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oak, and sycamore, and by flower gardens and fruitorchards, rich as those of the Hesperides ?
If you have no objections—our pretty dears—we shall return to Bowness by Lowood. Let us form a straggling line of march—so that we may one and all indulge in our own silent fancies and let not a word be spoken -virgins—under the penalty of two kisses for one syllable—till we crown the height above Briary-Close. Why, there it is already-and we hear our musical friend's voice-accompanied guitar. From the front of his cottage, the head and shoulders of Windermere are seen in their most majestic shape—and from nowhere else is the longwithdrawing Langdale so magnificently closed by mountains. There at sunset hangs “Cloudland, Gorgeousland,” to gaze on which for an hour might almost make a Sewell Stokes a poetaster. Who said that Windermere was too narrow?' The same critic who thinks the full harvest moon too round--and despises the twinkling of the evening star. It is all the way down-from head to foot-from the Brathay to the Leven-of the proper breadth precisely—to a quarter of an inch. Were the reeds in Poolwyke Bay-on which the birds love to balance themselves--at low or high water, to be visibly longer or shorter than what they have always been in the habit of being on such occasions, since first we brushed them with an oar, when landing in our skiff from the Endeavour, the beauty of the whole of Windermere would be impaired-so exquisitely adapted is that pellucid gleam to the lips of its silvan shores! True, there are flaws in the diamond—but only when the squalls came—and as the blackness sweeps by, that diamond of the first water is again sky-bright and skyblue, as an angel's eyes. Lowood Bay-we are now embarked in Mr. Jackson's prettiest pinnace—when the sun is westering which it now is-surpasses all other bays in fresh-water Mediterraneans. Eve loves to see her pensive face reflected in that serenest mirror. To flatter such a divinity is impossible—but sure she never wears a smile so divine as when adjusting her dusky tresses in that truest of all glasses, set in the chastest of all rich frames. Pleased she retires— with a wavering motion--and casting “many a longing, lingering look behind"-fades indistinctly away arnong the Brathay woods;
while Night, her elder sister, or rather her younger-we really know not which-takes her place at the darkening mirror, till it glitters with her crescentmoon-coronet, wreathed perhaps with a white cloud, and just over the silver bow the lustre of one large yellow star.
As none of the party complain of hunger_let us crack among us a single bottle of our worthy host's choice old Madeira-and then haste in the barouche (ha! here it is) to Bowness. It is right now to laugh-and sing-and recite poetry-and talk all manner of nonsense. Didn't ye hear something crack? Can it be a spring—or merely the axletree? Our clerical friend from Chester assures us 'twas but a string of his guitar-so no more shrieking -and after coffee we shall have
rise up, Xarifa, lay your golden cushion down!”
And then we two, my dear sir, must have a contest at chess—at which, if you beat us, we shall leave our bed at midnight, and murder you in your sleep. But where," murmurs Matilda, “ are we going ?" To Oresthead, love, -and Elleray—for you must see a sight these sweet eyes of thine never saw before-a SUNSET.
We have often wondered if there be in the world one woman indisputably and undeniably the most beautiful of all women-or if, indeed, our first mother were “the loveliest of her daughters, Eve." What human female beauty is all men feel—but few men know-and none can tell—farther than that it is perfect spiritual health, breathingly embodied in perfect corporeal flesh and blood, according to certain god-framed adaptations of form and hue, that, by a familiar, yet inscrutable mystery, to our senses and our souls express sanctity and purity of the immortal essence enshrined within, by aid of all associated perceptions and emotions that the heart and the imagina. tion can agglomerate round them as instantly and as unhesitatingly as the faculties of thought and feeling can agglomerate round a lily or a rose, for example, the perceptions and emotions that make them-by divine right of inalienable beauty-the royal families of flowers. This definition or description rather-of human female beauty, may appear to some, as indeed it appears to us-something vague; but all profound truths--out of the exact sciences-are something vague; and it is manifestly the design of a benign and gracious Providence, that they should be so till the end of time-till mortality has put on immortality-and earth is heaven. Vagueness, therefore, is no fault in philosophy—any more than in the dawn of morning, or the gloaning of eve. Enough, if each clause of the sentence that seeks to elucidate a confessed mystery, has a meaning harmonious with all the meanings in all the other clauses and that the effect of the whole taken together is musical-and a tune. Then it is truth. For all falsehood is dissonant-and verity is concent. It is our faith, that the souls of some women are angelic-or nearly somby nature and the Christian religion-and that the faces and persons of some women are angelic-or nearly so—whose souls, nevertheless, are seen to be far otherwise-and, on that discovery, beauty fades or dies. But may not soul and body-spirit and matter-meet in perfect union--at birth; and grow together into a creature, though of spiritual mould, " beautiful exceedingly,” as Eve before the Fall ? Such a creature-such creaturesmay have been-but the question is-did you ever see one? We almost think that we have; but
- She is dedde,
and it may be that her image in the moonlight of memory and imagination, may be more perfectly beautiful than she herself ever was, when
"Upgrew that living flower beneath our eye.”
