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I remember listening in the midst of a crowd, many years ago, to the voice of a girl, a mere child of sixteen summers, till I was bewildered. She was a pure, high-hearted, impassioned creature, without the least knowledge of the world, or of her peculiar gift; but her own thoughts had wrought upon her like the hush of a sanctuary, and she spoke low, as if with an unconscious awe. I could never trifle in her presence. My nonsense seemed out of place, and my practiced assurance forsook me utterly. She is changed now. She has been admired, and has found out her beauty, and the music of her tone is gone. She will recover it by and by, when the delirium of the world is over, and she begins to rely, once more, upon her own thoughts for company; but her extravagant spirits have broken over the thrilling timidity of childhood, and the charm is unwound.

The music of church bells has become a matter of poetry. Thomas Moore has sung “ Those evening bells,” in some of the most melodious of his elaborate stanzas. There is something exceedingly impressive in the breaking in of church bells on the stillness of the Sabbath. I doubt whether it is not more so in the heart of a populous city, than anywhere else. The presence of any single, strong feeling, in the midst of a great people, has something of awfulness in it which exceeds even the impressiveness of nature's breathless Sabbath.

I know few things more imposing, than to walk the streets of a city, when the peal of the early bells is just beginning. The deserted pavements, the closed windows of places of business, the decent gravity of the solitary passenger, and, over all, the feeling in your own bosom, that the fear of God is brooding, like a great shadow, over the thousand human beings who are sitting still in their dwellings around you, were enough, if there were no other circumstances, to hush the heart into a religious fear. But when the bells peal out suddenly, with a summons to the temple of God, and their echoes roll on through the desolate streets, and are unanswered by the sound of any human voice, or the din of any human occupation, the effect has sometimes seemed to me far more solemn than the near thunder.

Far more beautiful, and, perhaps, quite as salutary as a religious influence, is the sound of a distant Sabbath bell in the country. It comes floating over the hills like the going abroad of a spirit; and, as the leaves stir with its vibrations, and drops of dew tremble in the cups of the flowers, you could almost believe there was a Sabbath in nature, and that the dumb works of God rendered visible worship for his goodness. The effect of nature alone is purifying, and its thousand evidences of wisdom are too eloquent of their Maker, not to act as a continual lesson; but combined with the instilled piety of childhood, and the knowledge of the inviolable holiness of the time, the mellow cadences of a church bell give to the hush of the country Sabbath a holiness, to which only a desperate heart could be insensible.




Lorenzo and Jessica.
Lor. The moon shines bright. In such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
And they did make no noise; in such a night,
Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls,
And sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressid lay that night.

In such a night,
Did Thishe fearfully o’ertrip the dew ;
And saw the lion's shadow ere himself,
And ran dismayed away.

In such a night,
Stood Dido, with a willow in her hand,
Upon the wild sea-bank, and waved her love
To come again to Carthage.

In such a night,
Medea gathered the enchanted herbs
That did renew old Æson.

In such a night,
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew ;
And with an unthrift love did run from Venice,
As far as Belmont.

In such a night,
Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well;
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
And ne'er a true one.

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Lor. How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears; soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold :
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st,
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, while this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close us in, we cannot hear it.

Enter Musicians,
Come, ho, and wake Diana with a hymn;
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
And draw her home with music.

Jes. I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
Lor. The reason is, your spirits are attentive;
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing, and neighing loud,
Which is the hot condition of their blood;
If they but hear, perchance, a trumpet sound,
Or any air of music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
Their savage eyes turned to a modest gaze,
By the sweet power of music. Therefore the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods
Since naught so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
But music for the time doth change his nature.
The man that hath no music in himself,
And is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils ;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus :
Let no such man be trusted.-Mark the music.

Enter Portia und Nerissa at a distance.
Por. That light we see, is burning in my hall.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Ner. When the moon shone, we did not see the candle.

Por. So doth the greater glory dim the less :
A substitute shines brightly as a king,
Until a king be by; and then his state
Empties itself, as does an inland brook
Into the main of waters. Music! hark!

Ner. It is your music, madam, of the house.

Por. Nothing is good, I see, without respect; Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

Ner. Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.

Por. The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark,
When neither is attended; and, I think,
The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things by season seasoned are
To their right praise, and true perfection!
Peace, hoa! the moon sleeps with Endymion,
And would not be awaked !


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“I am free, I am free; I return no more!
The weary time of the cage is o'er!
Through the rolling clouds I can soar on high,
The sky is around me, the blue, bright sky!

“ The hills lie beneath me, spread far and clear,
With their glowing heath-flowers and bounding deer,
I see the waves flash on the sunny shore;
I am free, I am free; I return no more !"

Alas, alas, my bird !

Why seek'st thou to be free?
Wert thou not blest in thy little bower,

When thy song breathed naught but glee ?

“ Did my song of summer breathe naught but glee ?
Did the voice of the captive seem sweet to thee ?
Oh! hadst thou known its deep meaning well,
It had tales of a burning heart to tell.
“ From a dream of the forest that music sprang,
Through its notes the peal of a torrent rang;
And its dying fall, when it soothed thee best,
Sighed for wild flowers and a leafy nest.”

Was it with thee thus, my bird ?

Yet thine eye flashed clear and bright; I have seen the glance of the sudden joy

In its quick and dewy light.

66 It flashed with the fire of a tameless race,
With the soul of the wild wood, my native place;
With the spirit that panted through heaven to soar ;
Woo me not back; I return no more!

“ My home is high, amid rocking trees,
My kindred things are the star and breeze,
And the fount unchecked in its lonely play,
And the odors that wander afar away!"

Farewell, farewell, then, bird!

I have called on spirits gone,
And it may be they joyed like thee, to part,

Like thee, that wert all my own.

“ If they were captives and pined like me,
Though love might guard them, they joyed to be free;
They sprung from the earth with a burst of power,
To the strength of their wings, to their triumph's hour

“ Call them not back when the chain is riven,
When the way of the pinion is all through heaven.
Farewell ! With my song through the clouds I soar,
[ pierce the blue skies: I am earth's no more !"


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