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ility to the grave. 'Twould be well for the | all imaginable orders of architecture—till the world were there in it more such men. By shadowy roof, gleaming with golden cupolas, way of proving their manhood, we have heard like the cloud-region of the setting sun, set the grown-up people abuse their own boyhood heavens a-blaze. forgetting what our great Philosophical Poet Gaze up on the highest idea-gaze down on -after Milton and Dryden-has told them, the profoundest emotion and you will know that
and feel in a moment that it is not a new birth. " The boy is father of the man,
You become a devout believer in the Pythago and thus libelling the author of their existence. rean and Platonic doctrine of metempsychosis A poor boy indeed must he have been, who and reminiscence, and are awed by the mystesubmitted to misery when the sun was new in rious consciousness of the thought “ BEFORE !" heaven. Did he hate or despise the flowers Try then to fix its date, and back travels your around his feet, congratulating him on being soul, now groping its way in utter darkness, young like themselves? the stars, young al- and now in darkness visible—now launching ways, though Heaven only knows how many along lines of steady lustre: such as the moon million years old, every night sparkling in throws on the broad bosoms of starry lakeshappiness which they manifestly wished him now dazzled by sudden contrastto share ? Did he indeed in his heart believe
“ Blind with excess of light !" that the moon, in spite of her shining midnight face, was made of green cheese? Not But back let it travel, as best or worst it may, only are the foundations dug and laid in boy- through and amidst eras after eras of the wan hood, of all the knowledge and the feelings of or radiant past; yet never, except for some our prime, but the ground-flat too built, and sweet instant of delusion, breaking dewdropoften the second story of the entire superstruc- like at a touch or a breath, during all that lure, from the windows of which, the soul look- perilous pilgrimage and perilous must it be, ing out, heholds nature in her state, and leaps haunted by so many ghosts -- never may it down, unafraid of a fall on the green or white reach the shrine it seeks—the fountain from bosom of earth, to join with hymns the front which first flowed that feeling whose origin of the procession. The soul afterwards per- seems to have been out of the world of timefects her palace-building up tier after tier of | dare we say-in eternity!
How graciously provided are all the subdi- pulled the primroses on the sunny braes, wonvisions of Time, diversifying the dream of dering in our first blissful emotions of beauty human life! And why should moralists mourn at the leaves with a softness all their own over the mutability that gives the chief charm a yellowness nowhere else so vivid—“the to all that passes so transitorily before our bright consummate flower” so starlike to our eyes !-leaving image upon image in the waters awakened imagination among the lowly grass of memory, that can bear being stirred without --lovely indeed to our admiring eyes as any being disturbed, and contain steadier and one of all the stars that, in their turn, did seem steadier reflections as they seem to repose on themselves like flowers in the blue fields of an unfathomable depth!-the years, the months, heaven! Long, long, long ago, the time when the weeks, the days, the nights, the hours, the we danced hand in hand with our goldenminutes, the moments, each in itself a different haired sister! Long, long, long ago, the day living, and peopled, and haunted world. One on which she died—the hour, so far more disLife is a thousand lives, and each individual, mal than any hour that can now darken us on as he fully renews the past, reappears in a this earth, when her coffin descended slowly, thousand characters; yet all of them bearing slowly into the horrid clay, and we were borne a mysterious identity not to be misunderstood, deathlike, and wishing to die, out of the churchand all of them, while every passion has been yard, that, from that moment, we thought we shifting and ceasing, and reascending into could enter never more! What a multitudipower, still under the dominion of the same nous being must ours have been, when, before Conscience, that feels and knows it is from our boyhood was gone, we could have forgotGod.
