Page images
[blocks in formation]




shady groves, and the whispering voices of cool, secluded little spot where sleep our rural dead. waters.

Many a time and oft those rustic fathers, in The ephemeral insects, too, enjoy their tran- hearty youth or green old age, trod the path we sitory existence, and weave airy dances through tread upon the mountain. Of a certainty we slant sunbeams, mirthfully, as if no frost would must one day, like them, essay a darker road, herald night, and send them to their tiny graves; and sleep beneath the turf of the valley! So, and for whom the merry elves might mourn, linking these things together, we hold, as it were the elves here; but alas ! we may fancy were, a mental communion with the departed. them flown from the biting tempests—

Away! away! Our time is more than half“Where do the fairies hide their heads

spent : we will again to the vale. Let us for In Winter's storms and rain ?

awhile wander through its leafless woods, gaze They cannot sip the dew that falls

on its crystal rivulets, now gushing noiselessly Till the green leaves come again."

beneath their superincumbent glassy crust, and

search its wide snow-sprinkled meadows, satisMost charming creatures of the poet's imagina- fied that in every spot where chance or fancy tion! None but a thoroughly prosaic utilitarian may lead our devious steps, we shall discover would seek to banish you from our dales. Still abundance of objects to interest the philosopher, hover, then, over your favourite fountains, and to charm the poet, and to afford a never-failing describe inystic measures on the chosen hill-source of humility and gratitude to the Chrisside, as in the days that are bygones.

tian. Soon, very soon, the sinking sun will Now, occasionally, gay butterflies burst from drop in rosy splendour behind yonder already their self-wrought cells, and flit amongst the empurpled hill, to close in glory, as he began in blossoms that hardily defy every north wind; brightness, the fast-waning day of FEBRUARY. for even in February both fields and gardens present a variety of coloured blooms in sheltered spots. They are pale indeed; a sickly shadow hangs upon them: Winter, with unkind hand,

STANZAS. has rudely touched their petals, and, like their delicate aërial visitants, in the eye of fancy they may be likened to etherial spirits looking on the abodes of grief-working crime, and weeping in Why did Fate, malignant, sever their spotless purity to behold the foulness of Hearts that would be faithful ever, the impure.

Held in sweetest union ? Linger not now in the garden bowers-pause Why, when summer skies looked brightest, not beside the ice-locked fountain; but let us And those bounding hearts beat lightest, hasten to scenes where Nature reigns unfettered, Strike in death their high communion ? and improvement or mischief rarely comes. Oh,

Then the sunlight on the river, it is glorious to tread along mountain tops, with heather and bracken crisp beneath our feet,

Snowy arrows from Hope's quiver,

Birds upon the wing, after the keen frost of the previous night ; whilst In the glorious noonlight glancing, every little pool and runnel resembles a frozen Imaged out the wild entrancing lake or arrested river, bearing whole forests of of those sweet souls slumbering. miniature ice-decorated trees on its margin-tall rushes, sedge-leaves, and marsh grasses, all

Slumbering-for Passion's power magnified by the beautiful covering Winter's

Coilèd lay within the flower, curious workmanship has thrown over them.

Peace-destroying bee :

When from that retreat he started, Delightful is it to breast the cold breeze that

Hope and Joy with him departed, brings tears into our eyes, and dyes our cheeks

Darkening a soul so free. with a deeper crimson, all the while imparting health and vigour as it sweeps onwards, view

Now a wanderer lone and weary, less, but not unheard. How it soughs among

In the midnight dark and dreary, the heath afar off, and now moans amid the

Near the river's flowdark, stiff, ghost-like fir branches, like a wailing

By her guardian sprite forsaken, spirit of the pathless wild, perpetually wander

Mem'ry's spell can only waken

From her wild heart tones of woe. ing, ever seeking, but never finding, rest! Shortly it dies away in dim distance, with a They were streams in silence blending, shrill, but low whistlé, till we pause, and half Till the rugged rock descending persuade ourselves that that creature of the ele- Turn'd their course apartments is in verity a spiritual thing. Anon, there They were flowers, whose foliage twining, mingles with its voice, rising amid the still,

Bloomed whilst summer suns were shining, clear blue atmosphere, from valleys far below,

Till a snow-storm struck the heart. the sound of village time-bells, counting the But Time's iron wheel revolving, rapid lapse of a short winter's day. Distinctly,

Every problem shall be solving ; as if we stood beside the belfry in the old Rose-leaves, sere and blighted, church-yard, that chime falls upon our ears, and Through long years retain their essence ; our thoughts perhaps involuntarily wander And the stream's refulgent presence from the magnificent desert we are pacing, to the Angel-eyes shall see united !


