Page images

moment of any relative idea ; his exclama- of varied hue shooting up from leafy beds, tion was one of mere animal surprise, such and pointing faithfully to the shining sky; as his dog might have uttered, had he pos- or crowns of golden splendour mounted sessed the organs of speech. And yet the upon fragile stems; or purple wreaths that same man, when he seized his pencil, and never touched a human brow; all bursting gave up his imagination to the full force of forth, blooming and then fading, with endthose impressions which, if we may judge less succession in the midst of untrodden by his works, few have felt more intensely, wilds ;-in rain and sunshine, in silent night, was able to portray nature, not merely seen and glowing day, with an end and purpose as it is in any given section of the earth's in their brief existence inscrutable to the surface, but to group together, and embody mind of man. in one scene, all that is most harmonious in The flowers of the garden, though roz the quickly changing and diversified beauties sessing more richness and gorgeous beauty, of wood and water-hill and valley-sombre are less poetical, because we see too clearly shade and glowing sunshine--deep solitudes, in their arrangement and culture, the art and resplendent heavens.

and labour of man; we are reminded at There is poetry in the hum of bees, when every group of the work of the spade, and the orchards are in bloom, and the sun is perceive at once and without mystery, why shining in unclouded spendour upon the they have been planted in the exact spot waving meadows, and the garden is rich- where they now grow. ly spangled with spring flowers. There There is poetry in the first contemplation is poetry in the hum of the bee, because it of those numerous islands which gem the brings back to us, as in a dream, the memo- southern ocean-poetry in the majestic hills ry of bygone days, when our hearts were that rise one above another, their varied alive to the happiness of childhood—the time peaks and precipices clear and bright in when we could lie down upon the green bank unclouded sunshine, and their very sunimits and enjoy the stillness of summer's noon, clothed with unfading verdure; while burstwhen our hopes were in the blossoms of the ing from amongst their deep recesses are orchard, our delight in the sun-shine, our un- innumerable streams that glide down their tiring rambles in the meadows, and our per- rugged sides, now glancing out like threads petual amusement in the scented flowers. of silver, now hidden in shade and darhness, Since these days, time has rolled over us until they find their way into the broad and with such a diversity of incident, bringing silent lagoon, where the angry surf subsides, so many changes in our modes of living and and the mountains, woods, and streanis, are thinking, that we have learned, perhaps at seen again reflected in the glassy mirror of some cost, to analyze our feelings, and to the unruilled water-unruffled save by the say, rather than feel, that there is poetry in rapid gliding of the light canoe, that darts the hum of bees.

among the coral rocks, and then lies moored But let one of these honey-laden wander- in still water beneath some stately tree, ers find his way into our apartment, and whose leafy boughs form a welcome canopy while he struggles with frantic efforts to of shade for the luxuriant revellers in that escape through the closed window, we cease sunny clime. to find pleasure in his busy hum.

Time was when those who had rejoiced There is poetry in the flowers that grow over the first contemplation of this scene in sweet profusion upon wild and unculti were compelled to mourn over the contrast vated spots of earth, exposing their delicate which ignorance and barbarism presented eaves to the tread of the rude inhabitants on a nearer view, but now, blessed be the of the wilderness, and spreading forth their power that can harmonize the heart of man scented charms to the careless mountain with all that is grateful and genial in the wind-in the thousand, thousand little stars external world, the traveller approaching, of beauty looking forth like eyes, with no and beholding this lovely picture, need no eye to look again; or cups that seem formed longer shrink from the horrors which a to catch the dew drops; or spiral pyramids closer inspection formerly revealed.

