Page images
PDF
EPUB

and idly boast of trimming the noc How inconsistent, for example, faid turnal lamp of wisdom, without re- I to myself, now that heaven sheds fecting that the truest lamp of wisdom abroad the cheering, genial radiance is that which, untrimmed, and inex- of the summer, and vegetation almost haustible, burns from day to day, and visibly shooting forth to meet the joyfrom year to year, at once to allift ful ardour, offers the most invigorating and to illustrate the researches of the pleasures, both to the corporeal and philofophic ftudent; but the half of intellectual eye ;-how inconfiftent whose splendour is thoughtlessly per- would it be, neglectful of all the almitted to shine on the oblivious couch lurements of nature, to consume the of imperfect and insalubrious flum- day in the confines of the study, and ber.

refer to some other season, too dull Of this imprudent practice, I own perhaps for enjoyment, too comfortI have, myself, but too frequently less for exercise, the hours of vacabeen guilty; and I have, accordingly, tion, which Nature occasionally will though yet, in point of years, in the crave; and in which, in despite of very verdure of my youth, but too the perseverance of studious applicamany conftitutional reasons to lament tion, sooner or later, she will perempthe improvidence of my conduct: torily be indulged. feeling, as I do, but too frequently, These reflections had no sooner octhe valetudinarian langour which, on curred, than my resolution was taken; every visitation of a cloudy atmof- and, quitting my study, I fallied forth phere, or a fouth-easterly wind, dif- upon a pedestrian expedition, in quest fuses itself at once over mind and of health and recreation. body, and blights the springing blooms of active fancy.

The Peripatetic. The return of the vernal season, fo important, and so delightful to one in In one respect, at least, said I to such a slate of health, having na- myself, after quitting the public road, turally occasioned this train of re- in order to pursue a path, faintly flections to recur to my mind, I was tracked through the luxuriant herbage led, in a great measure, perhaps by of the fields, and which left me at tithe extreme fineness of the weather, berty to indulge the solitary reveries to extend them ftill farther, and not of a mind, to which the volume of only to consider that the night is but nature is for ever open at fome page too frequently devoted to those duties of instruction and delight, in one rewhich belong to the day, but that spect, at least, I may boaft of a realso by not properly attending to the semblance to the fimplicity of the invitations of nature, days and seasons ancient fages, I purfue my meditaare frequently misapplied; and that tions on foot, and can find occasions much of our time is of consequence, for philofophic reflection wherever virtually lot, by not being employed yon fretted vault (the philosopher's in those pursuits to which it is best beft canopy) extends its glorious coadapted.

vering regularly to recur at the approach of night, arising, undoubtedly, from the altered ftate of the atmosphere, and the exhaustion of strength which naturally takes place in the course of the day, and which sleep is requiớte to repair. This then is the un. questionable lignal for repose ; and how efíential it is that this signal should be obeyed, may be inferred from the different effect, which on early rising, after a proper degree of reft, the morning air, (in no important respect diffimilar before fun-rise, from that of the night) produces upon the animal frame. To this may be added, the coniidera: tion that morning sleep lo far from producing the same invigorating effects with that of the night, always occasions a relaxation of fibre, and general debility of the fyttem.

Immortal fages ! ye noblest bene- if unblest with companions of confactors of mankind, unworthy as I genial foul, who might improve, with am to lift my soul to hopes of your instructive converse, the moments of beatitude, or revive the awful fimpli- relaxation and pleasure, still the fields city of your precepts in a degenerate and groves afford their entertaining and superstitious age, let me for awhile and intelligent society. These trees, indulge my fancy with an ideal con- these shrubs, this smiling turf, enaversation with your wisdom. These melled with these simple blossoms, all fields—these hedge-rows shall form invite to intellectual exercise, and my Academus ; through this valley, render even the idle walk not vain. I will suppose ye have walked, pour

For to Reflection's sober train ing forth divine instruction, and resting upon these hillocks, have collected

Each plant a lesson gives.