ten her buried face! Or at the dream of it, Who will complain of the shortness of hu- dashed off a tear, and away, with a bounding man life, that can re-travel all the windings, heart, in the midst of a cloud of playmates, and wanderings, and mazes that his feet have breaking into fragments on the hill-side, and trodden since the farthest back hour at which hurrying round the shores of those wild moormemory pauses, baffled and blindfolded, as she land lochs, in vain hope to surprise the heron vainly tries to penetrate and illumine the pal- that slowly uplifted his blue bulk, and floated pable, the impervious darkness that shrouds away, regardless of our shouts, to the old cas the fow first years of our inscrutable being ? | tle woods. It is all like a reminiscence of Long, long, long ago seems it to be indeed, some other state of existence. when we now remember it, the Time we first Then, after all the joys and sorrows of those few years, which we now call transitory, but athwart the gloom, quick as spectral figures which our Boyhood felt as if they would be seen hurrying among the mountains during a "ndless—as if they would endure for ever-great storm? Why do some glare and threatarose upon us the glorious dawning of another en--why others fade away with a melancholy new life--Youtu—with its insupportable sun- smile? Why that one-a Figure all in white, shine, and its agitating storms. Transitory, and with white roses in her hair--come fortoo, we now know, and well deserving the ward through the haze, beautifying into dissame name of dream. But while it lasted, tincter form and face, till her pale beseeching long, various, and agonizing; as, unable to hands almost touch our neck-and then, in a sustain the eyes that first revealed to us the moment, it is as nothing ? light of love, we hurried away from the part- But now the room is disenchanted and ing hour, and, looking up to moon and stars, feebly our lamp is glimmering, about to leave invocated in sacred oaths, hugged the very us to the light of the moon and stars. There heavens to our heart. Yet life had not then it is trimmed again-and the sudden increase nearly reached its meridian, journeying up of lustre cheers the heart within us like a the sunbright firmament. How low hung it festal strain. And To-Morrow-To-Morrow there exulting, when “it flamed on the fore- is Merry Christmas; and when its night dehead of the noontide sky!” Let not the Time scends there will be mirth and music, and the be computed by the lights and shadows of the light sounds of the merry-twinkling feet withyears, bnt by the innumerable array of vision in these now so melancholy walls—and sleep ary thoughts, that kept deploying as if from now reigning over all the house save this one one eternity into another--now in dark sullen room, will be banished far over the sea--and masses, now in long array, brightened as if morning will be reluctant to allow her light to with spear-points and standards, and moving break up the innocent orgies. along through chasm, abyss, and forest, and Were every Christmas of which we have over the summits of the highest mountains, to been present at the celebration, painted accordthe sound of ethereal music, now warlike and ing to nature-what a Gallery of Pictures! tempestuous-now, as “from flutes and soft True that a sameness would pervade them recorders” accompanying not pæans of victory all—but only that kind of sameness that perbut hymns of peace. That Life, too, seems, vades the nocturnal heavens. One clear night now that it is gone, to have been of a thousand always is, to common eyes, just like another; years. Is it gone? Its skirts are yet hovering for what hath any night to show but one moon on the horizon. And is there yet another Life and some stars-a blue vault, with here a few destined for us? That Life which men fear braided, and there a few castellated, clouds ? to face--Age, Old Age! Four dreams within yet no two nights ever bore more than a family a dream-and where to awake?
resemblance to each other before the studious At dead of night-and it is now dead of night and instructed eye of him who has long com-how the heart quakes on a sudden at the muned with Nature, and is familiar with every silent resurrection of buried thoughts! Per- smile and frown on her changesul, but not haps the sunshine of some one single Sabbath capricious, countenance. Even so with the of more exceeding holiness comes first glim- Annual Festivals of the heart. Then our mering, and then brightening upon us, with thoughts are the stars that illumine those the very same sanctity that filled all the air skies—and on ourselves it depends whether at the tolling of the kirk-bell, when all the they shall be black as Erebus, or brighter than parish was hushed, and the voice of streams Aurora. heard more distinctly among the banks and
“Thoughts! that like spirits trackless come and go!braes. Then, all at once, a thunder-storm that many years before, or many years after, drove is a fine line of Charles Lloyd's. But no bird us, when walking alone over the mountains, skims, no arrow pierces the air, without prointo a shieling, will seem to succeed; and we ducing some change in the Universe, which behold the same threatening aspect of the will last to the day of doom. No coming and heavens that then quailed our beating hearts, going is absolutely trackless; nor irrecoverand frowned down our eyelids before the light- able by Nature's law is any consciousness, ning began to flash, and the black rain to however ghostlike; though many one, even deluge all the glens. No need now for any the most blissful, never does return, but seems effort of thought. The images rise of them to be buried among the dead. But they are selves-independently of our volition--as if not dead—but only sleep; though to us who another being, studying the working of our recall them not, they are as they had never minds, conjured up the phantasmagoria before been, and we, wretched ingrates, let them lie us who are beholding it with love, wonder, and for ever in oblivion! How passing sweet fear. Darkness and silence have a power of when of their own accord they arise to greet sorcery over the past; the soul has then, too, us in our solitude !-as a friend who, having often restored to it feelings and thoughts that sailed away to a foreign land in our youth, it had lost, and is made to know that nothing has been thought to have died many long years it once experiences ever perishes, but that all ago, may suddenly stand before us, with face chings spiritual possess a principle of immor- still familiar and name reviving in a moment, tal life.
