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could no further go,” to parody a noble line own; - yet a Westminster schoolboy of tha writing to his sister in the country on the oc
Examine ti might have used the very same. tence. Here is “ the city,” and there are navies,” out of sight, but giving note of their imity by low deaf sounds, which would no disturbed the children at play in the stree which reaching our ears,”
the narrator who repeats what he himself heard, saw, fe did, -which reaching “our ears," threw all t population of the metropolis (half a million into anxiety, fear, and consternation. Let ceed :-“All men being alarmed with it, dreadful suspense of the event which we ki then deciding, every one went, following the : his fancy led him.” The latter most picture imaginative circumstance is repeated at th the clause, in a new and striking form of v “all seeking the noise in the depth of silence
Thus, amidst the din and hubbub, th
Tower guns, on a royal birthday, made a thousand times louder reports, yet nobody was ever alarmed or startled for more than a moment: now, however, because, by these faint intonations, they knew what an event was “then deciding,” but knew not what that decision, or its consequences to themselves, might be, — all the cares, the business, the dissipation of life were suspended; and the throne of the monarch might be said to tremble beneath him at every repetition of sounds, scarcely more audible than the beating of the hearts of those who were listening to them. Let us seek the result in a few lines of the sequel.
“ Taking then a barge, which the servant of Lisideius had provided for them, they made haste to shoot the bridge, and left behind them that great fall of waters, which hindered them from hearing what they desired : after which, having disengaged themselves from many vessels which rode at anchor in the Thames, and almost blocked up the passage to Greenwich, they ordered the watermen to let fall their oars more gently; and then, every one favouring his own curiosity with a strict silence, it was not long ere they perceived the air breaking about them, like the noise of distant thunder, or of swallows in a chimney,
those little undulations of sound, though almost vanishing before they reached them, yet still seeming to retain somewhat of their first horror, which they had betwixt the fleets. After they had listened till such time as the sound, by little and little, went from them, Eugenius, lifting up his head, and taking notice of it, was the first who congratulated
to the rest that happy omen of our nation's victory; adding, we had but this to desire in confirmation of it, that we might hear no more of that noise which was now leaving the English coast.”
The power of painting, here displayed, has almost made sound itself picturesque; and in poetical painting it may be so; it is so in those phrases, they left behind them that great fall of waters” (under the old London Bridge), “which hindered them from hearing what they desired ;" “ they perceived the air breaking around them” in “little undulations of sound, almost vanishing before they reached them;"
above all, that most magnificent and impressive close, concerning “that noise which was now leaving the English coast.” Who does not hear the diminishing sounds ? Who does not see the defeated enemy sheering off with his ships, and “the meteor-flag of England,” which had “ braved the battle,” now “flying on the breeze” in full pursuit ? Every word in the paragraph, like a gun-fire, tells ; every touch of the pencil adds to the graphic representation of the scene, both in and out of sight; or rather, every new idea heightens the reality of it: – the mysterious murmurs, their gradual subsidence, and the happy omen, with true British spirit inferred by Eugenius, that the victory must have fallen to his countrymen, are all in the noblest style and the purest taste, are all poetry in substance, - maiden poetry, and only not —
« Married to immortal verse."
The Poetical of Place and Circumstance. But we must descend from this elevation. Imagine a small sea-port town, rank with all the ordinary nuisances of such localities, - sights, smells, sounds; mean buildings, narrow streets; the uncouth dress, coarse manners, and squalid appearance, of a poor, ill-favoured, hard-faring population, likely to be doubled in no long time by the mob of dirty, mischievous children, swarming from every corner, and frolicking in every kennel, when the dame's school breaks up at noon.
The hills behind are low, unvarying, and barren; the few trees upon them stunted and straggling,
you may count them three miles off, so lonely do they look; the harbour occupied by half a score brigs and sloops, one or two masted; on the dreary beach (a mile broad at low water) you may here and there descry a fishing boat, waiting for the tide, with weather-beaten, worn-out mariners, in tarry jackets, leaning on its flanks, or walking, singly or in pairs, along the edge of the spent waves, that seem scarcely to have strength to return to their flood-mark, or even to wash back into the deep the relics of putrid fish that are strown in their way, or the wreaths of dark sea-weed which they left behind when they last retired.
But a ship appears, emerging from the ring of the utmost horizon. We must hasten to it, and step on board. On its deck stand the collected crew, eagerly, anxiously looking out for land; for he at the mast-head has already hailed it,-- that very line of sand and rock, so little esteemed by us, but the
first faint streak of which, distinguishable from sky and water, makes their eyes twinkle, and their bosoms beat strongly, while for a moment they hold their breath; but then, then the most joyous cry which has been uttered since that vessel left that port, bursts spontaneously from every voice, and expresses the most cordial emotion that has been experienced on board during the long interval. “ This is my dear, my native land !”—“ Yonder 's my home, my own sweet home!” Meanwhile, as the vessel nears the harbour, the coast itself almost seems to advance upon the waves to receive it — enlarging, brightening, swelling into loveliness and grandeur, while still in aërial perspective, with the hues of heaven and the sea upon it, and hardly appearing of the earth earthy.
Now, in the middle distance between the first glimpse and the landing place, that self-same scene, which we have shown to be so humble and unpretending in detail, shines out in fair proportions, without one flaw in colour, form, or grouping, that could displease the most fastidious painter ; without one mean, revolting, or even ordinary object to break the spell which holds the eye of the indifferent beholder himself in charmed
What seems it then to the home-returning mariner ? His mind dwells solely on what is most dear and precious to his sweetest affections. And these are awakened by every symbol that meets his view; every slight undulation of the outline on shore; every scattered tree, familiar and endeared by old recollections, the ruined castle on the low hill, the church-tower at