Page images

While many a sparkling star, in quiet glee,

Far down within the watery sky reposes. As if the ocean's breast were stirred With inward life, a sound is heard, Like that of dreamer murmuring in his sleep,

'Tis partly the billow, and partly the air, That lies like a garment floating fair

Above the happy deep. The sea, I ween, cannot be fanned By evening freshness from the land,

For the land it is far away;
But God hath willed that the sky-born breeze,
In the centre of the loneliest seas,

Should ever sport and play.
The mighty moon she sits above,
Encircled with a zone of love,
A zone of dim and tender light,
That makes her wakeful eye more bright!
She seems to shine with a sunny ray,
And the night looks like a mellowed day!
The gracious Mistress of the Main
Hath now an undisturbed reign,
And, from her silent throne, looks down,
As upon children of her own,
On the waves that lend their gentle breast
In gladness for her couch of rest!-
And lo! upon the murmuring waves

A glorious Shape appearing,
A broad-winged Vessel, through the shower

Of glimmering lustre steering!
As if the beauteous ship enjoyed

The beauty of the sea,
She lifteth up her stately head,

And saileth joyfully.
A lovely path before her lies,

A lovely path behind :
She sails amid the loveliness

Like a thing with heart and mind.
Fit pilgrim through a scene so fair,

Slowly she beareth on;
A glorious phantom of the deep,

Risen up to meet the moon.
The moon bids her tenderest radiance fall

On her wavy streamer and snow-white wings;

And countless stars that twinkle through
Heaven's broad and boundless arch of blue;
Of snow-white spires and turrets fair,
Soft gleaming in the moonlit air,
Whose dusky depths of shadows lie
Heightening the brilliant scenery.

Then beneath the pine-trees tall,
Near yonder foaming waterfall,
I listen to the stock-dove's wail,
Far floating through the quiet vale;
Soft-sighing breezes waft to me
The fragrance of the birchen tree; -
And the “ brawling burnie" wimples by,
With a gush of soothing melody.

E'en all sweet sense of these will fade
At times, — as though impervious shade,
Like that which hides me from the day,
O’er each external image lay: -
Then many a form thou canst not see,
Unfolds its sun-bright wings to me,
And, deep within my silent soul,
High thoughts and holiest visions roll.

[blocks in formation]

There is unwritten music. The world is full of it. I hear it every hour that I wake; and my waking sense is sure passed sometimes by my sleeping, - though that is a mystery. There is no sound of simple nature that is not music. It is all God's work, and so harmony. You may mingle, and divide, and strengthen the passages of its great anthem; and it is still melody, — melody.

The low winds of summer blow over the waterfalls and the brooks, and bring their voices to your ear, as if their sweetness were linked by an accurate finger; yet the wind is but a fitful player; and you may go out when the tempest is up, and hear the strong trees moaning as they lean before it, and

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

the long grass hissing as it sweeps through, and its own solemn monotony over all; — and the dimple of that same brook, and the waterfall's unaltered bass shall still reach you, in the intervals of its power, as much in harmony as before, and as much a part of its perfect and perpetual hymn.

There is no accident of nature's causing which can bring in discord. The loosened rock may fall into the abyss, and the overblown tree rush down through the branches of the wood, and the thunder peal awfully in the sky; — and sudden and violent as these changes seem, their tumult goes up with the sound of wind and waters, and the exquisite ear of the musician can detect no jar.

I have read somewhere of a custom in the Highlands, which, in connection with the principle it involves, is exceedingly beautiful. It is believed that, to the ear of the dying, (which, just before death, becomes always exquisitely acute,) the perfect harmony of the voices of nature, is so ravishing, as to make him forget his suffering, and die gently, like one in a pleasant trance. And so, when the last moment approaches, they take him from the close shieling, and bear him out into the open sky, that he may hear the familiar rushing of the streams. I can believe that it is not superstition. I do not think we know how exquisitely nature's many voices are attuned to harmony, and to each other.