and all that he once was to us brought from Why finger on the shadowy wall some of utter forgetfulness close upon our heart. nose phantasmagoria-returning after they My Father's House! How it is ringing dave disappeared--and reluctant to pass away like a grove in spring, with the din of creamto their former oblivion? Why shoot others Itures happier, a thousand times happier, than all the birds on earth. It is the Christmas spirits, neither few nor many, the joy and the Holidays—Christmas Day itself—Christmas might survive; for you must know that unless Night-and Joy in every bosom intensifies it be accompanied with imagination, memory Love. Never before were we brothers, and is cold and lifeless. The forms it brings besisters so dear to one another--never before fore us must be inspired with beauty--that is, had our hearts so yearned towards the authors with affection or passion. All minds, even the of our being-our blissful being! There they dullest, remember the days of their youth; but sit-silent in all that outcry—composed in all all cannot bring back the indescribable brightthat disarray-still in all that tumult; yet, as ness of that blessed season.
ness of that blessed season. They who would one or other flying imp sweeps round the know what they once were, must not merely chair, a father's hand will playfully strive to recollect, but they must imagine, the hills and catch a prisoner-a mother's gentler touch on valleys --if any such there were-in which some sylph's disordered symar be felt almost their childhood played, the torrents, the wateras a reproof, and for a moment slacken the falls, the lakes, the heather, the rocks, the heafairy-flight. One old game treads on the heels ven's imperial dome, the raven floating only a of another-twenty within the hour—and many little lower than the eagle in the sky. To a new game never heard of before nor since, imagine what he then heard and saw, he must struck out by the collision of kindred spirits imagine his own nature. He must collect from in their glee, the transitory fancies of genius many vanished hours the power of his untamed inventive through very delight. Then, all at heart, and he must, perhaps, transfuse also once, there is a hush, profound as ever falls something of his maturer mind into these on some little plat within a forest when the dreams of his former being, thus linking the moon drops behind the mountain, and small past with the present by a continuous chain, green-robed People of Peace at once cease which, though often invisible, is never broken. their pastime, and evanish. For she-the So is it too with the calmer affections that have Silver-Tongued—is about to sing an old bal- grown within the shelter of a roof. We do lad, words and air alike hundreds of years not merely remember, we imagine our father's old-and sing she doth, while tears begin to house, the fireside, all his features then most fall, with a voice too mournfully beautiful living, now dead and buried; the very manner long to "breathe below--and, ere another of his smile, every tone of his voice. We Christmas shall have come with the falling must combine with all the passionate and plassnows, doomed to be mute on earth—but to tic power of imagination the spirit of a thoube hymning in Heaven.
