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EVENING THE SECOND.
Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face,
The mirror where the stars and mountains view
The stillness of their aspect in each trace
Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue.
WELL, dearest Minna, amid fog and rain, hail and snow, we reached Simplon, the highest village in the old world. I do not know, after all, a more comfortable half-hour in a traveller's day than that which succeeds his arrival at a good inn. At early morning we set off with bright hopes and elated spirits; we gaze with rapture on the secluded village, the sunny sky, the picturesque costume; but day advances, our spirits flag; on a nearer approach we find that the village is ill-built, that the gay colours of the peasants' dress hide dirt and poverty; the sky darkens; we lower our expectations, and bethink ourselves of looking out for comfort only. Is it not thus also in the journey through life? Well for us if we be not disappointed in our more moderate hopes.
And we praised the
The salon of the little mountain inn afforded a very exhilarating spectacle to us, tired, hungry, and cold as we were. A floor of the brightest wood, a crackling, blazing, heart-enlivening fire, a table spread with honey, peaches, and grapes, not to mention good brown bread and plenty of it. This was the pleasant sight that greeted our eyes as we entered and bade farewell to the rain and sleet. good things on the table, and did eat thereof, and were satisfied; and we threw a fresh faggot on the sparkling fire, and ranged the chesnuts in triple rows upon the hearth, and drew our chairs round in a merry circle, and listened to the hail that pelted now in right earnest against the casement, and to the wind that howled dismally among the mountain passes, and to the hoarse murmurs of the swollen hill torrents, and we lifted up our hearts in gratitude, and owned that we were snugly sheltered from the blast. Even Harry, the Sardanapalus of our party, declared that he began, after all the horrors of the day, to wax comfortable. Sir Mark, after his usual " Enfin, nous sommes ici!" threw himself back in his easy chair, placed in the very warmest corner, with a look of indefinable satisfaction on his handsome, goodhumoured countenance. Emmy and Agnes, seated on a low stool at their mother's feet, were so fortunate as to possess themselves of two fine, large, purring cats, which, after much coaxing, suffered themselves to be stroked into quiet slumber. betook herself to pencilling some splendid Alpine flowers we had collected in the morning, and Violet to drying the same; while our kind reader reminded us that it was the evening destined to an examination
of the portfolio. Three weeks had elapsed since it had been last opened, spent for the greater part in Geneva; but we had not been idle. There were hours of lonely thought in the morning sail or ramble, and evenings of busy scribbling at our happy fireside, in the intervals of conversation, and Lady Julian smiled when she said: "Our ardour, far from decreasing as I expected it would, seems to grow with what it feeds on. My task, I see, will be of longer continuance than it was at Fontainebleau. What have we here? We will begin with the shortest piece."
Hail to thee, Leman! Hail to thee, thou lovely lake! A sunny day, and the sky is blue, as though it mirrored the waters of Italy. The little waves seem to leap up in very joy to greet the monarch of the day. A bird with a silver wing, like the promise of hope, is seen hovering for a moment and then disappears. There is a slight snow wreath on the uppermost edge of the bright wave. It is the trimming of the gala robe with which the fair lake has decked herself to meet the sun-god. The lake is skirted by low, blue hills, and they smile in the waters, and the semblance is lovelier than the reality. And, lo! a little fairy boat from behind that jutting headland. We throw ourselves into it. A light breeze arises, just enough to fill the white sail; we recline at our ease, and whisper to our own heart: "Now for a dream of happiness!" There is solitude on the waters, and silence, but not deep silence. Ever and anon,
the busy hum of the distant city steals on the ear, and tells of the world and of mankind; and now and then the light carolling of a happy heart is heard; it comes from the poor fishermen as their slight skiff passes near our own. Away, away from the city! The world is a vanity, and mankind are worse than vain. Away! away! we would be alone! On, on! over the peaceful bosom of the lake. We are shut in by the mountains, and by the blue hills quite. There was an opening, it became gradually imperceptible, now it is lost. We are surrounded by mountains, some near, some blue in the distance, and towering above all, the snow-capped Mont Blanc. Can it really be snow when the air is balm, and the valley dropped with flower bells? There is solitude on the waters, and now there is perfect silence. Now to throw ourselves back, to gaze on the blue sky, and let the heart indulge in its own sweet reverie! Now to think on our loved one - the loved in vain the lost; now to dream of that happy moment when the spirit shall be freed and shall join her who was dearer in life than life itself! Dearer than life! - oh what has life been, since last we parted; but a weariness, a vanity, a vexation of spirit! Of all the gifts belonging to this lower earth, surely there is none dearer to the soul than this one of mortality. Oh! if in those bright and blessed worlds that are afar off, beyond that clear sky on which we gaze so often and so passionately if there, our loved one awaits our arrival, how joyfully, how gratefully shall we welcome death. Death!-what is death, but the beginning of a better life-the portal of a fairer kingdom the means by which we hope to realise
those dreams of bliss which are imagined here? We have revelled in the future, let us revert to the past. Pass we slightly over the few last years. We will forget in this blessed hour, on these tranquil waters, the sorrows and the cares, the toils and the turmoils, that belong to middle life. Go we back to the time when we knew not of these things, when our own heart was as a fathomless well of pure, unutterable happiness; when we deemed that men were good, that the earth was lovely, and our own joyous feelings unchanging; when time had not yet shown us the falsehood of hope's colouring. We have learned truth since then. We have gained experience. It came with our first sorrow, and now we know the earth to be barren, and our fellow-mortals selfish, and our own pleasures all, all perishing, and we sigh over our knowledge.
Yet dear is the memory of those hours of ignorance, those hours of youth, and it is well sometimes in our busy after-life to recall them. Well, in such a scene as this, to dwell on the fairest portion of our life's history. Our hour of deep enjoyment is over, but let us carry on its influence with us, it will render us less anxious about the fretting cares of life — it will render us more resigned to the troubles of the world we hope to quit. Farewell to thee, Lake Leman. Blessed are the influences thou dost exercise, in thy quiet beauty, over the wounded spirit. Farewell to thee! Thou art lovely in thy calmness.
Hail to thee! thrice hail to thee, Lake Leman! I have sung of thee in thy stillness, let me now sing of thee in thy storms. Lo, a voice has gone forth,