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A DAY AT WINDERMERE.
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1830.)
Old and gouty, we are confined to our chair ; and occasionally, during an hour of rainless sunshine, are wheeled by female hands along the gravel-walks of our Policy, an unrepining and philosophical valetudinarian. Even the crutch is laid up in ordinary, and is encircled with cobwebs. A monstrous spider has there set up his rest; and our still study ever and anon hearkens to the shrill buz of some poor fly expiring between those formidable forceps-just as so many human ephemerals have breathed their last beneath the bite of his indulgent mas. ter. 'Tis pleasant to look at Domitian-so we love to call him-sallying from the centre against a wearied wasp, lying, like a silkworm, circumvoluted in the inex. tricable toils, and then, seizing the sinner by the nape of the neck, like Christopher with a Cockney, to see the emperor haul him away into the charnel-house.
But we have often less savage recreations: such as watching our beehives when about to send forth colonies-feeding our pigeons, a purple people that dazzle the daylight gathering roses as they choke our small chariot-wheels with their golden orbs—eating grapes out of vine-leafdraperied baskets beautifying beneath the gentle fingers of the gentle into fairy network graceful as the gossamer drinking elder.flower frontiniac from invisible glasses, so transparent in its yellowness seems the liquid radiance wat one moment eyeing a page of Paradise Lost, and at another of Paradise Regained, for what else is the face of her who often visiteth our Eden, and whose coming and whose going is ever like a heavenly dream! Then laying back our head upon the cushion of our triumphal car, and with half-shut eyes, subsiding slowly into haunted sleep or slumber, with our fine features up to heaven, a saintlike image, such as Raphael loved to paint, or Flaxman to embue with the soul of stillness in the life-hushed marble. Such, dearest reader, are some of our pastimes and so do we contrive to close our ears to the sound of the scythe of Saturn, ceaselessly sweeping over the earth, and leaving, at every stride of the mower, a swathe more rueful than ever, after a night of shipwreck, did strew with ghastliness a lee sea-shore !
Thus do we make a virtue of necessity—and thus contentnient wreathes with silk and velvet the prisoner's chains. Once were welong, long ago-restless as a sunbeam on the restless waves-rapid as a river that seems enraged with the rocks, but all the while, you blockhead-beg your pardon)-in love
“ Doth make sweet music with th' enamell'd stones"
strong as a steed let loose from Arab's tent in the oasis to slake his thirst at the desert wall-fierce in our harmless joy as a red-deer belling on the hills—tameless as the eagle sporting in the storm-gay as the “dolphin on a tropic sea"-"mad as young bulls"—and wild as a whole wilderness of adolescent lions. But now-alas! and alack-a-day! the sunbeam is but a patch of sober verdure—the river is changed into a canal—the desertborn” is foundered—the red-deer is slow as an old ram -the eagle has forsook his cliff and his clouds, and hops among the gooseberry bushes—the dolphin has degenerated into a land-tortoise without danger now might a very child take the bull by the horns and though something of a lion still, our roar is, like that of the nightingale, “ most musical, most melancholy"-and, as we attempt to shake our mane, your grandmother-fair subscriber-cannot choose but weep!