sand happy hours into one moment; and we of that House-to our eyes the fairest of must invest with all that we ever felt to be earthly dwellings—with its old ivyed turrets, venerable such an image as alone can satisfy and orchard-garden bright alike with fruit and our filial hearts. It is thus that imagination, with flowers, not one stone remains. The which first aided the growth of all our holiest very brook that washed its foundations has and happiest affections, can preserve them to vanished along with them-and a crowd of us unimpaired other buildings, wholly without character, has
“For she can give us back the dead, long stood where here a single tree, and there
Even in the loveliest looks they wore. a grove, did once render so lovely that small Then came a New Series of Christmases, demesne; which, how could we, who thought celebrated, one year in this family, another it the very heart of Paradise, even for one mo- year in that- none present but those whom ment have believed was one day to be blotted Charles Lamb the Delightful calleth the “old out of being, and we ourselves—then so linked familiar faces;" something in all features, and in love that the band which bound us altogether all tones of voice, and all manners, betokening was, in its gentle pressure, felt not nor under- origin from one root-relations all, happy, and stood to be scattered far and abroad, like so with no reason either to be ashamed or proud many leaves that after one wild parting rustle of their neither high nor humble birth-their are separated by roaring wind-eddies, and lot being cast within that pleasant realm, “ the brought together no more! The old Abbey-Golden Mean," where the dwellings are conit still survives; and there, in that corner of necting links between the hut and the hallthe burial-ground, below that part of the wall | fair edifices resembling manse or mansionwhich was least in ruins, and which we often house, according as the atmosphere expands climbed to reach the flowers and nests—there, or contracts their dimensions-in which Comin hopes of a joyful resurrection, lie the Loved petence is next-door neighbour to Wealth, and and Venerated--for whom, even now that so both of them within the daily walk of Conmany grief-deadening years have fled, we feel, tentment. in this holy hour, as if it were impiety so ut- Merry Christmases they were indeed--one terly to have ceased to weep-so seldom to Lady always presiding, with a figure that once have remembered !-And then, with a power- had been the stateliest among the stately, but lessness of sympathy to keep pace with youth's then somewhat bent, without being bowed frantic grief, the floods we all wept together-down, beneath an easy weight of most veneraat no long interval--on those pale and placid ble years. Sweet was her tremulous voice to faces as they lay, most beautiful and most all her grandchildren's ears. Nor did thise dreadful to behold, in their coffins.
solemn eyes, bedimmed into a pathetic beauty, We believe that there is genius in all child in any degree restrain the glee that sparkleid hood. But the creative joy that makes it great in orbs that had as yet shed not many tears, in its simplicity dies a natural death or is but tears of joy or pity. Dearly she loved ali Glled, and genius dies with it. In favoured those mortal creatures whom she was soon about to leave; but she sat in sunshine even Vain images ! and therefore chosen by fancy within the shadow of death; and the “voice not too painfully to touch the heart. For some that called her home" had so long been whis-hearts grew cold and forkidding with selfish pering in her ear, that its accents had become cares-some, warm as ever in their own gen dear to her, and consolatory every word that erous glow, were touched by the chill of Forwas heard in the silence, as from another tune's frowns, ever worst to bear when sudworld.
denly succeeding her smiles-some, to rid Whether we were indeed all so witty as we themselves of painful regrets, took refuge in thought ourselves-uncles, aunts, brothers, sis- forgetfulness, and closed their eyes to the past ters, nephews, nieces, cousins, and “the rest, -duty banished some abroad, and duty impriit might be presumptuous in us, who were soned others at home-estrangements there considered by ourselves and a few others not were, at first unconscious and unintended, yet the least amusing of the whole set, at this erelong, though causeless, complete changes distance of time to decidem-especially in the were wrought insensibly, invisibly, even in the affirmative; but how the roof did ring with innermost nature of those who being friends sally, pun, retort, and repartee! Ay, with pun knew no guile, yet came thereby at last to be -a species of impertinence for which we have friends no more-unrequited love broke some therefore a kindness even to this day. Had bonds-requited love relaxed others—the death incomparable Thomas Hood had the good for- of one altered the conditions of many-and so tune to have been born a cousin of ours, how -year after year--the Christmas Meeting was with that fine fancy of his would he have shone interrupted-deferred-till finally it ceased at those Christmas festivals, eclipsing us all! with one accord, unrenewed and unrenewable. Our family, through all its different branches, For when Some Things cease for a time—that has ever been famous for bad voices, but good time turns out to be for ever. ears; and we think we hear ourselves-all Survivors of those happy circles ! wherever those uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, ye