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still hears the tread of the noisy dance-the music-the glad voices-and she feels what no heart is capable of feeling without a pang, that her presence is not necessary to the enjoyment of her reputed friends, and that when her head is laid within the grave they will still dance on, without being conscious that one familiar step is wanting in their merriment. Her soul is oppressed. She looks out beneath the high blue silent heavens, and the moon is there to welcome her as with a sister's smile. It is to the moon alone that all human beings can appeal with an inward sense of sympathy; and to the moon at last she ventures to utter that complaint, which no ear has ever heard. "It was not thus!" the melancholy strain begins, but tears-true, unaffected tears are rising, and she looks down upon the clustering jessamine, whose delicate stars gleam out in the moonbeams, and send forth their odorous perfumes upon the gales of night. It was not thus that she, that splendid mourner, weary with the weight of her own diamonds, and sick of the selfishness of her own chosen friends, looked up to the face of the pale moon, in those hours when the moon looks fairest-those happy hours when even she, the false one, was beloved. Her memory, the only faculty which she has not been able to pervert, returns to the bright season of sincerity and youth. Again she is walking by the side of one whom worlds could not have tempted to violate her confidence, or wound her love-one who was deserted for a worthless rival, in his turn to be cast off for another, and then a third, and so on, until the world at last became the only candidate for her affections, the only ruler of her heart. "It was not thus!" she exclaims, "that I was wont to look upon the moon. Oh! give me back the loves, the friendships of my early days. Restore the capability of trusting, even though I should still be deceived! Awaken in my soul the faculty of hope, though I should be disappointed still! Rekindle my affections, that I may feel the possibility of loving, though I should never be beloved again! Let me hear once more the voice of kindness, though it should be strange to mine ear! Let me listen to the language of truth, though it should condemn the whole of my past life!"
The mariner at midnight on the deep sea, looks forth when other eyes are sleeping, towards the bright opening in the eastern clouds, where the pale lustre of the rising moon gives welcome promise of her blessed visitation. Soon her full round orb appears in all its splendour, and the dark vapours float away, or, gliding gently past her beaming face, receive the soft reflection of her smile, before they pass into the undistinguishable chaos of night. High into the azure heavens she now ascends, while the lonely helmsman chants to the heedless gale the songs of his native land. He gazes upon the wide expanse of heaving water, and ever as his eye dwells upon that silvery track of light that seems to lure him away to another world, recollections which the bustle of the day keeps down, and thoughts dear as the miser's hoarded treasure, rise within his breast, fresh and spontaneous; and he thinks how the same moon shone upon the woodbine bower where he first wooed the village maid, who blushed in her innocent joy, and inwardly exulted in the short-lived happiness of being a sailor's bride. Has he not seen that bower again? Yes, and the woodbine was still lovely, but his bride had lost her maiden bloom, and the cares of a lonely and almost widowed wife had made her prematurely old. Again he has returned to that well-known spotthat haven of his dearest hopes and the babe that should have welcomed him with the kind name of father, was sleeping beneath a little grassy mound in the churchyard, while he had been far away in its hour of agony, and its last cry had been unheard by him. Once more he has returned to his deserted home. The mother too was gone to her place of rest, and two humble graves side by side were all the memorial that remained of his domestic happiness. What then? Does he wish that his marriage day had never dawned? would he extinguish the memory of the past? No, though amidst the stir of the busy day, or amongst his jovial comrades he thinks little of his wife and child, yet in the solitude of the night watches when the moon is above his head, and no sound is to be heard but the ripple of the water against the vessel's side, he blesses that mild and gentle remem
brancer, that she visits him in his loneliness, to tell him those tales of tenderness to which his ear has become strange, and to open in his bold and hardy bosom those sweet fountains of human love which transform the character of the rude sailor into that of the avenger of the injured, the father of the orphan, and the protector of the helpless.