Yes-'tis thus that we form to ourselves—incommuni. cably within our souls—what we choose to call ideal beauty-that is, a life-in-death image or eidolon of a being whose voice was once heard, and whose footsteps once wandered among the flowers of this earth. But it is a mistake to believe that such beauty as this can visit the soul only after the original in which it once breathed is dead. For as it can only be seen by profoundest passion —and the profoundest are the passions of love, and pity, and grief-why may not each and all of these passionswhen we consider the constitution of this world and this life- be awakened in their utmost height and depth by the sight of living beauty, as well as by the memory of the dead? To do so is surely within “the reachings of our souls,”—and if so, then may the virgin beauty of his daughter, praying with folded hands and heavenward face when leaning in health on her father's knees, transcend even the ideal beauty which shall afterwards visit his slumbers nightly, long years after he has laid her head in the grave. If by ideal beauty, you nean a beauty beyond what ever breathed and moved, and had its being on earth—then we suspect that not even “ that inner eye which is the bliss of solitude" ever beheld it; but if you merely mean by ideal beauty, that which is composed of ideas, and of the feelings attached by nature to ideas, then begging your pardon, my good sir, all beauty whatever is ideal—and you had better begin to study metaphysics.
But what we were wishing to say is this—that whatever may be the truth with regard to human female beauty
-Windermere, seen by sunset from the spot where we now stand, Elleray, is at this moment the most beautiful scene on this earth. The reasons why it must be so are multitudinous. Not only can the eye take in, but the imagination, in its awakened power, can master all the component elements of the spectacle-and while it adequately discerns and sufficiently feels the influence of each, is alive throughout all its essence to the divine agency of the whole. The charm lies in its entirety-its unity, which is so perfect-so seemeth it to our eyes that 'tis in itself a complete world—of which not a line could be altered without disturbing the spirit of beauty that lies recumbent there, wherever the earth meets the sky. There is nothing here fragmentary; and had a poet
been born, and bred here all his days, nor known aught of fair or grand beyond this liquid vale, yet had he sung truly and profoundly of the shows of nature. No rude and shapeless masses of mountains-such as too often in our own dear Scotland encumber the earth with dreary desolation-with gloom without grandeur-and magnitude without magnificence. But almost in orderly array, and irregular just up to the point of the picturesque, where poetry is not needed for the fancy's pleasure, stand the race of giants-mist-veiled transparently-or crowned with clouds slowly settling of their own accord into all the forms that beauty loves, when with her sister spirit peace she descends at eve from highest heaven to sleep among the shades of earth. Sweet would be the hush of lake, woods, and skies, were it not so solemn ! The silence is that of a temple, and, as we face the west, irresistibly are we led to adore. The mighty sun occupies with his flaming retinue all the region. Mighty yet mild -for from his disk a while insufferably bright, is effused now a gentle crimson light, that dyes all the west in one uniform glory, save where yet round the cloud-edges lingers the purple, the green, and the yellow lustre, unwilling to forsake the violet beds of the sky, changing, while we gaze, into heavenly roses; till that prevailing crimson colour at last gains entire possession of the heavens, and all the previous splendour gives way to one glory, whose paramount purity, lustrous as fire, is in its steadfast beauty sublime. And, lo! the lake has received that sunset into its bosom! It, too, softly burns with a crimson glowand as sinks the sun below the mountains, Windermere, gorgeous in her array as the western sky, keeps fadefading away as it fades, till at last all the ineffable splendour expires, and the spirit that has been lost to this world in the transcendent vision, or has been seeing all things appertaining to this world in visionary symbols, returns from that celestial sojourn, and knows that its lot is, henceforth as heretofore, to walk weariedly, perhaps, and wobegone, over the no longer divine but disenchanted earth!
It is very kind in the moon and stars-just like themto rise so soon after sunset. The heart sinks at the sight of the sky, when a characterless night succeeds such a