Page images

fully and impressively the goodness and benevolence of the Deity are seen through all his works, and when, in tones of endearment not to be resisted, he speaks more directly to the moral and intellectual part of his creation. It is in Spring, in fact, whilst all that lives is rejoicing, when not only the fig-tree and the vine have put on their promise, but one general song of bliss and harmony is ascending to heaven, that our hearts kindle with the love of nature, and respond to the noblest promptings of philanthropy; that we most intimately feel our relationship with the great family of the Father of all things; and that we best learn to associate his image and his attributes with all that, in the boundless beneficence of his will, he has called into being and enjoyment.

To those on whom life, with all its loveliest tints of promise, is just opening, Spring comes with a peculiar congeniality of aspect and feeling. There is, indeed, between the youth of the year, and the youth of human life, a similitude the most striking; both are, in fact, the peculiar season of gaiety and hope, and both appear vested, as it were, in paradisaical beauty, and fresh from the hands of their Creator. It is, consequently, at this interesting period of our earthly

pilgrimage, when, whilst every sense is stimulated by the charm of novelty, and every pulse thrills with innocent delight, when we are yet looking forward with an unchilled imagination which paints goodness and happiness as the general lot of mortality, that the heart, as yet uncontaminated by any admixture with a guilty world, joins its purest homage to that which universal nature, during the spring-tide of the year, seems more especially offering up at the throne of the Deity; a homage which at no after period of time can, with man, be equally sinless and unpolluted; and which is, indeed, peculiarly and almost exclusively the property and the privilege of our youthful days.

To those youthful days with what avidity do we turn in the subsequent portion of our career, when the toils, and cares, and passions of manhood have involved us in a vortex of business and ambition. More intensely, however, are we reminded of the innocent enjoyments of opening life, when the season of the primrose and the lark revisits our dwellings. It is then we look back on the similar season of our existence with associations and feelings which, though mingled with some sensations of regret, are yet singularly soothing and delightful; and more

particularly do we revert, during this retrospection,

to that spot

* Improvisatrice, p. 193.

Where Spring its earliest visit paid;

for, as hath been beautifully said, "there are no remembrances like those of our youth. The heart, crushed or hardened by its intercourse with the world, turns with affectionate delight to its early dreams. How we pity those whose childhood has been unhappy! To them one of the sweetest springs of feeling has been utterly denied; the most green and beautiful part of life laid waste. But to those whose spring has been what spring should ever be, fresh, buoyant, and gladsome, whose cup has not been poisoned at the first draught, how delicious is recollection! they truly know the pleasures of memory *."

If, on the minds of those who are midway on their journey through the valley of life, the return of Spring comes associated, as if by an indissoluble catenation, with the endearing pictures of childhood and opening youth, with perhaps yet greater power of impression does it call up the recollections of early

happiness and simplicity in the bosoms of the aged. It is, indeed, one of the characteristics of those advanced in life, that whilst the events of the noontide and evening of their days, and even the occurrences of the preceding week, are often buried in utter oblivion, or remembered but faintly and indistinctly, such has been the strength, such the indelible nature of the imagery which has accompanied the morning of their existence, that the features of that happy period, when the heart was guileless, and the mind unsullied, rise up again with a freshness and vividity of colouring that rival the tenderest hues of Spring, and place before the pilgrim, laden with the snows of time, a fairy vision of remembered bliss, regions of green pastures and still waters, rendered still more bright and lovely by the contrasting darkness which surrounds them *.

I must here be allowed to quote a short passage from a little volume published at Derby, and sold by Longman and Co. London, in 1823, and entitled " Essays and Sketches in Prose. By George Miller, jun., author of Stanzas written on a Summer's Evening, and other Poems." The poems alluded to in the title-page I have not seen; but I can truly say, that the Essays are valuable alike for the purity of their sentiments and the beauty of their style. There is, indeed, a sweetness and tenderness of thought about them which cannot fail to endear their pages to every reader, and I feel peculiar pleasure

Nor, even where memory serves in old age to recall the entire tissue of past events, how seldom is the picture of our opening days made less dear and interesting to us by recollected scenes of subsequent innocence and enjoyment! It is then, indeed, that too frequently an appalling contrariety

in bearing this testimony to their literary and moral excellence. The passage to which I allude is in perfect accordance with the subject of my present paper. The author is speaking of infancy as "the sunshine of our existence," and he then adds, "If there be one topic upon which the aged love to dwell more than another, it is this: With what enthusiastic glee will they repeat the actions of their earlier years! Who has not seen the faded eye lighted up with a new lustre, and the withered cheek overspread with a momentary glow, at the mention of some infant-deed which they well remember? and how firmly attached are they to the place where they first began their youthful sports.-The sun in other lands may shine as bright, but it does not rise over the little hill, nor set behind the green wood, where, in infancy, we were wont to view it. The sky, in a distant province, may appear studded with as many stars, but it is not so dear to us as when we gazed upon it from the footpath by our native cottage. Even the old gate, which opens into the small garden, has a sacredness about it which we love to cherish; and although some cold calculating philosophers may laugh, and tell us that it is only composed of a few pieces of wood, yet we can smile in return, since we have truth and reason, and the holiest of feelings on our side."

« PreviousContinue »