Thus ever sweet and pleasant to the watchful eyes of the wayfaring man, is the moon as she rises from her throne of clouds. He turns to gaze upon that welcome face, and thinks how many well-known and familiar looks are directed to the same object. Perchance he has been a wanderer through many lands, a voyager over the deep seas, a pilgrim of the world; yet ever on his wayward course, the same mild moon has been like a faithful and untiring friend, speaking to him amongst a strange people in the native language of his heart, and telling through the lonely night, sweet tidings of his wished-for home. Whether amid snow covered hills, through the frozen | wilderness, along the skirts of the pine forest, far, far away, she guides the solitary Laplander? or, in more sultry climes looks down through the foliage of the waving palm tree, and glances over the bright surface of the welcome waters, where the Indian laves his burning feet: whether high above the tower, the minaret, or stately dome, she looks down, a silent and unmoved spectator, upon the thickly-peopled city, the perpetual stir, the hurry and the rush of busy life; or far away in the silence and solitude of some lone isle of the ocean, touching with her sparkling radiance the leaves and blossoms of that nameless and uncultured garden, and the rippling waves that rise and fall, and lull themselves to rest upon that unknown shore: whether through the richly curtained window of the palace, her modest light steals gently in, and gliding over the marble floor, or along the tapestried walls, rest in its silence and purity upon the crimson canopy of kings; or where the cottage of the herdsman stands upon the lone moor, silvers the mossy turf beside his door, covering the grey thatch of the mouldering roof with her garment of beauty, and looking in with her quiet and approving smile
upon his homely meal, blessing the cup of which he drinks, and lighting the parents' way, as they seek the couch of their slumbering cherubs to ask a blessing for the coming day, to return thanks for the past, and then to enjoy the refreshment of peaceful and untroubled sleep; over the waste unpeopled desert, the rich and fertile fields which surround the habitations of men, the tempest-troubled ocean, or the hive of human industry, it is the same moon that meets the traveller's anxious gaze, and ever on his lonely and distant course he feels it to be the same whose rays are interwoven with the thread of his early existence.
Yes, it is the same moon whose silver crescent was hung in the blue heavens when the first night shadowed the infant world with its mighty and mysterious wing. It is the same moon that rocks the restless tides from shore to shore, with a monotony of motion that marks out the different epochs in the life of man, and over-rules his most momentous actions with a power which he is unable either to baffle or subdue. It is the same moon for the mystic celebration of whose metamorphoses, the king of Israel erected an edifice, the most splendid that human ingenuity could invent, or human labour construct. It is the same moon for the visible completion of whose perfect radiance, the Spartans, while yet their souls were fired with the noblest ambition, sacrificed their share of glory in the memorable field of Marathon. It is the same moon which inspires the most ecstatic dreams of the enthusiast, giving to his earth-born visions, a refinement and sublimity, which belong only to that imaginative realm, over which the queen of night presides. It is the same moon upon which the eyes of countless myriads are nightly gazing, but which never yet inspired one unholy thought, awakened one mean or sordid feeling, or called forth one passion inimical to the maintenance of "peace on earth and goodwill towards men." It is the same moon which personifies in her refulgent orb that bright link of spiritual connection between this troubled life, and one that is without anxiety, and without tears; hanging her single lamp of ineffable radiance above our nightly slumbers, like a beacon of hope to lure us to a better land-returning
again, and again to this earthly sphere, to warn us of the danger of delay, to cherish our heavenward aspirations, and to teach us that there is a love, (Oh! how unlike the love of man!) as constant and untiring in its faithfulness, as slow to avenge disobedience and neglect.
THE POETRY OF RURAL LIFE.
BEFORE entirely quitting the fascinating employment of tracing out the poetical associations of particular objects in nature, it is necessary to add a few remarks upon the effect produced upon the mind by rural scenery in general.
The great difficulty in the task I have undertaken, a difficulty which presents itself most strikingly at this stage of the work, is to avoid the folly of being too sentimental, or rather to escape the charge of wishing to lead the mind away from what is substantially useful, to that which is merely visionary. If the major part of society in the present day consisted of love-stricken poets and languishing girls, mine would indeed be a scheme unnecessary and ill devised; but as the tendency of our present system of education, our conversation, habits, and modes of thinking, is towards the direct opposite of sentimentality, we may fairly presume, that in the opinion of all candid and competent judges, this work will be considered harmless, to say the least of it; and that the writer will have due credit given for an earnest endeavor to assist in rescuing the spirit of poesy from the oppression of vulgar tyranny, and in guarding the temple of the muses from the profanations of avarice and discord.
The character of the cultivated portion of the present race of mankind is too practical, too bustling, too commercial, I might almost say, too material, to admit of the least apprehension that ideas should be brought to stand in the place of facts, that learning should be superseded by sensibility, or that vague notions about the essences of things should be preferred to a just and circumstantial knowledge of the actual substances of those things themselves.
