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listened for her breath-and then the mother took his place, and leaned her ear to the unbreathing mouth, long deluding herself with its lifelike smile; but a sudden darkness in the room, and a sudden stillness, most dreadful both, convinced their unbelieving hearts at last, that it was death.
All the parish, it may be said, attended her funeralfor none stayed away from the kirk that Sabbath—though many a voice was unable to join in the Psalm. The little grave was soon filled up—and you hardly knew that the turf had been disturbed beneath which she lay. The afternoon service consisted but of a prayer--for he who ministered, had loved her with love unspeakableand, though an old greyhaired man, all the time he prayed he wept. In the sobbing kirk her parents were sitting, but no one looked at them—and when the congregation rose to go, there they remained sitting and an hour afterwards, came out again into the open air, and parting with their pastor at the gate, walked away to their hut, overshadowed with the blessing of a thousand prayers.
And did her parents, soon after she was buried, die of broken hearts, or pine away disconsolately to their graves ? Think not that they, who were Christians indeed, could be guilty of such ingratitude. “ The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away-blessed be the name of the Lord !” were the first words they had spoke by that bedside ; during many, many long years of weal or wo, duly every morning and night, these same blessed words did they utter when on their knees together in prayer—and many a thousand times besides, when they
were apart, she in her silent hut, and he on the hillneither of them unhappy in their solitude, though never again, perhaps, was his countenance so cheerful as of yore—and though often suddenly amidst mirth or sunshine their eyes were seen to overflow. Happy had they been- as we mortal beings ever can be happy-during many pleasant years of wedded life before she had been born. And happy were they-on to the verge of old age -long after she had here ceased to be. Their Bible had indeed been an idle book—the Bible that belonged to “the Holy Child,”—and idle all their kirk-goings with “ the Holy Child,” through the Sabbath-calm-had those intermediate years not left a power of bliss behind them triumphant over death and the grave.
NATURE must be bleak and barren indeed to possess no power over the young spirit daily expanding on her breast into new susceptibilities, that erelong are felt to fill life to overflowing with a perpetual successioninfinite series—of enjoyments. Nowhere is she destitute of that power—not on naked sea-shores—not in central deserts. But our boyhood was environed by the beautiful—its home was among moors and mountains, which people in towns and cities called dreary, but which we knew to be the cheerfullest and most gladsome parish in all braid Scotland—and well it might be, for it was in her very heart. Mountains they seemed to us in those days, though now we believe they are only hills. But such hills !-undulating far and wide away till the highest even on clear days seemed to touch the sky, and in cloudy weather were verily a part of heaven. Many a valley, and many a glen—and many a hollow that was neither valley nor glen—and many a flat, of but a few green acres, which we thought plains—and many a cleft waterless with its birks and brechans, except when the rains came down, and then they all sang a new song in merry chorus—and many a wood, and many a grove, for it takes no great number of trees to make a wood, and four firs by themselves in a lonesome place are a grove —and many a single sycamore, and many a single ash, kenned afar-off above its protected cottage—and many an indescribable spot of scenery, at once pastoral and agricultural and silvan, where, if house there was, you hardly knew it among the rocks ;—so was Our Parish, which people in towns and cities called dreary, composed; but the composition itself—as well might we hope thus to show it to your soul's eye, as by a few extracts however fine, and a few criticisms however exquisite, to give you the idea of a perfect poem.
But we have not given you more than a single hint of a great part of our Parish—the Moor. It was then ever so many miles long, and ever so many miles broad, and nobody thought of guessing how many miles round —but some twenty years ago it was absolutely measured to a rood by a land-louper of a land-surveyor—distributed—drained—enclosed—utterly ruined for ever. No, not for ever. Nature laughs to scorn acts of Parliament, and we predict that in a quarter of a century she will resume her management of that moor. We rejoice to hear that she is beginning already to take lots of it into her own hands. Wheat has no business there, and should keep to the carses. In spring, she takes him by the braird till he looks yellow in the face long before his time—in summer, by the cuff of the neck till he lies down on his back and rots in the rain-in autumn, by the ears,
and rubs him against the grain till he expires as fushionless as the winnlestraes with which he is interlaced in winter, she shakes him in the stook till he is left but a shadow which pigeons despise. See him in stack at Christmas, and you pity the poor straw. Here and there bits of bear or big, and barley, she permits to flourishnor is she loth to see the flowers and shaws and apples on the poor man's plant, the life-sustaining potatowhich none but political economists hate and all Christians love. She is not so sure about turnips, but as they are a green crop she leaves them to the care of the fly. But where have her gowans gone? There they still are in flocks, which no cultivation can scatter or eradicate -inextinguishable by all the lime that was ever brought unslokened from all the kilns that ever glowed-by all the dung that was ever heaped up fresh and fuming from all the Augean stables in the land. Yet her heart burns within her to behold, even in the midst of what she abhors, the large dew-loved heads of clover whitening or reddening, or with their rival colours amicably intermingled, a new birth glorious in the place of reedy marish or fen where the catspaws nodded—and them she will retain unto herself when once more she shall rejoice in her Wilderness Restored.
And would we be so barbarous as to seek to impede the progress of improvement, and to render agriculture a dead letter? We are not so barbarous, nor yet so savage. We love civilized life, of which we have long been one of the smaller but sincerest ornaments. But agriculture, like education, has its bounds. It is, like it, a