A moralizer on the plain the filent energy of your souls, and

Each turf and blossom lives.' foared in awful contemplation to heaven. Here the sublime vision of Plato As roving, excursively, from these might have been revealed; there the to a variety of other reflections, I. fubtile eloquence of Aristotle might pursued my tranquil and cheerful way, have penetrated the labyrinths of the along the fields, and smiled to behold, laws of nature ; and there the divine åt irregular distances, to the right, Socrates, with persuasive plainness, and to the left, the clouds of duit might have explained the awful which marked the winding courses of mysteries of futurity, and of God.

the roads, and in which the morePursuing this reverie, I could not favoured sons of fortune, were suffobut compare the ancient modes of cating themselves for the benefit of education with those of modern times, the air, I felt a glow of health and and lament that the noblest parts of vivacity, which the bustle and loaded philosophy fhould have fallen into atmosphere of the metropolis never such slight estimation, and that there, yet afforded; and I could not but Thould no longer be a porch, or grove, reflect, that from the peripatetic habits or attic-columned school, where emu- of the ancient philosophers, and the lous youth, thronging round the long- attachment to rural life displayed by experienced fage, might imbibe the them all, in opposition to the practice lore of wisdom and of virtue, and of modern students, who are in some improve each noble talent of his soul; degree compelled, by the institutions but that the instruction of our early of fociety, to bury themselves in large and invaluable years should be care- cities, we might readily account for lessly resigned to pedants, fycophants, the apparent paradox, why the health and blockheads, who, if once mankind of the latter should be so proverbially fhould be emancipated from all dif- debilitated, while the former have tinctions, but those which intellects been so preeminent for their longe create, would fink into the humble vity. ranks of labourefs and mechanics.

The Lark. Nor could I but reflect, with painful anxiety, on my own untoward fate, From these reflections I was awakdoomed, with the strong thirst of phi- ened by the chorus of feathered fonglofophy, to struggle unaslisted along fters, who, as I advanced farther and the thorny paths of science, impeded farther from the buty haunts of men, in my course by the heavy chains of poured their cheerful harmony more nature and affection.

freely on my ear. Among the reit I Let not, however, the young ad- was particularly charmed with the notes venturer despond. If mute are the of a sky-lark, who, rising just before lages of antiquity, the instructive voice me, began to pour forth a ftrain of of nature is ever eloquent and loud : so much raptuře, that I could not but

feel

V y

the year.

feel my heart up-lifted to join with fork, that bears its aged parent on him in that devotion, which I fancied its back, and the pelican, whofe mahim to be warbling to the restorer of ternal care has produced the fable of

its foftering the younglings of its nest • How rich, melodious, and sub- from its own bleeding bofom, we lime,' exclaimed I, is the grateful learn the practical religion of the song of instinctive devotion poured heart, the glorious maxims of relative from thy little throat.'

and social duty. Sweet Attic warbler! Poet of the skies!

Though, loudest of the feather'd choir To thee not vainly comes the genial spring, Alanda *

pour

the vocal strain, To give a sordid joy Thy little breast, To heav'n with raptur’d wing aspire, Fond as it flutters with returning glow,

And, floating thro' the ethereal plain, Quivers the strain of rapture, which im- Call up the radiant east, to raise parts

The choral song of pious praise ; Congenial transport to attentive man,

Yet shall the Stork whose grateful wing vind pays the bounteous season with its

Aloft the feeble parent bears song, For the kind boon its cheering sinile im- (What tho' no labour'd ftrain the fing!)

And kindly shares, and fooths, his parts.

cares ; • Wake, fons of earth! who boast fu- Or the whole fond maternal breast,

perior souls, And hail the healthful gales with equal Pours nutritive the vital stream,

To all the younglings of her nest, gratitude,

(Tho' ne'er she faild, with stately pride, And give to others thus the bliss

ye
feel.

Down warbling Pindus' sacred tide,
The feafon teems inftru&tion.