It is unnecessary to state, that happiness, in one shape or another, is the great end we have in view, in all our pursuits and avocations; whether that happiness consists in amassing or expending money; in our personal and sensual gratifications, or in the aggrandisement of others; in maintaining the station to which, by birth or education, we have become attached, or in raising ourselves to a higher scale of society; in obtain- | ing and securing to ourselves the refinements and luxuries of life, or in cultivating the mental powers; in looking far and deep, both into the visible and the intellectual world, for those principles of consistency, beauty, and harmony, which owe their development to an almighty hand; and in recognising the work of that hand in every thing around and within us, from the simplest object of sense, to the most sublime and majestic source of contemplation.
The question is not, under which of these forms mankind is most addicted to look for happiness, but under which of these forms the happiness there in found, is likely to be most conducive to the cultivation and refinement of that part of his nature which is committed to him as a sacred trust, and will have to be rendered up, either elevated or debased, for eternity. I know that poetry is not religion; and that a man may dwell in a region of poetical ideas, yet far from his God: but we learn from the Holy Scriptures, whose whole language is that of poetry, as well as by the slightest experimental | knowledge of the subject, that poetry may be intimately associated with religion, and that, so far from weakening its practical influence, it may be woven in with our familiar duties, so as to beautify what would otherwise be repulsive, to sweeten what is bitter, and to elevate what we have been accustomed to regard as mean or degraded.
It is not thus with sordid or artificial life. Poetry neither can, nor will dwell there. The atmosphere is too dense, and those who inhale it acquire a taste for its impurities, upon the same principle as that on which the victim of habits more gross and vicious learns to love the odour of the deleterious bowl, because it is associated with the gratification of his brutal appetites.
I am far from wishing that all men were
poets; or that the practical and necessary rules of education, should give place to the lawless vagaries of fancy, or the impulse of feelings uncontrolled: but I do wish that these rules and the attention they require, did not occupy the whole season of youth, without leaving time then to feel that they are essential. I do wish that men and women too, would sometimes pause in their hurry after mere verbal knowledge, to think for themselves; and turn away occasionally from the pile of fresh books which every day sees placed before them, to study that which never was, and never can be written-the wide field of nature; not only as it lies spread before their actual view, but as it expands in their own minds, teaching them by the gradual unfolding of the eternal principles of truth, that we have faculties of the heart, as well as of the head, and that we must hereafter render an account of a moral as well as of an intellectual nature.
poet of eminence in his art, and but few intellectual characters remarkable for the best use of the highest endowments, ever lived, who had not at some time or other of their lives, studied nature for themselves, imbibed strong impressions from their own observation of the external world, and from these impressions drawn conclusions of the utmost importance to society at large.
He whose mind is once deeply imbued with poetic feeling, may afterwards enter into the ordinary concerns of life, and even engage in the active commerce of the world, without losing his elevated character. It is only when substituted for common sense, that poetic feeling can be absurd or contemptible. Blended with our domestic occupations, its office is to soften, harmonize, and refine; and carried along with us through the more conspicuous duties of social and public life, it is well calculated to remind us, that there is a higher ambition than that of accumulating wealth, and that we have capabilities for intellectual happiness, which may be freely and fully exercised without interference with our worldly interests.