“Oh! you, that have the charge of Love,

Keep him in rosy bondage bound,
As in the fields of bliss above
He sits with flow'rets fettered round;
Loose not a tie that round him clings,
Nor ever let him use his wings ;
For e'en an hour, a minute's flight,
Will rob the plumes of half their light.
Like that celestial bird, whose crest
Is found beneath far eastern skies-
Whose wings though radiant when at rest,
Lose all their glory when he flies !"


" The Dawn of Love !"-Such is the very anxiously-not impatient to hear his answer ; he attractive title of a very attractive picture now has learned it already from her speaking face. hanging in the print-shops. Few persons pass Still the maiden leans against the rock, a thouit without a casual glance; and very few are con- sand joyful emotionstent with only a casual glance-it well repays close scrutiny. The subject is undoubtedly one

“ Hopes, and fears that nourish hope, of universal interest, and the artist has treated

An undistinguishable throng;

And gentle wishes long subdued, it in the most effective, because in the most

Subdued and cherished long”natural manner possible: he has judiciously dispensed with all artificial embellishments. agitating her heart, and adding new beauties to Admirable as his painting may be as a work of her changing countenance. Her whole appearart, its greatest charm consists in its exceeding ance is most attractive: her personal charms, simplicity of design, which is peculiarly appro- the modest dignity of her bearing, and her hum, priate to the subject which it illustrates. Tlie ble attire-the rustic plaid and the bare arms and scene is a rural glen, by the borders of a water- feet-would excite attention in any situation, fall; and the hero and heroine are a Highland but in this they are of peculiar effect. The exlad and lassie. The time is happily chosen. treme lowliness and even poverty of her appearThe maiden has apparently come to fetch water ance, and the exquisite emotions painted in her from the brook; where, either by accident or face, declare, more powerfully than any words

, appointment, she has met her lover. Having how little happiness depends on worldly splenplaced her pitcher under the waterfall, she is dours or artificial pleasures, and how the purest leaning back against a broken rock, waiting and holiest and most beautiful sentiments are patiently for it to fill. Meanwhile, the youth common to all hearts, irrespective of rank and has spoken ; what he has said we may perhaps station. Viewed in this light, the maiden seems, surinise, and he is waiting for a reply. Seated as it were, an embodiment of the poetry of on a lowly fragment of rock at a little distance, Nature. he looks up at her tenderly and inquiringly. The moments pass, still she speaks not: her She, however, is in no haste to speak-indeed soul is wrapt in Elysium, she has no words for she hardly seems to think an answer required; earth. Love, modesty, and joy, are glowing in she remains with her hands clasped, and her her face; it is difficult to say which predolooks downcast, apparently absorbed in con- minates ; but we are wrong in attempting to disscious delight. It is thus the artist has por- tinguish such emotions, for they are inseparable. trayed them. The eloquent silence of that mo- Still the maiden leans against the rock, still her inentous moment appeals to us irresistibly, con- lover looks up at her askingly. The pitcher is veying an impression of exquisite happiness and long since filled, the sparkling water streams perfect peace. As we contemplate the scene, from it in all directions; and the shepherd's we are fain to believe it a reality, and we parti- dog, weary of waiting, sleeps soundly at his cipate in the feelings of the lovers, who seem to master's feet. Nothing disturbs the silence, fear either by word or look to interrupt such nothing mars the harmony of the hour. complete felicity. The moments pass : still Apart from the individual attractions of the they retain their position : still the youth waits group, there is soinething most pleasing and on his lowly seat, his head resting on his hand, suggestive in this rural scene--beautiful as a looking up inquiringly-inquiringly, but not glimpse of sunshine, and refreshing as the breath

[blocks in formation]

of morning, well is it called the Dawn. It and verdant as the floral bowers of Eden. The brings vividly before the mind of the beholder murmur of the falling water makes as sweet a the happiest epoch in one of the happiest of music in their ears as the harmonious warblings emotions—the Dawn of Love; a season singu- of the celestial groves—and so we would have it larly analogous to the hour of sunrise, when the with them. So we rejoice it is; and while we distant horizon appears radiant with glory, and gaze upon them, (so fully are we persuaded of every surrounding object seems couleur de rose; their reality), we almost breathe a prayer that so a season - aptly symbolised by the maiden's it may continue; that however rugged may be pitcher at the brook-when the heart, filled with their future way, or however desolate the land jog from an eternal well-spring, out of the through which it leads, an atmosphere of love abundance of its treasure diffuses happiness all continually surrounding them may render their around; a season when all that is elevated and path blooming and verdant-a vestige of Paraholy has most effect upon the imagination, and dise ever in the vale of tears; for so Love can most influence on the heart. The furnace of make it. affliction may effectually purify the dross of hu- Such romantic fancies occupy our thoughts man nature; but happiness has a quicker fire, as we stand by the windows of the print-shop, and while it lasts performs the process as contemplating this beautiful engraving.