To join the Muses' hallow'd lays,

And heav'nward waft the song of praise) The flow'rs that morning's dew exhale

More balk in heav'n's approving bearn. Are bounteous of their Tweets, And perfume ev'ry balmy gale That fans their gay retreats.

Then, as in the social fphere

Man a wider range enjoys, • The larks, who Nature's bounty share, Let his hallow'd zeal appear Their bliss to all impart;

In the blessings it supplies. Melodious-foaring thro' the air, Vain the woodlark's hermit ftrain, They cheer the drooping heart.

Musing thro' the lone retreat ; * Shall man, alone, with reason bless'd,

Vain the sweet aspiring vein A fordid mind retain

minstrel warbling sweet ; See others with misfortune press'd, Vain alike the hymn, the pray'r, And not relieve their pain ?"

Pride's full oft, or Sloth's pretence,

Would you heav'n's best favour share, The Stork.

fuit.Benevolence ! * And yet,' continued I, gay and whence, as from the genial beam, inspiring as these objects are, they af: Darting o'er the humid ground, ford not the noblest lessons infinĉtive . Fruitful blessings ever teem, nature has prepared. « The pomp of

Realms, and smiling worlds around ! groves, and garniture of fields, may furnish a lively picture of the external

The Beggar. ornaments of religion, and the full chorus of the spring may aslift devo As I was thus fauntering along, tion to foar, on grateful pinions of and indulging, according to my usual rapture, to the throne of him from practice, the extemporaneous effufions whom all blessings flow; but the awe- of a moral muse, I faw, at a contider. ful study of natural history is replete able distance, two idle, sculking felwith ftiíl purer lesions; and from the lows, lying along among the grass The scientific name for the Lark.

Of yon

Be your

without any apparent occupation, or that “divinity that stirs within us," subject of amusement.

and from which scarcely the longest If it were growing toward dark habits of vice can entirely free us, we now,' said I to myself, looking a- dread to perpetrate that crime in the round, and observing that no other broad eye of day, which we even glory person was in fight, one might be in, while we imagine ourselves conceala rather fearful of two such ill-looking ed beneath the covert of the night. fellows; and the scar still conspicuous on my head, the remembrancer of

The Haymaker. former ill-usage, might justify the palpitation with which I should pass The association of ideas naturally them. But jight, friendly light! al- led me from the above circumstance, though thou hast no tongue to reveal, to the remembrance of another of no no arm to arrest, yet art thou of thy- very different complexion, in some of self a guardian, and shamefaced guilt the reflections it suggested, how difdares not stalk forward in hideous fimilar foever, according to all the action in thy presence.

evidences of a transient and accidental I had once a striking proof of this. intercourse, might be the character of An impudent fellow, whose mimic the individual who was the co-actor lameness, and failor-like appearance, in the scene. has frequently been of no small use I was taking one day, in the fun. to him, in the vicinity of the metro- lining interval between the then frepolis, with those who have more re- quent showers, my wonted ramble, gard than myself for the trade of war, solitarily by the banks of the New had once accofted me in such terms of River, across fome pleasant fields, serude iinportunity as were not at all veral miles on the other side of Loncalculated to open my purse-strings, don, no very considerable time after and I had accordingly repulsed him the accident before alluded to, when with repeated denial ; when brandish- I was accosted by a labouring man, ing his crutch, and looking round the in tolerably decent attire, but who field we alone were crossing, he swore, with a pathetic voice pleaded for with a dreadful oath, that if he charity. had me there in the dark, he would My mind happened to be wrapt, make me give, not only halfpence, at the time, in abstruse contemplation, but all that I had.

and, as I have rather an habitual It may well be supposed I shudder- prejudice-not againit distress - Aled with no small degree of horror at mighty Disposer of the ever-veering such atrocity, when turning round I fortunes of mankind, forbid it! ---but read but too plainly in his countenance against professional beggary-it is the and whole deportment, the fincerity vicious profession of indolence and of his threat.