The old philosopher we read of, might not have been dreaming when he discovered that the order of the sky was like a scroll of written music, and that two stars, (which are said to have appeared centuries after his death, in the very places he mentioned,) were wanting to complete the harmony. We know how wonderful are the phenomena of colour; how strangely like consummate art the strongest dyes are blended in the plumage of birds, and in the cups of flowers; so that, to the practised eye of the painter, the harmony is inimitably perfect. It is natural to suppose every part of the universe equally perfect; and it is a glorious and elevating thought, that the stars of heaven are moving on continually to music; and that the sounds we daily listen to are but part of a melody that reaches to the very centre of God's illimitable spheres

it suggests gleams and visions, and not earthly satisfactions; when it seems

“ too bright and good,

For human nature's daily food;" when it niakes the beholder feel his unworthiness; when he cannot feel his right to it, though he were Cæsar; — he cannot feel more right to it, than to the firmament, and the splendours of a sunset.

Hence arose the saying, “If I love you, what is that to you ?" We say so, because we feel that what we love, is not in your will, but above it. It is the radiance of you, and not you. It is that which you know not in yourself, and can never know.

This agrees well with that high philosophy of Beauty, which the ancient writers delighted in; for they said, that the soul of man, imbodied here on earth, went roaming up and down in quest of that other world of its own, out of which it came into this, but was soon stupified by the light of the natural sun, and unable to see any other objects than those of this world, which are but shadows of real things. Therefore, the Deity sends the glory of youth before the soul, that it may avail itself of beautiful bodies, as aids to its recollection of the celestial good and fair; and the man beholding such a person in the female sex, runs to her, and finds the highest joy in contemplating the form, movement, and intelligence of this person, because it suggests to him the presence of that which, indeed, is within the beauty, and the cause of the beauty.

If, however, from too much conversing with material objects, the soul was gross, and misplaced its satisfaction in the body, it reaped nothing but sorrow; body being unable to fulfil the promise which beauty holds out; but if, accepting the hint of these visions and suggestions which beauty inakes to his mind, the soul passes through the body, and falls to admire strokes of character, and the lovers contemplate one another in their discourses and their actions, then, they pass to the true palace of Beauty, - more and more inflame their love of it, and by this love extinguishing the base affection, as the sun puts out the fire by shining on the hearth, they become pure and hallowed. By conversation with that which is in itself excellent, magnanimous, lovely and just, the lover comes to a warmer love of these nobilities, and a quicker apprehension of the n. Then, he passes from loving them in

one, to loving them in all; — and so is the one beautiful soul only the door through which he enters to the society of all true and pure souls. In the particular society of his mate, he attains a clearer sight of any spot, any taint, which her beauty has contracted from this world, and is able to point it out, and this with mutual joy that they are now able, without offence, to indicate blemishes and hinderances in each other, and give to each all help and comfort in curing the same. And, beholding in many souls the traits of the divine beauty, and separating in each soul that which is divine from the taint which they have contracted in the world, the lover ascends ever to the highest beauty, to the love and knowledge of the Divinity, by steps on this ladder of created souls.

Somewhat like this have the truly wise told us of love in all ages. The doctrine is not old, nor is it new. If Plato, Plutarch, and Apuleius taught it, so have Petrarch, Angelo, and Milton. It awaits a truer unfolding in opposition and rebuke to that subterranean prudence which presides at marriages with words that take hold of the upper world, whilst one eye is eternally boring down into the cellar, so that its gravest discourse has ever a slight savour of hams and powdering-tubs. Worst, when the snout of this sensualism intrudes into the education of young women, and withers the hope and affection of human nature, by teaching, that marriage signifies nothing but a housewife's thrift, and that woman's life has no other aim.



Laman Blanchard.

Following the gardener through some of the loveliest portions of the ducal demesne, we all entered the conservatory.

The heat was oppressive. As we passed out of the fresh air, although the light breeze that crept about had just before appeared to serve no other purpose than that of blowing the sunshine into our eyes, the atmospheric change was strikingly perceptible. The uneasy sensation, however, was but momentary; for as soon as the rapid glance, startled and delighted, had taken in the full display of flower and leaf,

« PreviousContinue »