At completely. When Love exists in all its purity length, filled with earnest aspirations for the and spirituality, it nourishes the soul in good- future happiness of the lovers, we reluctantly ness; for it contains in itself the elements of the turn away, bestowing on them a last lingering three great virtues which should regulate our look. sentiments towards ourselves, our fellow-men, With difficulty we draw our eyes from the and our Maker-humility, charity, and devotion. sweet countenance of the loving maiden, and Who is more humble than he who truly loves ? they fall upon a portrait of the unhappy Duchess The same feeling which invests the beloved with of Praslin! Startled by a sight so inaccordant every possible perfection, strips the lover of with our thoughts, we hurriedly look in another every self-imagined virtue, and overpowers him direction, and encounter the rubicond visage of with the conviction of his unworthiness. At Mrs. Caudle! A casual chance might have the very time when he would fain regard himself thus assembled such incongruous pictures ; but most favourably, his eyes are opened, and he what a moral lesson does not the chance combirecognises his insignificance. Humility is ever nation teach! what a gloomy train of thought the inseparable companion of Love. Again, does it not suggest ! what heart so overflows with Charity-which is

Turning from the print-shop, we parsue our universal Love-as that in which a strong affec- way; but it is not so easy to turn from the reflection for another has destroyed all selfishness tions they inspired. Our fond illusions are sudand egotism, and given an irresistible impulse denly dispelled, our hopeful imaginings have to all gentle and kindly emotions ? This Love received a cruel check. Recalling the scene hy

the waterfall, we ask ourselves again and again, " But serves the virtuous mind to wake, As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake.

if by any marvellous metamorphosis those lovers

could be converted into actors in an appalling The centre moved, a circle straight succeeds; Another still, and still another spreads.

tragedy, or even disputants in a contentious Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace ; quarrel. Think again of the sweet timidity of His country next, and next all human race.” the maiden's face--think again of the earnest

tenderness of her lover's regard. No, imposLastly, and more especially woman-love, in its sible! Violent passion or petty discord can purest form, elevates the soul, and inspires it never destroy their peace, or dim the lustre of with Devotion.

their love. Impossible! Yet admitting thisThe heart that in love will the most adore,

admitting that our favourite scene could never Has another and higher it loves the more.”

be followed by a catastrophe similar to either of

those suggested-must we not also admit that He who has tasted all the sweetest and purest | they most probably had been preceded by interjoys of earthly love, can more especially appre- views somewhat resembling this ? The features ciate the exceeding excellence of a love more of Mrs. Caudle were once eloquent with tendersweet, more pure, more joyful, than any that ness, her eyes downcast in modest happiness, earth or things earthly can occasion. The same her voice hardly audible in excess of timid emofeeling which makes the world, for the time tion. And look at her portrait now! being, a paradise, enables us the more accurately Or, if we think of that appalling sight, when to value, and the more eagerly to desire, the en- the wife lay murdered by her husband's hand, during happiness of heaven. Hence, as we is not its horror, if possible, augmented when have said, this passion gives a peculiar stimulus we suppose it the sequel to some such scene as to the three mainsprings of virtue.

that by the Waterfall? Think of that white It was in Paradise that Love first “ dawned;" hand, rigid in death, still grasping the hair torn and ever since, every succeeding “ Dawn” has from the head of the once beloved; and think of conjured up a resemblance of the celestial re- the time when those same small fingers have gion. Contemplating the lovers by the water- tenderly pushed back the locks from his brow! fall, we feel it is so with them. To them the We will not linger on this horrible theme, rugged landscape and barren rocks are blooming although a lesson might be learned from it. We


set it aside entirely. Mrs. Caudle will serve our A something light as air- a look, purpose as well, or perhaps even more effectu- A word unkind or wrongly taken, ally.

Ah! Love, that tempests never shook, Recognising – as all must recognise - the

A breath, a touch like this hath shaken.

And ruder words will soon rush in great truthfulness of her portraiture, and well aware that there exist very many who bear Mrs.