It speaks folios in favour of our philanthropy, to know that, in our own imprisonment, we love to see all life free as air. Would that by a word of ours we could clothe all human shoulders with wings! Would that by a word of ours we could plume all human spirits with thoughts strong as the eagle's pinions, that they might winnow their way into the empyrean! Tories ! Yes! we are Tories. Our faith is in the divine right of kings, -but easy, my boys, easy-all free men are kings, and they hold their empire from heaven. That is our political -philosophical-moral—religious creed. In its spirit we have lived—and in its spirit we hope to die-not on the scaffold like Sidney-no-no-no-not by any manner of means like Sidney on the scaffold-but like ourselves on a hair-mattress above a feather-bed, our head decently sunk in three pillows and one bolster, and our frame stretched out unagitatedly beneath a white counterpane ! But meanwhile-though almost as unlocomotive as the dead-in body—there is perpetual motion in our souls. Sleep is one thing, and stagnation is another--as is well known to all eyes that have ever seen, by moonlight and midnight, the face of Christopher North, or of Winder
Windermere! Why, at this blessed moment, we behold the beauty of all its intermingling isles! There they are all gazing down on their own reflected loveliness in the magic mirror of the air-like water, just as many a holy time we have seen them all agaze, when, with suspended oar and suspended breath-no sound but a ripple on the Naiad's bow, and a beating at our own heart-motionless in our own motionless bark—we seem. ed to float midway down that beautiful abyss, between the heaven above and the heaven below, on some strange terrestrial scene composed of trees and the shadows of trees by the imagination made indistinguishable to the eye, and as delight deepened into dreams, all lost at last, clouds, groves, water, air, sky, in their various and profound confusion of supernatural peace! But a sea-born breeze is on Bowness Bay; all at once the lake is blue as the sky; and that evanescent world is felt to have been but a vision. Like swans that had been asleep in the airless sunshine, lo! where from every shady nook appear the white-sailed pinnaces! For on merry Windermere-you must know-every breezy hour has its own regatta!
But intending to be useful, we are becoming ornamental; of this article it must not be said, that
“Pure description holds the place of sense”.
therefore, let us be simple, but not silly, as plain as is possible without being prosy, as instructive as is consistent with being entertaining, a cheerful companion and a trusty guide.
We shall suppose that you have left Kendal, and are on your way to Bowness. Forget, as much as may be, all worldly cares and anxieties, and let your hearts be open and free to all genial impulses about to be breathed into them from the beautiful and sublime in nature. There is no need of that foolish state of feeling called enthusiasm.
You have but to be happy; and by and by your happiness will grow into delight. The blue moun. tains already set your imaginations at work; among those clouds and mists, you fancy many a magnificent precipice-and in the valleys that sleep below, you image to yourselves the scenery of rivers and lakes. The landscape immediately around gradually grows more and more picturesque and romantic; and you feel that you are on the very borders of Fairy-Land. The first smile of Windermere salutes your impatient eyes, and sinks silently into your heart. You know not how beautiful it may be-nor yet in what the beauty consists ; but your finest sensibilities to nature are touched-and a tinge of poetry, as from a rainbow, overspreads that cluster of islands that seems to woo you to their still retreats.
“ Wooded Winandermere, the river-lake,”
with all its bays and promontories, lies in the morning light serene as a Sabbath, and cheerful as a holiday; and you feel that the
is loveliness on this earth more exquisite and perfect than ever visited your slumbers even in the glimpses of a dream. The first sight of such a scene will be unforgotten to your dying day-for such passive impressions are deeper than we can explain-our whole spiritual being is suddenly awakened to receive themand associations, swift as light, are gathered into one emotion of beauty which shall be imperishable, and which, often as memory recalls that moment, grows into genius, and vents itself in appropriate expressions, each in itself a picture. Thus may one moment minister to years; and the life-wearied heart of old age, by one delightful remembrance, be restored to primal joy—the glory of the past brought beamingly upon the faded present-and the world that is obscurely passing away from our eyes, reillumined with the visions of its early morn. The shows of nature are indeed evanescent, but their spiritual influences are immortal; and from that grove now glowing in the sunlight, may your heart derive a delight that shall utterly perish but in the grave!
But now you are in the White Lion, and our advice to you--perhaps unnecessary-is immediately to order breakfast—there are many parlours-some with a charming prospect, and some without any prospect at all; but remember that there are other people in the world besides yourselves,-and therefore, into whatever parlour you may be shown by a pretty maid, be contented, and lose no time in addressing yourselves to your repast. That over, be in no hurry to get on the lake. Perhaps all the boats are engaged—and Billy Balmer is at the Waterhead. So stroll into the churchyard, and take a glance over the graves. Close to the oriel-window of the church is one tomb over which one might meditate half an autumnal day! Enter the church, and you will feel the beauty of these fine lines in the Excursioned
- Not raised in nice proportions was the pile,
Go down to the low terrace-walk along the bay. The bay is in itself a lake, at all times cheerful with its scattered fleet, at anchor or under weigh-its villas and cottages, each rejoicing in its garden or orchard-its mea