bem-should these imperfect remembrances and cousins singing now! Easy is it to of days of old chance, in some thoughtful pause “warble melody" as to breathe air. But we of life's busy turmoil, for a moment to meet hope harmony is the most difficult of all things your eyes, let there be towards the inditer a to people in general, for to us it was: impos- few throbs of revived affection in your hearts sible; and what attempts ours used to be at —for his, though “absent long and distant far," Seconds! Yet the most woful failures were has never been utterly forgetful of the loves rapturously encored; and ere the night was and friendships that charmed his youth. To done we spoke with most extraordinary voices be parted in body is not to be estranged in indeed, every one hoarser than another, till at spirit-and many a dream and many a vision, last, walking home with a fair cousin, there sacred to nature's best affections, may pass was nothing left for it but a tender glance of before the mind of one whose lips are silent. the eye-a tender pressure of the hand-for “Out of sight out of mind” is rather the exrousins are not altogether sisters, and although pression of a doubt-of a fear-than of a belief partaking of that dearest character, possess, it or a conviction. The soul surely has eyes inay be, some peculiar and appropriate charms that can see the objects it loves, through all of their own; as didst thou, Emily the “Wild- intervening darkness-and of those more escap!”—That sobriquet all forgotten now—for pecially dear it keeps within itself almost unnow thou art a matron, nay a Grandam, and dimmed images, on which, when they know it Troubled with an elf fair and frolicsome as not, think it not, believe it not, it often loves to thou thyself wert of yore, when the gravest gaze, as on relics imperishable as they are and wisest withstood not the witchery of thy hallowed. dancings, thy singings, and thy showering All hail! rising beautiful and magnificent smiles.
through the mists of morning-ye Woods, On rolled Suns and Seasons-the old died - Groves, Towers, and Temples, overshadowing the elderly became old-and the young, one that famous Stream beloved by all the Muses! after another, were wafted joyously away on Through this midnight hush—methinks we the wings of hope, like birds almost as soon hear faint and far off sacred musicas they can fly, ungratefully forsaking their nests and the groves in whose safe shadow they
“Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise !" first essayed their pinions; or like pinnaces that, after having for a few days trimmed their How steeped now in the stillness of moonlight snow-white sails in the land-locked bay, close are all those pale, pillared Churches, Courts to whose shores of silvery sand had grown the and Cloisters, Shrines and Altars, with here trees that furnished timber both for hull and and there a Statue standing in the shade, or mast, slip their tiny cables on some summer Monument sacred to the memory of the pious day, and gathering every breeze that blows, go —the immortal dead. Some great clock is dancing over the waves in sunshine, and melt / striking from one of many domes--from the far off into the main. Or, haply, some were majestic Tower of St. Mary Magdalen-and in like fair young trees, transplanted during no the deepened hush that follows the solemn favourable season, and never to take root in sound, the mingling waters of the Cherwell another soil, but soon leaf and branch to wither and the Isis soften the severe silence of the beneath the tropic sun, and die almost un- holy night. heeded by those who knew not how beautiful Remote from kindred, and from all the they had been beneath the dews and mists of friendships that were the native growth of the their own native climate.
fair fields where our boyhood and our youth had roamed and meditated and dreamed, those Can it be that there we are utterly forgotten! were indeed years of high and lofty mood No star hanging higher than the Andes in heawhich held us in converse with the shades of ven-but sole-sitting at midnight in a small great Poets and ages of old in Rhedicyna's chamber--a melancholy man are we--and hallowed groves, still, serene, and solemn, as there seems a smile of consolation, ( Wordsthat Attic Academe where divine Plato, with worth ! on thy sacred Bust. all Hybla on his lips, discoursed such excel- Alas! how many heavenly days, “seeming „ent music that his life seemed to the imagina- immortal in their depth of rest,” have died and tion spiritualized—a dim reminiscence of some been forgotten! Treacherous and ungrateful is former state of being. How sank then the our memory even of bliss that overflowed our Christmas Service of that beautiful Liturgy being as light our habitation. Our spirit's into our hearts! Not faithless we to the sim- deepest intercommunion with nature has no ple worship that our forefathers had loved; place in her records—blanks are there that but Conscience told us there was no apostasy ought to have been painted with imperishable in the feelings that rose within us when that imagery, and steeped in sentiment fresh as the deep organ began to blow, that choir of youth- morning on life's golden hills. Yet there is ful voices so sweetly to join the diapason,- mercy in this dispensation—for who can bear our eyes fixed all the while on that divine Pic- to behold the light of bliss re-arising from the ture over the Altar, of our Saviour
past on the ghastlier gloom of present misery? “ Bearing his cross up rueful Calvary."