If external nature abounds with poetry, be able to expatiate in the realms of nature low much more forcibly does it pervade with the most perfect fruition of delight. the faculties and sentiments of the human mud. Consider only three-love, hope, and memory. What power even in the visions of the alchemist was ever able to transform like the passion of love ? Invest INDIVIDUAL ASSOCIATIONS. ing what is real with all that we desire, converting deformity into loveliness, ex The difference of taste not unfrequently changing discord for harmony, giving to the found in persons whose station and habits eye the exquisite faculty of beautifying of life are similar may be attributed both to whatever it beholds, and to the ear a secret individral conformation, and to those incharm that turns every sound to music. stances of early bias received from local cirAnd hope would be hope no longer if it did cumstances which none can remember, and not paint the future in the colours we most which, consequently, no pen can record. admire. Its very existence depends upon | That variety of taste is chiefly owing to the the power it possesses to sweeten to the influence of association, is shown by those latest dregs, the otherwise bitter cup of life. minor preferences or antipathies which cerYet love and hope may be degraded by the tain individuals evince for things possessing salse estimate we sometimes form of what is no quality inherent in themselves to justify worthy of our admiration. Passion too such peculiar choice or rejection, and which often asserts her mastery over both, compell- have no corresponding value in the opinion ing her blind and willing slaves to call evil of mankind in general. good, and good evil; while memory, if not Without returning to the days of infancy, always faithful to her trust, is at least dis- when the first impressions were made upon posed to hold it charitably, and thus pre- our senses, when our eyes were first able to serves in their genuine distinctness, the fair- see, and our ears to hear, it would be imest passages of life, but kindly obscures possible to trace to their origin all our pecuthose which are most revolting in remem- liarities of taste and feeling, or to assign the brance. In looking back upon the past, precise reason why we are subject to sensahow little that is sordid, mean, or selfish, tions of pleasure or disgust from causes appears conspicuous now. Past hours of which do not influence the rest of mankind simple, every-day enjoyment, are invested in a similar manner-sensations which, from with a charm they knew not at the time. their singularity, and, 10 others, apparent A veil is thrown over the petty cares of by- absurd ty, necessarily fall under the stigma

its of caprice

SO lovely in the distance, that we almost per- of beauty and melody may have been desuade ourselves it was better to weep such rived from the countenance of the kind nurse tears as we wept then, than to smile as we who first smiled upon him in his cradle, and sinile now.

the sweet voice that first sung him to sleep; But why pursue this theme? It is evi- or of deformity and discord from the harsh dent that neither sounds, objects, nor sub-brow whose frowns he first learned to dread, jects of contemplation are poetical in them and the voice whose threatening tones were selves, but in their associations; and that they followed by punishment and pain. are so just in proportion as these associa If the taste of one individual is gratified tions are intellectual and refined. Nature is by a picture upon which a strong and vivid full of poetry, írom the high mountain to the light is thrown, and another prefers that sheltered valley, from the bleak promontory which exhibits the cool tints of a cloudy alto the myrtle grove, from the star-lit hea- mosphere, it is attributed to some peculiarity vens to the slumbering earth ; and the mind in their several organs of sight; but is it not that can most divest itself of ideas and sen- equally possible to be in some measure owsations belonging exclusively to matter, willing to one having been too much confined to

darkness in his infancy, and the other pain- negro slaves; wless tl:at schoolboys have fully exposed to the glare of too much light? generally enjoyed the honour of naming

These may appear but idle speculations, their laihers' dors, when they were more since we are, and ever must remain in want familiar with Cæsar's Commentaries, than of that marter key to the human under- ! with the character of the illustrious Roman. standing the knowledge of the state of the Wiy are we not able for many years after infant niind, its degree of susceptibility, and our emancipation, to perceive and relish the the manner in which it first receives in pres- beauties of those selections from the ablest sions Uirough the organs of sense. So far poets, which we were compelled to learn by as we can recollect, however, it is clear to heart, as puniriments at school ? It is be- ' all who will take the trouble to examine the cause our first acquaintance with them was subject, that strong partialities and preju- formed under sensations of pain and compuldices are imbibed in very early life, beföre sion, which time is long in wearing out. we are capable of reasoning, and that these If, by the mere sound of a name, such diri soinetimes remain with us to the last. ferent sensations are excited in different

There are seldom two persons who agree minds, how much more extensive must be exactly in their admiration of the proper the variety of those called up by words of names of individuals. One approves what more comprehensive si znification! Let us the other rejects, and scarcely one instance suppose four individuals a newly elected i in twenty occurs in which their feelings are inember of parliament, a tradesian, a pau- 1 the same: nor is it merely the harmony or per, and a poet-each at liberty 10 pursue discord of the sound which occasions their his own retiections, when the word winter is preterence or dilke. Each attaches to the suddenly introduced to his mind. The !! naine in q.lostion a distinct character, most statesman immediately thinks of the next probably owing to some association of ideas convocation of the representatives of the between that name and a certain individual people, when he shall stand forth to make known in early lite; and though they may his maiden speech; of the important subhave both known and lived arnongst the jects that will, probably, be laid before the same individuals, it is barilly probable that conrideration of the house, of the part he two minds should have regarded them pre- shall feel himseli called upon to take in the cisely in the same manner. Hence from discussion of these, and how he may be able ditlerent associations arises a diference of' to act so as to satirty the claims ot' his contaste.

