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When the mind, in the wanderings of its melancholy moments, returns to
returns to scenes amidst which we have been conversant in other days--in days, perhaps, when we were as yet far away from the soil that gave us birth-and dwells on them with those sensations which ever intermingle with the visions of the past, there is a something peculiar in the shade that overhangs and darkens it. We were then * strangers in a strange land:' we spoke in a foreign tongue: communed with those whose manners and customs differed from our own: witnessed the varied effects of various education ; and, in a word, while we beheld, amidst the novelty of inter
course with those whom till then we knew not, the particularities which distinguish nation from nation, and tribe from tribe, were almost persuaded, that there was a reality in the alleged diversity of the races of mankind, though the records of truth declare that they were all created of one flesh and blood. Yet, with this retrospect, which is but too frequently regarded in a manner alike uninstructive to others and to ourselves, there arises oftentimes in a well-disciplined heart an emotion, which blends itself imperceptibly with the feelings, and, while it saddens the distant horizon of recollection, awakens in the bosom many profitable reflections.—We were then, possibly, in the vigour of our age, or, it may be, still borne lightly on the buoyant stream of juvenile anticipation, feeding our fancy with dreams of a happiness, alas! too, too imaginary to endure, even for a little, the chilling blasts of this sorrowful world, and looking forward to days and years of uninterrupted felicity. . Now, all this has passed away! We are again amongst our own people-dwellers in our native country. Time onward has held his flight, and brought with him many, many a mournful change! Memory now is compelled to do her duty. We turn our view to by-gone seasons—their gaiety is no more: we gaze in spirit on what once was—it exists no longer: we ask for friends and kindred whom we left in the enjoyment of life and health-but, almost is their remembrance perished, so long have they been laid in the oblivious receptacles of decay:-Thus is it, that the heart is involuntarily drawn to meditate on the transitory nature of this sublunary scene; thus it is, that we are impelled to consider what must - ere long befal ourselves; and, if not so devoid of reason, as to flatter ourselves, and how many unconsciously do so! with the hope that we shall never die, thus exemplifying what the poet has most truly said,
we shall raise our eyes to heaven in supplication, or cast them down with beseeching tears, and cry~" O, may I be prepared to meet my God!"
I have been naturally, indeed irresistibly, led into this train of reflection, from the subject of my present narrative. There are associations which seem to be more immediately connected with every portion of life and occupation, distinct from all others; and when the mind enters the bewildering labyrinth, it is difficult either to arrest it in its progress, or find the clue by which it may extricate itself from the Dedalian maze. My reader, therefore—the benevolent reader-to whom, following the example of authors of the olden time, when they would deprecate acrimony or ankind remark, I present my little tale, will I hope overlook this digression, and attend me while I endeavour to interest his feelingsand, would the privilege were granted me! amend bis heart.
Summer was just opening in all her loveliness on the mountains, and among the
alleys of Switzerland. The vernal season had proved unusually mild, and its genial and vivifying influence had prematurely disclosed many a blossom, which would not have dared to face a ruder breeze, or a ray less warm. The meadows were clothed with verdure -the fields were fresh with the springing corn--and the busbandman was already ardent in his expectations of a luxuriant harvest. Flowers of every hue, arrayed in their sweetest smiles, bespangled the bosom of the rejoicing earth; and a rich fragrance-that wild reviving odour which tells you that you are encompassed by the inhabitants of a garden cultivated only by the hand of nature-was diffused far around. The lake-it was the lake of Zurich, and I remember well how lightly the sun-beam danced upon its breast-was stretched before us in its blue and majestically-undulating depth. The trout leaped from it occasionally, and the wave went