It is not then by merely dwelling in the country, that men become poetical; nor by working their way by fair and honourable means, to pecuniary independence, that they necessarily sacrifice the best part of their nature: though it must be confessed, that the ordinary routine of city life, as it is generally conducted, has a tendency to extinguish, rather than excite poetic genius. The principal reason why it does this, is obvious to the candid observer. The mind as well as the body is always in need of food, and this necessity it naturally prefers to supply, with the least possible expense of pain or labour. If facts of great number and variety are continually set before us, little attention will be paid to principles; because facts can
How far my impressions in favor of a country life, may arise from early habit and association, I am not prepared to say; and I must be candid enough to grant, that the state of society in remote and isolated districts, does not present an aspect at all calculated to support the idea that our moral faculties are improved in proportion to the means we enjoy of cultivating an acquaintance with external nature; but the fact that this opportunity alone is insufficient to produce the effect, by no means proves, that in conjunction with other advantages it is not powerfully conducive to the end desired. In the country, man may be as brutish, as stultified, and as incapable of every gentle or sublime emotion, as in the city he may be gross, selfish and insensible to the happiness and misery of others: but it is no more the fault of nature when the eye has not been opened to behold her beauties, than it is the fault of the musician when his auditors are without the sense of hearing. I speak of the enjoy-be received with no exertion, while princiment which nature is capable of affording, not of that which it necessarily forces upon man, whether he looks for it or not; nor aoes the fact, that remote dwellers in the country have amongst themselves a very low standard of intellectual merit, prove anything against my argument; since I believe it may be asserted with confidence, that no
ples must be investigated and examined, to be in any degree understood. In towns, the news of the day is eagerly inquired after, and public journals, travellers, and frequent meetings, furnish for the general demand a constant supply of facts; while in the country even facts have often to be sought for with considerable labour and industry, and
can only be enjoyed, with long intervals between every fresh accession of intelligence. Thus a real energetic mind, learns to connect an immense number of ideas, with the few facts which do transpire in the country; but a mind of quiet and lethargic character, sinks into nothingness, and one of still lower grade, active only for loose or malicious purposes, fills up the void in social communion, with inferences falsely drawn, uncharitable inuendos ingeniously thrown out, and conclusions too frequently both injurious and unjust.
the glory of the earth, for reasons which neither you nor we can understand; and that man, when he boasts too proudly of his superiority in the creation, forgets that in the most malignant and injurious attribute of the brute he is at least his equal.
And then our returning swallows, our seedtime, and harvest, our rains and thunder storms, of which you think so little; why they supply us with inexhaustible food for deep anxiety, earnest calculation, ardent hope, and trembling fear; and sometimes with gratitude as warm as if the success which crowned our labours, was visibly and palpably bestowed immediately by the hand of the Giver of all good. We hail the birds of spring, as the blessed messengers of hope
the seed is scattered in faith-the harvest is reaped in joy-the rains descend, and we give thanks for the opening of those fountains, whose source, and whose seal is above -the thunders roll, and we bow before the terrors of the Almighty.
I have said that a great deal may be made of the few facts which do transpire in the country. "Impossible !" exclaims the precocious youth, learned alone in civic lore. "You only hear the news once a week, and as to your facts, what are they? The return of the swallow, seedtime, and harvest, a shower of rain, or a thunder storm; and what is all this to the community at large?" I answer, it is a great deal to those individuals who choose to reflect. It is true we are sometimes a week later than you, in learning what have been the movements of a certain foreign army, that a cabinet minister has been dismissed, and that an elopement has taken place in high life. There are even facts similar to these, which occur without ever reaching us at all, which is a proof that they are of as little importance to us, as the building of our rooks, the scattering of our grain, or the reaping of our corn to you. You snatch up the Morning Post, and read of this interesting elopement; we learn with as much interest that the kite has seized our favourite dove. You read that a once popular statesman has been overthrown, by the strength of opposing party; we hear that a former servant of our own, has been dismissed from his place. You read of the dismemberment of Poland; we are startled with the intelligence, a few hours earlier, that the fox has been making dreadful ravages amongst our poultry. What follows? Our conclusions are ating in its mountain cradle at the feet of its least as philosophical as yours, and if you take time to reflect, it is most probable they will both amount to this-that the weak must be the victims of the strong, all the world over; that propensities to rapine, cruelty, and wrong, are permitted to deface
Man may, unquestionably, enjoy the same sensations in the city. Surrounded by the work of human hands, he may look up and bless the power which bestowed such faculties and means upon his creatures; but it is a fact which few will pretend to deny, that the more the mind is interested and occupied with artificial things, the more it is carried away from the truth that is in nature; and the greater the number of objects which intervene between us and the great First Cause of all, the less fixed and reverential are our views of heaven. We know by reasoning that God is no more present in the rolling thunder than in the social meeting, or the secret thought; but our impressions are often stronger and deeper than our reasoning: and when we stand alone in the silent night, and look up to the starry heavens; when we watch the play of the lightning, or listen to the roaring blast; when we gaze upon the wide expanse of heaving ocean, or on the peaceful bosom of the lake, slumber
majestic guardians, whose brows are in the sky, mantled with clouds, or crowned with golden glory; when we watch the silvery fall of summer's evening dew, the sunset in the west, or the moon's uprising over the eastern hills, we naturally look upon these in