stituents, and his conscience, without otlendIn the present state of society there are ing either. The tradesinan thinks of his few persons who have not, in the course of biis, and his bail debts; of the price of their reading, become familiarized with coals, and the winter fashions. The pauper Scripture names earlier than with any other; thinks-and shivers while he thinks-of the and this, one would suppose, should lead to cold blasts of' tiat inclement season, of the their being generally preferred and adopted. various signs and prophecies that tortell a Yet so far from this being the case, they are hard winter, and of how much, or rather many of them regarded with a degree of how little the parish overseers will be likely ridicule and disgust, which can only be ac to allow to his necessities for clothing, fioul, counted for by our first becoming acquainted and fire. By a slighe, and almost instantawith them before we have been inspired neous transition of thouolit, one of these with love, gratitude, or reverence for the thinkers has already arrived at the idea of

1 Record in which they are found. Nor is it conscience, another at that of fashion, and a easy to account for the perversion of the third at that of fire. But the poet (provided' fine, full-sounding Roman names, in their he be not identified with the pauper) panus ; usual application to our dogs, and other ani- | in over subjects ot' merely local interest. mals; and next to them to those miserable knows no bounds to his a-sociations. His outcasts from human fellowship, which a | lively and unsliachled fancy first carries hin profersedly Christian world has deemed norihirard, to those frozen regions which unworthy of a Christian nomenclature-thie i man has visited but in thought. Here be

[ocr errors]

floats through the thin and piercing air, then before his mind's eye the picture of a brilglides upon a sea of ice, or looks down from liant sunset, he insensibly recalls that scenhills of everlasting snow; until wearied with ery in the midst of which his youthful imagithe voiceless solitude, he seeks the abodes nation was first warmed into poetic life by of man, and follows the fur-clad Laplander : the “golden day's dæline." He sees, bright with his faithful reindeer over trackless and and gorgeous with sunbeams, the distant ul cultivated wastes. But the poet, though hill, which his boyish fancy taught him to & wanderer by profession, yet still faithful to believe it would be the height of happiness home and early attachments, returns after to climb ;-the sonbre woods that skirt the every wayward excursion to drink of his na- ' horizon—the valley, misty and indistinct betive well, and to enjoy the peace of his pa-, low--the wandering river, whose glancing ternal hearth. . Here, in the clime he loves , waters are here and there touched as they best, he beholds a scene of picturesque and gleam ont, with the radiance of the resplenfamiliar beauty—a still and cloudless morn- dent west-and while memory paints again ing, when the hoar frost is glittering upon the long deep shadows of the trees that every spray, and the trees, laden with a grew around his fat

er's dwelling, he feels fleecy burden, cast their deep shadows here the calm of that peaceful hour mingling with and there upon the silvery and unsullied bo- the thousand associations that combine to con of the sheeted earth. He sees the soli- form his most vivid and poetical idea of sunset. tary robin perched upon the leasless thorn,

In this manner we not unfrequently single i and hears its winter song of melancholy out from the works of art some favorite ob| sweetness-that plaintive touching strain to ject, upon which we bestow an interest en

which every human bosom echoes with a deer, a regard so earnest, that they wear kad response. But quickly comes the roar- the character of admiration which no pering blast, like a torrent rushing down from ceptible quality in the object itself can justily, the hills. The light snow is tossed like foam and which other beholders are unable to un | upon the waves of the wind; and the moun derstand. In a collection of paintings we tain pine, shaking off the frosty spangles I look around for those which are most worfrom his boughs, for one moment quails be- thy of general notice, when suddenly our fore the fury of the thundering tempest, and attention is struch with one little unpretendthen stands erect again upon the craycy ing picture, almost concealed in an obscure sieep, where his forefathers have stood for corner, and totally unobserved by any one a res. Night gathers in with darkness and beside. It is the representation of a village dismay, and while the moaning of the ven- church--the very church where we first erable oak resounds through the forest like learned to feel, and, in part, to understand the voice of a mighty and unseen fpirit, and the solemnity of the Sabbath. Beside its the bellowing of the bla-t seems mingled venerable walls are the last habitations of with the wilder shrieks of bewildered travel our kiudred; and beneath that dark and lers, or seamen perishing on the deep, the mournful yew is the ancient pastor's grave. poet beholde in the distance the glimmering Here is the winding path so familiar to our lights of some hospitable mansion, and in an steps, when we trod the earth more lightly instant he is transported to a scene of happi- | than we do now-the stile on which the litness, glowing with social comforts, festivity, tle orphan girl used to sit, while her brothers and glee; where the afirighted wanderer were at play--and the low bench beside the sinds safety, the weary are welcomed to re- cottage-door, where the ancient dame used pose, and the wretched exchange their tears to pore over her Bible in the bright funfor joy.