To spread the breach that words begin;

And eyes forget the gentle ray Caudle a strong family likeness, we are tempted

They wore in courtship’s smiling day; to ask if Love must have a Decline as well as a And voices lose the tone that shed Dawn. Must a passion, 'whose “ rising" is so A tenderness round all they said; beautiful, set in clouds and darkness, and leave Till fast declining, one by one, only the gloom of night? Is a feeling so un- The sweetnesses of love are gone; earthly not then immortal? Has the “ Plant of And hearts, so lately mingled, seem Paradise” only “survived the fall” to exhibit

Like broken clouds-or like the stream, its beauty before it wither? To such inquiries

That smiling left the mountain's brow we would fain utter a strenuous negative. We

As though its waters ne'er could sever, must still believe with the poet, that Love

Yet, ere it reach the plain below,

Breaks into floods that part for ever." “ Is indestructible, Its holy flame for ever burneth ;

Is not the picture too correct? If we look From heaven it came, to heaven returneth.”

around us a little, we shall find only too many

illustrations of its truth-we shall find only Yet, believing this, while we reflect (not on ter- too many instances of an apparent decline of rible and happily rare catastrophes, but) on the love. In some cases domestic happiness is teachings of daily experience, gleaned from the marred by a perpetual though hardly perceptible angry tones, harsh words, and sullen looks of variance, like the uneasy motion of a boat when those who once were lovers, we come to the con- the rowers do not strike simultaneously: in clusion that if Love itself be immortal, its out-others by sudden but transient outbreaks, reward demonstrations are of sadly too transient sembling the occasional jarring in a piece of a character. By outward demonstrations, be it music when one note is out of tune ; in others observed, we do not refer to sentimental phrases again there is a constant “ bickering and deand tender epithets, which, so far from denoting bate;" yet perhaps in all these cases, notwithaffection, too often only signify its absence. What standing external appearances, true affection we lament is the terrible contrast so often ex-exists; which, however, only renders the dishibited by the devotion and self-forgetfulness of putants more unhappy; for lovers, and the selfishness and discord which mark their domestic life. And we seek to learn

46 To be wrath with one we love

Doth work like madness in the brain." by what marvellous process the devoted, admiring youth, who believes her whom he has With another and a very numerous class the chosen the

reign of Love is shortened, not by internal dif“ Loveliest, virtuousest, discreetest, best"

ferences, but by external influences. The hus

band is engrossed with business; all his time of women, and the timid maiden, whose whole and all his thoughts are devoted to some imexistence seems wrapped up in him she loves, portant, and perhaps necessary, pursuit ; and can be converted into an exacting, dissatisfied an imperceptible but impassable barrier interhusband, and a fretful, fault-finding wife. We venes between hearts which once were closely ask how this change can be effected: the poet and, as it seemed, inseparably united; or perhas told us. The poet, who has so exquisitely haps the wife loves pleasure (so called) and the pourtrayed Love in its various phases, has given admiration of the world, and innocently enough, a marvellously truthful description of its gradual as she imagines, gives all her care and attention decline and fall

. His views upon this subject to procuring amusement for herself and her cannot be too often conned: they should be friends, while the one who once was every one treasured up by the domestic hearth, and con- to her, is unthought of, or his admiration not tinually muttered as a charm to keep off discord deemed worth the trouble of seeking. Someand preserve peace.

times both husband and wife sympathize in one At the risk of repeating what is already well sentiment—the love of society, and both take known, we must record them here; they so pleasure in “living" in the world. For a time peculiarly and forcibly illustrate our theme—the such things may afford them a passing gratificadisunion of lovers, and consequent disappearance tion, but can we wonder if their domestic bapof love. " Alas!” exclaims the poet, sharing in piness be destroyed ? To take an example from our sentiment

a fiction that is as familiar as a reality-jvho that “ Alas ! how light a cause may move

had sympathized with the loves of Harry Co. Dissension between hearts that love!

ningsby and Edith Millbank, and remembered Hearts that the world in vain has tried,

the scene in the fishing cottage in the days of And sorrow but more closely tied;

their “ Dawn of Love," but was chilled and That stood the storm when waves were rough, disappointed on meeting with a recent picture Yet in a sunny hour fall off,

of their married life?- the husband iminersed Like ships that have gone down at sea,

in politics, and the wife the belle of the gay When heaven was all tranquillity!

