principle in itself genuine and divine. touch so tender a string as that of All those tales, therefore, of spispiritual visitations, if he were not rits, hostile to man,—who delight secure of finding an answering chord in wantonly terrifying and tormentin the bosoms of mankind.

ing those under their influence,Nor is there any thing in this be- which the superstitious fancy of man lief more revolting to the reason than has created in all ages and countries, the feelings. No one can believe the are at once swept away by this condoctrine of the immortality of the sideration. Instead of swaying the soul, without admitting the possibi- judgment with the strength of reality, lity of spiritual appearances; and the they must now be content to exercise

[ocr errors]

a faint and precarious influence over having happened so late as the Battle the imagination; and Reason teaches of Waterloo, I can no more believe us to rejoice at their fate, though the story, than I do the exploits of a Poetry still laments over their tomb. similar

personage in Bocaccio's novel Puck is now but an empty name. of Nastagio, or in Bürger's Ballads Gloriana wields a powerless sceptre.

of Lenore and the Wild Huntsman. The gentle fairies have fled their It is certain, too, that many degreen knolls. Oberon and Titania ductions from the aggregate of spirithave ceased their moonlight revels. ual appearances, must be made on The Brownie no longer haunts his account of the influence of the imahereditary castles. No longer can gination, especially when the mind the Lubber-fiend drain his cream is agitated by fear, anxiety, or any bowl, or stretch his hairy length be violent passion. The power of imafore the cottage fire. Never again gination, in such circumstances, is shall the woods echo to the hoofs of indeed wonderful; and where the prothe spectre Horseman. All those bability of the occurrence rests on the visions of calling shapes and beck- testimony of a single individual, if oning shadows dire, with which there is any reason to suppose his credulity had peopled the dark cave, mind influenced by such causes, we the gloomy forest, or the ruined are warranted to conclude, according hall, now bear in themselves their to Hume's rule, that the probability own refutation; and we only wonder of his being deceived is greater than that mankind should have ministered that of the circumstance having hapso liberally to their own uneasiness, pened, and to reject his evidence acin thus turning to shape, and giving cordingly. Thus, that terrible spectre to these "airy nothings" of the brain which shook the mind of the Sicilian “ a local habitation and a name. Dion, seems to have been but the But thus it has ever been. Like the coinage of his brain * Wearied out Israelites of old, they frame the idol, by the repeated insults and treachery and then worship the golden calf of Heraclides, his wonted clemency which they have set up.

forsook him, and he sullied his fame, Tales such as these oppose the by allowing him to be assassinated. fundamental principle upon which

From that moment he never knew alone the reality of spiritual appear peace. His conscience, torn by reances is rendered probable; that is, morse, conjured up a spectre, which, the effecting some useful and im in the shape of a tall and frightful portant end; and, therefore, however female figure, appeared to him every strongly corroborated, they can never night, and seemed to sweep the aproduceconviction. Thus, when Sully partment with violence; and his disinforms me* that a frightful spectre eased fancy connected the sudden haunted the forest of Fontainbleau, death of his son, which happened and that it had been more than once soon after, with this apparition. We seen by the King and his whole know but little of the laws which resuite in hunting ; and when I find gulate our associations, nor can we this testimony corroborated by most trace any natural connection between of the cotemporary historians and the murder of Heraclides, and this annalistst, I admit the circumstance peculiar creation of Dion's fancy; to be inexplicable ; but I cannot

but in the circumstances of the case, bring myself to the belief of its we cannot, I think, hesitate in attrireality. Thus, too, when a German buting the whole to the weakness of tells me, that, on certain nights in 2 mind agitated by remorse. But the year, an infernal troop sally out the mind is still more liable to be defrom the ruinous castle of Rodenstein, ceived by erroneous impressions on and gallop to a neighbouring ruin; the senses, than by its own creations; though I have the strongest con and to the frequency of such fallacurring testimonies to the fact of its cies, a still larger proportion of such

tales is to be ascribed. The following

incident, which I think is not geneMemoirs, Vol. II. B. 10. + Perefixe. Pere Matthun. Bongars. rally known, would, in the hands of Journal Henri IV. Chronologu Septennaire.

* Plutarch in Vit. Dion.


« PoprzedniaDalej »