shine. Perhaps the wheels of Tinc have Impressions made upon our minds by lo- rolled over us with no gentle pressure since cal circumsiances, are frequently of so deep we last beheld that scene ,-perhaps the darkand durable a nature, as to outlive all the ness of our present lot n akes the brightness accidents of chance and change which oc of the past more bright. Whatever the cure to us in aller life. Should the poet, or caure may be, our gaze is fixed and fascithe painter in his study, endeavour to place nated, and we turn away from the more

wonderful productions of art, to muse upon though quite as common, and equally nathat little picture again, and again, when all tural, is not so generally understood. The but ourselves have passed it by without a room may be the least commodious in the thought.

house, the table the least convenient, the It is not, however, the earliest impressions chair the least easy, yet they are valued made upon the mind which are always the not the less, because they are associated most lasting or vivid. We are all subject with the image of one who was more dear, to the influence of strong and overpowering perhaps more dear than any one will ever associations with circunistances which occur

be again. in after life, and of which we retain a clear I have known the first wild rose of sumrecollection. We are apt to be deeply, yet mer gathered with such faithful recollecdifferently affected by certain kinds of music. tions, such deep and earnest love, such In the same apartment, and while the same yearnings of the heart for by-gone pleasures, air is sung or played by a minstrel un- that for a moment its beauty was obscured conscious of its secret power, and some of the by falling tears. The tolling of a bell after audience will be thrown into raptures of de- it has been heard for a departed friend, has light, applauding and calling forth the strain a tone of peculiar and painful solemnity. again with unabated enjoyment; while one, The face of one whom we have met with in whose sad heart the springs of memory comparative indifference in a season of hapare opened, will turn away unnoticed in that piness, is afterwards hailed with delight happy crowd, to hide the tears which the when it is all that remains to us of the past. thoughts of home and early days, when that The pebble that was gathered on a distant strain was first heard, lave called forth from shore, becomes valuable as a gem when we the eyes of a stranger in a strange land. “IT | know that we shall visit that land no more. I might always listen to that tune," ex There is no sound, however simple or sweet, claims one, “ I should never know unhappi- that may not be converted into discord when ness again!" “ Spare me that song of it calls up jarring sensations in the mind; mirth," is the secret prayer of the stranger; nor is there any melody in nature compara" it belongs to my own country. It tells me ble to the tones of the voice that has once of the beauty and gladness of my native land. spoken to the heart. Spare me that song of mirth; for my heart Rosseau wept on beholding the little comis sorrowful, and I am alone.”

mon flower that we call periwinkle. He Innumerable are the instances of daily, wept because he was alone, and it reminded and almost hourly occurrence, in which we him of the beloved friend at whose feet it perceive that some particular tone of feeling had been gathered. I remember being afis excited, but know not whence it takes its fected by this circumstance at a very early rise; as we listen to the wild music of the age, and the association has become so Æolian liarp, that varies perpetually from powerful, that, in looking at this flower, I one melody to another. We see the thrill always feel a sensation of melancholy, and ing chords, we hear the sweet and plaintive persuade myself that the pale blue star, half sound, but we know not with all our wisdom concealed beneath the dark green leaves, is what particular note the unseen minstrel like a soft blue eye that scarcely ventures to will next produce, nor can we calculate the look up from beneath the gloom of sorrow. vibrations caused by his powerful but invisi The crowing of the cock is generally conble hand.

sidered a lively and cheering sound; yet I When we hear the tender and affectionate knew one, who for many years could not expressicn, “I love this book because it wa hear a cock crow at midnight without senmy mother's,” we know at once why a bouk sations of anguish and horror, because it had approved by a mother's judgment should be once been painfully forced upon her notice valued by a child; but when we hear any while she was watching the dead. one say, "I prefer this room, this table, or A gentleman of my acquaintance, in speakthis cbair, to all others, because they be- ing to me of his mother's death, which was longed to my mother," the expression sudden and unexpected, descr.bed the day

« PreviousContinue »