The phantoms that will not come when we
call on them to comfort us, are too often at our The City of Palaces disappears-and in the side when in our anguish we could almost setting sun-light we behold mountains of soft crimson snow! The sun hath set, and even Such hauntings as these are not as if they
pray that they might be reburied in oblivion. more beautiful are the bright-starred nights of
were visionary--they come and go like forme winter, than summer in all its glories beneath and shapes still imbued with life. Shall we the broad moons of June. Through the woods vainly stretch out our arms to embrace and of Windermere, from cottage to cottage, by hold them fast
, or as vainly seek to intrench coppice-pathways winding up to dwellings ourselves by thought of this world against their among the hill-rocks where the birch-trees visitation? The soul in its sickness knows cease to grow
not whether it be the duty of love to resign it“Nodding their heads, before us go,
self to indifference or to despair. Shall it enThe merry minstrelsy.
joy life, they being dead! Shall we, the surThey sing a salutation at every door, familiar-vivors, for yet a little while, walk in other ly naming old and young by their Christian companionship out into the day, and let the names; and the eyes that look upward from sunbeams setile on their heads as they used the vales to the hanging huts among the plats to do, or cover them with dust and ashes, and and cliffs, see the shadows of the dancers ever show to those in heaven that love for them is and anon crossing the light of the star-like win-now best expressed by remorse and penitence! dow, and the merry music is heard like an Sometimes we have fears about our memory echo dwelling in the sky. Across those hum--that it is decaying; for, lately, many ordinary ble thresholds often did we on Christmas-week yet interesting occurrences and events, which nights of yore-wandering through our solitary we regarded at the time with pain or pleasure, silvan haunts, under the branches of trees have been slipping away almost into oblivion, within whose hollow trunk the squirrel slept, and have often alarmed us of a sudden by venture in, unasked perhaps, but not unwel their return, not to any act of recollection, but come, and, in the kindly spirit of the season, of themselves, sometimes wretchedly out of did our best to merrify the Festival by tale or place and season, the mournful obtruding upon song. And now that we behold them not, are the merry, and worse, the merry upon the all those woods, and cliffs, and rivers, and mournful-confusion, by no fault of ours, of tarns, and lakes, as beautiful as when they piteous and of gladsome faces-tears where softened and brightened beneath our living smiles were a duty as well as a delight, and eyes, half-creating, as they gazed, the very smiles where nature demanded, and religion world they worshipped? And are all those hallowed, a sacrifice of tears. hearths as bright as of yore, without the sha- For a good many years we have been tied to dow of our figure ? And the roofs, do they town in winter by fetters as fine as frostwork ring as mirthfully, though our voice be forgot- filigree, which we could not break without deten? We hang over Westmoreland, an un-stroying a whole world of endearment. That observed-but observant star. Mountains, hills, seems an obscure image; but it means what the rocks, knolls, vales, woods, groves, single trees, Germans would call in English-our winter dwellings--all asleep! O Lakes! but ye are, environment. We are imprisoned in a net of indeed, by far too beautiful! O fortunate Isles ! our own weaving an invisible net; yet we too fair for human habitation, fit abode for the can see it when we choose-just as a bird can Blest! It will not hide itself-it will not sink see, when he chooses, the wires of his cage, into the earth-it will rise; and risen, it will that are invisible in his happiness, as he keeps stand steady with its shadow in the over- hopping and fluttering about all day long, or powering moonlight, that (NE TREE! that ONE haply dreaming on his perch with his poll HOUSE!_and well might the sight of ye two under his plumes—as free in confinement as together--were it harder-break our heart. if let loose into the boundless sky. That seems But hard at all it is not-therefore it is but an obscure image too; but we mean, in truth, crushed.
the prison unto which we doom ourselves no