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Despairing quacks with curses fled the place,
Thrice happy man! enabled to pursue
And what! no monument, inscription, stone !
race, his form, his name, almost unknown!
Early Recollections.—New MONTHLY MAGAZINE. It is delightful to fling a glance back to our early years, and recall our boyish actions, glittering with the light of hope and the sanguine expectations of incipient being. But the remembrance of our sensations when we were full of elasticity, when life was new, and every sense and relish keen, when the eye saw nothing but a world of beauty and glory around, every object glittering in golden resplendency-is the most agreeable thing of all.
The recollection of boyish actions gives small gratification to persons of mature years, except for what may, perchance, be associated with them. But youthful sensations, experienced when the edge of enjoyment was most keen, and the senses exquisitely susceptible, furnish delightful recollections, that cling around some of us, in the last stage of life, like the principle of being itself. How do we recollect the exquisite taste of a particular fruit or dish to have been then! how delicious a cool draught from the running stream! A landscape, a particular tree, a field, how much better defined and delightfully coloured then, than they ever appeared afterwards!
There was a single tree opposite the door of my father's house : I remember, even now, how every limb branched off, and that I thought no tree could be finer or larger. I loved its shade; I played under it for years; but when I visited it, after my first absence for a few months from home, though I recognised it with intense interest, it appeared lessened in size; it was an object I loved, but as a tree it no longer attracted wonder at its dimensions. During my absence I had travelled in a forest of much larger trees, and the pleasure and well-defined image in
which I owed to the singleness of this object, I never again experienced in observing another.
Can I ever forget the sunny side of the wood, where I used to linger away my hol'ydays among the falling leaves of the trees in autumn! I can recall the very smell of the sere foliage to recollection; and the sound of the dashing water is even now in my ear. The rustling of the boughs, the sparkling of the stream, the gnarled trunks of the old oaks around, long since levelled by the axe, left impressions only to be obliterated by death. The pleasure I then felt was undefinable; but I was satisfied to enjoy without caring whence my enjoyment arose.
The old church-yard and its yew-trees, where I sacrilegiously enjoyed my pastimes among the dead, and the ivied tower, the belfry of which I frequently ascended, and wondered at the skill, which could form such ponderous masses as the bells, and lift them so high,-these were objects that, on Sundays particularly, often filled my mind, upon viewing them, with a sensation that cannot be put into language.
It was not joy, but a soothing, tranquil delight, that made me forget, for an instant, that I had any desire in the world unsatisfied. I have often thought since, that this state of mind must have approached pretty closely to happiness. As we passed the church-way path to the old Gothic porch on Sundays, I used to spell the inscriptions on the tombs, and wonder at the length of a life that exceeded sixty or seventy years; for days then passed slower than weeks pass now.
I visited, the other day, the school-room where I had been once the drudge of a system of learning, the end of which I could not understand, and where, as was then the fashion, every method taken seemed intended to disgust the scholar with those studies he should be taught to love. I saw my name cut in the desk; I looked again on my old
my youthful recollections of the worse than eastern slavery I there endured, made me regard what I saw with a feeling of peculiar distaste.
If one thing more than another prevent my desiring the days of my youth to return, it is the horror I feel for the despotism of the pedagogue. For years after I left school, I looked at the classics with disgust. I remembered the heart-burnings, the tears, and the pains, the monkish method of teaching—now almost wholly confined to our public schools—had caused me. It was long before I could take up a Horace, much less enjoy its perusal.
It was not thus with the places I visited during the short space of cessation from task and toil that the week allowed. The meadow, where, in true jovialness of heart, I had leaped, and raced, and played—this recalled the contentedness of mind, and the overflowing tide of delight I once experienced, when, climbing the stile which led into it, I left behind me the book and the task. · How the sunshine of the youthful breast burst forth upon me, and the gushing spirit of unreined and innocent exhilaration braced every fibre, and rushed through every vein!
The sun has never shone so brilliantly since. How fragrant were the flowers ! How deep the azure of the sky! How vivid were the hues of nature! How intense the short, lived sensations of pain and pleasure! How generous were all impulses! How confiding, open, and upright, all actions! “ Inhumanity to the distressed, and insolence to the fallen," those besetting sins of manhood, how utterly strangers to the heart! How little of sordid interests, and how much of intrepid honesty, was then displayed! *
The sensations peculiar to youth, being the result of impulse rather than reflection, have the advantage over those of manhood, however the pride of reason may give the latter the superiority. In manhood there is always a burden of thought bearing on the wheels of enjoyment. In man hood, too, we have the misfortune of seeing the wrecks of early associations scattered every where around us. Youth can see nothing of this. It can take no review of antecedent pleasures or pains that become such a source of melancholy emotion in mature years. It has never sauntered through the rooms of a building, and recalled early days spent under its roof.
I remember my feelings on an occasion of this sort, when I was like a traveller on the plain of Babylon, wondering
where all, that had once been to me so great and mighty, then was; in what gulf the sounds of merriment, that once reverberated from the walls, the master, the domestic, the aged, and the young, had disappeared. Our early recollections are pleasing to us, because they look not on the mor
Alas! what did that morrow leave when it had become merged in the past !
I havé lately traversed the village in which I was born, without discovering a face that I knew. Houses have been demolished, fronts altered, tenements built, trees rooted up; and alterations effected, that made me feel a stranger amid the home of my fathers. The old-fashioned and roomy house, where my infant years had been watched by parental affection, had been long uninhabited : it was in decay: the storm beat through its fractured windows, and it was partly roofless. The garden, and its old elms, the scene associated with the cherished feelings of many a happy hour, lay a weedy waste :
Amid thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And the long grass o’ertops the mouldering wall ! But the picture it presented in my youth exhibits it as true and vivid as ever. It is hung up in memory in all its freshness, and time cannot dilapidate its image. It is now become an essence, that defies the mutability of material things. It is fixed in ethereal colours on the tablets of the mind, and lives within the domain of spirit, within the circumference of which the universal spoiler possesses no sovereignty.
On visiting a Scene of Childhood.-BLACKWOOD's MAGAZINE.
“I came to the place of my birth, and said, "The friends of my youth, where
are they?? and Echo answered, Where are they?""
LONG years had elapsed since I gazed on the scene,
I thought of the friends, who had roamed with me there,
And I thought of the trees, under which we had strayed,
All eager, I hastened the scene to behold,
'Twas a dream !_not a token or tracé could view
And methought the lone river, that murmured along,
Then, 0, let us look-let our prospects allure-