world! “What time for romantic love?" asks

[blocks in formation]

their historian; “ they were never an hour assurance, that her affection can never in any alone!" And yet he adds that they were still wise diminish, and that her continual tenderness tenderly attached to each other. Nevertheless, will prevent her husband's from declining: their domestic happiness was virtually destroyed. Fond delusion! She trusts in the stability of Valuable flowers will not bloom without culture; the human heart, than which nothing is more they cannot exist without a kindly climate, and inconstant: she confides in the strength of huthe most valuable, the “ Plant of Paradise" man nature, than which nothing is more feeble. (" Domestic Bliss”), will only flourish in the Happy would it be for her, did one of those genial atmosphere of home. Yet even by the friends, now smiling over her youthful ardour, fireside, as we have seen, its growth is sometimes and predicting its brief duration, teach her how stunted; even here it is not sufficiently protected; to preserve in their present strength and beauty jealousy and discord, and other malignant spirits, the exquisite emotions of her young heart, and strip it of its blossoms; and, deprived of its render the Dawn of her love only the precursor beauty, the “ Plant of Paradise” soon ceases to of an eternal meridian. exist." Both conclusions are most lamentable; In Paradise, where trees and flowers bloomed but alas! not the less true. Would it were spontaneously, without labour or care of man, otherwise; for to all who truly appreciate the virtue was natural to the heart, and love flourished mystical beauty and excellence of love, angry in his own atmosphere. But when the flaming tones or polite formality, between those who have sword guarded the celestial region, and fallen been lovers, is more repulsive than the harshest man was exiled to an ungenial clime, the earth discord that ever marred the most celestial of herself only brought forth weeds and thistlesmelody: While to those who yet are lovers, flowers and fruits required the toil of man, only dissensions among their married friends have in the sweat of his brow could he eat bread. As somewhat the chilling effect of the skeleton at it was with the external, so it is with the internal the Egyptian feasts, saying, " To this thou also world. Vices and errors spring up naturally in must come." In vain the heart, strong in its our hearts, while all goodness and virtue requires conscious affection, gives an emphatic denial to to be planted by the Heavenly Husbandman, the gloomy prophecy; reason and experience are and tended with our unceasing care. To this against it, and the most hopeful hesitate, and the rule even Love is no exception. True it seems, timid shudder. Or should a few, confident in at first especially, to bloom spontaneously, bethemselves, venture to declare that they will cause (to pursue the metaphor) the soil is more form exceptions to the general rule, and realize peculiarly adapted to this plant than to any the poet's “ Elysium on Earth”

other. Hence the care of the labourer is at first " Where two that are linked in one heavenly tie,

chiefly required, not to stimulate its growth, but With heart never changing, and brow never cold,

to prevent its too great luxuriance. He must, Love on through all ills, and love on till they die!” | by stripping off the superfluous foliage, endea

vour to strengthen the stem, so that while it their friends, smiling scornfully or pityingly at "strikes its roots downwards,” finding nourishtheir delusion, unanimously assure them " It is ment in the richest and choicest particles of the always so !--every one says the same, but every soil (all that is best and sweetest and noblest in one ends by doing the same. You will some day human nature), it may “ extend its branches quarrel quite as much as your neighbours, and upwards," bearing fruit abundantly (the fruit think nothing of it !Well may the young bride of meekness, patience, self-denial, charity, gratitremble when the merry peal announces her mar- tude, and joy). If left to itself, it will bear no riage-day, lest she be about to dispel the beau-fruit, only fragrant blossoms of delicate beauty, tiful halo of happiness shed round her by the and, alas ! of transient duration ; if left to itself, dawning of Love-lest a sad reality take the it will trail along the ground, soiling its blosplace of her hopeful, delicious dreamings. Well soms in the dust of earth, instead of towering may she deem that, however grieyous, separation aloft, radiant in the sunshine of heaven. now were better, infinitely better, than estrange- They err grievously, who suppose love to be ment hereafter. Better for the fair tree of love merely a sentiment capable of affording a temto be cut down in its pristine vigour, when the porary happiness to the heart, and shedding a heart

may find consolation in the fond remem- little romance over the days of youth; and they brance of its beauty, and the perpetual fragrance err as fatally who suppose it an engrossing pasit has left behind, than for it to flourish awhile sion, tending to enslave the heart and mind, and only to wither and leave utterly desolate the spot attach them closer to things of earth. It is where it had bloomed. Hard and almost impos- neither. It is certainly the source of very great sible as it would be for that young bride to re- happiness, but it is chiefly valuable as being a ceive a farewell pressure from the hand she means, and one of the most efficacious of means, loves, and meet for the last time that tender of enabling us to fulfil the paramount object of glance which gleams upon her soul like sun-life--the benefiting or improving of ourselves shine, it would be less painful than to risk en- and others. Let the young bride then no longer countering hereafter angry frowns or perhaps only exult in the powerful feelings of her heart cold looks from him. To her now there scarcely as a source of present happiness, nor only dread appears anything so terrible in the whole world - lest they become a cause of future sorrow; let any anguish would be preferable to such sor- her rejoice rather that so precious a means has row. She comforts herself, however, with the I been confided to her to advance her own rege

« PreviousContinue »