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deadly,-how the drunkard, the gambler, the ostentatious man, the courtly man, wear out life,
their -devote their years to slavish cringing, and the endurance of insolences,—all to procure a sensation to their existence, which the romantic ‘man (perhaps laughed at for his romance) finds with no greater trouble than opening his eyes,-meets in the next mountain, or mountain-river foaming, -or catches from the sod-roofed and wall-flowered hovel of his daily ride. I say, if we compare the innocence, the quietude, the sweetness of this emotion with so many others so dearly bought, can we despise this taste? Shall we despise it as a dreamy folly, or just smile tolerant of it as a harmless humour in even a full-grown man? There certainly exists a latent contempt for its serious indulgence, however the capacity of being pleased with Nature's beauties may be even matter of pride, and therefore pretension.
For my part, I consider this taste as a branch of education, only second in importance to that for virtue and honour; Í desire to foster it in my children, while I am here, for sympathy in my pleasures; and that, when I am no more here, they may partly owe to me a pure, a gratuitous, an exquisite joy. If I cannot bequeath them estates, I leave them at least a sort of right of pasturage for the mind, which may almost vie with that all-envied mode of possession by parchment, wax, and seal; nor may it be wholly extravagant to exalt it above title-deeds. An acreless man with this capacity for fine enjoyment, sits him down under an oak in the finest old sunshiny park, by a blue stream conducted through it at vast expense ;-be enjoys the shade of the antique patriarchal trees, the sweetness of the nibbled turf, the lulling charm of the caw of rooks round the distant mansion, all which its owner and his fathers have done to produce a delicious resting-place for life—he there reaps the fruit of, under that tree, without any troublous calculation how much of that estate is for ever gone in improving its beauty. Wealth can add nothing to his felicity, and poverty, short of actual suffering, can take nothing from it. The green tree he sits under is as available, quasi a green tree, to him, or the wayfaring man, as it can be to its owner. As so many feet of timber, the latter may indeed extract money from its fall, but it must fall or pass away from him to another before he can reap that only superior advantage. One bought with much anxiety, probably, and preserved with greater--danger of enemies, of elements, of 'flaws in titledeeds, above all of his own ruinous recklessness; to which
the inheritor of great estates is naturally liable from having never known the penalty of waste, nor the dread of poverty. He, on the other hand, who may be said to carry his titledeeds in his soul, holds all he luxuriates in by a tenure perfectly secure,-alienable by death alone, or some peculiar visitation of God, to which the owner by parchment is equally subject, in addition to all those other imminent perils.
His skipping deer, his fine water, his antique woods and rookery, his thousand sheep dotting all the mountain banks, all the wayfaring man sees, all he hears, as agents in his summer pleasure, do not his bidding, but his utmost pleasure unbidden. If this appear a fanciful flight, I can say for myself that I have realized it all in propriâ personâ, while sitting, not in a park, but in scenes more congenial to my taste, on the mountain's side or top, in view of all the riches of the valley below; and since in myself, I cannot doubt that in others, it is quite possible to realise this vast property -in air, earth, water, woods, and skies.
Yes, in carefully fostering, if not sewing, the seed of so enviable a mental fruit in the young bosom, I think we are rearing a future, delicious, secure, and securing shelter and shade for the mind, when world-weary and faint, when persecuted by ills, when almost without other resting-place. Experimentally, again I can assert that, in the solitude of mind and soul, disgust of the world, and total estrangement from its hopes and almost its human family, this pleasure will survive and almost atone for all.
Mountaineers, certainly more commonly than others, imbibe, or are born with this fine sixth sense, almost worth all the rest. If not lost in the rude hardness of their lives, their habits are calculated to exalt it into the poetry of feeling. The high aerial solitude of the heights where they tend their sheep or cattle, to which the world below hardly sends lulling murmur, is congenial to it, and imparts a sort of spirituality, the calm of unearthly exaltation, that refines, almost as effectually as education, the manners of the true "mountayne men."