hypocrisy-I palied filently on, pur• And why not now!' thought I as suing my road, and the chain of my foon as I had recovered my calmness, meditations, and he in a contrary di• With respect to the world it is al- rection proceeded without any audiways dark when no one is present to ble murmur, in quest of some more behold what is done ; and as for the generous traveller, whose bosom un, Creator, what cloud so thick, what iteeled by prejudice, could feel the deadly shades fo dark as to shut out gentle puncture of compassion. aught from him. But sach is the in

Somehow or other, however, my contitency of “fophisticated man!” eye glanced as he passed upon the Fortunate inconfilency! that either formidable weapon he was trailing from a confused association of the ideas dejectedly along the ground. It was of light and publicity, or perhaps the implement of rustic labour, suited from the remains of that conscience to the season, though the long con

tinuance

Y y z

tinuance of unfavourable weather had His garb was decent, and his coarse prevented the opportunities of its use. shirt, buttoned about his neck, with

Our feelings for our fellow-crea- out any handkerchief, though brown, tures depend much upon the oppor- was evidently clean; and though the tunities we have of making compari- marks of want were conspicuous in his sons between them; and I could not countenance, his whole appearance but, on the present occasion, compare had nothing of that emaciation which the humble (I blush to say the un- characterizes habitual wretchedness. answered) petition of this unhappy Such were the impressions he made rustic, with the atrocious violence, by upon my mind, as, with an attitude which, under circumstances of scarcely which seemed to say, 'Can you behold superior privacy, my life had been so with indifference the aged victim of recently endangered.

unforeseen misfortune ?" he approachHow easily (the thought passed in- ed toward me. stantaneously across my mind) might He had come, with others, from a this poor being, whose modesty speaks distant county, in order, while emhis genuine distress, (for seldom is ployment was yet scarce at home, real misery importunate) pervert his (the harvests of every kind, as is well instrument of industry into that of known, being always earliest in the 'hostility, and relieve the oppressions neighbourhood of the metropolis) to of distress, which the hard conditions earn a little something for his family, of society, too much, too unneces- by helping to get in the hay in this farily prone to unequal distribution, part of the country; and he had spent have laid upon him. How quickly, all his little stock, unavoidably, upon indeed, might the sharp prongs of that the road; but rainy weather having implement level the proud distinction, most unseasonably set in, and as (by between this moving and this insen- a strange neglect in the provisions for fate earth! O let not every one who the labouring poor) they are paid by lolls on the couch of luxurious afflu- the day, and not by the season, we ence, or beholds the comfortable board all of us very well know, that though of competency spread before him, be sunshine and rain are equally necessary certain that he might not be tempted for the general support of mankind, (were the keen tooth of hunger now the labourer is only enabled to eat gnawing at his vitals) to seize this when the sky is clear. opportunity to abuse the peaceful steel. Such were the reflections produced

I turned instantly round, and my by his fimple tale; a tale whose verahand sympathizing with the feelings of city I had no reason to doubt, as it my heart, waited not for the cold was rather told as an apology for his approbation of reason, but went im- having solicited, than as a plea to exmediately, and instinctively, to my cite my compassion; I having, bepocket.

fore he opened his lips, given him, I know not whether it was, that what some prudent people perhaps the neglected suppliant perceived me would think more than my circumto be rather inattentive than unfeel- stances would justify, though I have ing, and had therefore hopes of my since often been inclined to conrepentance, or whether the involun- ceive, less than a better judge will tary reproach of filent anguish dictated think I ought to have bestowed, conhis emotion, but certain it is that, sidering how much misfortune had just at the same moment, as if by the cast him beneath even my own humiame instinct, he turned round again ble lot. toward me, and displayed to me as : It is always a maxim with me, that meek, as honest, and as supplicating we should either give rather liberally, a countenance as ever was inaded by or not at all. If the petitioner is a A few grey hairs.

common profesional beggar, even

« PreviousContinue »