I often have occasion to take a mountain ride by night in
company of some plain sensible man, “ lover of the picturesque.” Shut up in a hill-top fog by day, or in darkness by night, I pass very luxuriously the hours which to him are so wearisome, that even a sociable ass that would trot after his horse would be thought some company by him; for he even seeks mine, taciturn and apart as I hold myself
--not in sullenness, but simply because I have got much pleasanter company. They are equally his guests also, but to him they are invisible as spirits. If you ask what is the company, I say, keeps me comfortable, in such gloomy dreary day; I answer, it is the very lonely low farm hovel, of dun olive colour, just distinguishable through the haze, from the vast breadth of russet blank mountain-side on which it stands smoking. There is a melancholy, a wildness in its extreme solitude which makes its dead prospect live in the eye of fancy as a pleasure. Now that cottage, as an object for the mind's eye, is utterly invisible to him : or it is the dingy greenness and ghastly clefts opening to a precipice, the depth of the whole mountain, of the grotesque shaped rocks that look so ruinous, crowning the steep breast of the hill along which we ride under their toppling frowns, as beneath the battlements of a tower after a siege: or it is the voluminous grandeur of that mist which makes it dreary, curling round the heights; or it is that very darkness which 80 glooms; for as we keep our mountain-terrace road, high above all the lower landscape, to us in the free sky with clearer vision, that darkness which envelopes all below becomes defined, visible; we look down upon a gulf of dense darkness shaped into strange forms by the profound dingles, in whose bottom generally some viewless river goes roaring, and, fighting oak and rock, sends up to our ears a sort of subterranean thunder. But, above all, the finest entertainment is the one solitary, melancholy, earthly star we see twinkle in the midst of a vast breadth of barrier-hill that shews like a mighty black wall, high as the sky—a cottage taper only -and at a great interval of the same black blank, another, as lonely, fixed, melancholy. That is solitude of life painted to the eye-for what a vast space between those two human dwellings on that declivity of moorland! By day we might overlook many human homes lurking under rocks the colour of the olive waste around, and seeming to have heaved their earthen sides out of the sparry sod and still to form part thereof, like a mole-hill; but by those night-lights the number is defined—there are but two on the mountain. It is extremely probable that, on gaining some height, I shall be suddenly uncovered to the majesty of the mountains by their blustering officer, the wind, involuntarily as a Quaker in a court of law;—but away goes my hat, and my wild conductor is dismounted and dispatched in pursuit of the runaway. Here is a picturesque event to beguile the tedium of my way. Anon, a poetic fit follows the poetic situa
tion, which, keeping one of those solemn little planets of the dark world, or moor, full in my eye, I give vent to, in some such unuttered awdl as the following:
Lo, on the mountain-bank afar,
• Vide Life of Calvin, and the fate of the learned Spaniard, Michael Servetus, his friend, who was roasted by a slow fire at Geneva..
For there's another-mightier fame,
So far and wide may the picturesque-hunting mind be led a dance by a cottage will-o'-wisp! In the midst of this my quarrel with bloodstained kings, and love of mountain tapers; my reflections upon the madness of the wise, and the persecuting cruelty of all bigots, as exemplified in even one otherwise praiseworthy and whose very bigotry consisted in over zeal against the cruelty of persecution, alias, popery, suddenly dragged to this world with a cry of, “Stop, Mr.
-bach! my fold' be under this here rock's bottom," from my guide, and breaks in on my dreams, startling my muse that fits away heavily like an owl, leaving me to the lowly picturesque of a wild farm-house by midnight, buried among mountains. My chamber, whither after libations of tea I retire, is somewhat porous under foot, allowing my curious eye full survey of the rustic doings below, of a family disturbed, but using the night which is stolen from sleep for every purpose of day, boiling milk for cheeses, &c. A thatch, two feet thick, is seen bristling out beyond my lattice kind of windowthe dim vastness of some cone of a mountain, standing defined amidst a chaos of others intervolved, just appears through. A ceaseless roar of waters—the hooting of owls, and occasional sleepy squeak of a kite up in the cliff, serenade me very agreeably. I should quite forget the topic I am treating, should I stretch this digression to the waking at early morning in such a situation ; to paint the pleasure of seeing from one's bed the gold streaks of sunrise reaching up to the top of the hill's great olive-lined breast, and shewing one of my hosts shepherds already abroad in the tender light of dawn trembling into a lovely day, though yet veiled in silver mist. The night scene is alone to my purpose, which, however trifling, is a real tran