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eight hours ago! Then, truly, wert thou a shining light, and high aloft in the room gloaming burned thy clear crest like a star! During its midnight silence, a memento mori, of which my spirit is not afraid ? Now thou art dying-dying-dead. My cell is in darkness. But methinks I see another-a purer-a clearer light,one more directly from heaven. I touch but a spring in a wooden shutter, and lo! the full blaze of day. Oh! why should we mortal beings dread that night-prisonthe grave!
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1827.)
Art thou beautiful, as of old, O wild, moorland, sylvan and pastoral parish-the paradise in which my spirit dwelt beneath the glorious dawning of life? Can it be, beloved world of boyhood, that thou art indeed beautiful, as of old ? Though round and round thy boundaries in a few minutes could fly the flapping dove,—though the martens, wheeling to and fro that ivied and wall-flowered ruin of a castle, central in its own domain, seem in their more distant flight, to glance their crescent wings over a vale rejoicing apart in a kirk-spire of its own; yet how full of streams, and rivulets, and rills, art thou each with its own peculiar murmur! How endless the interchange of woods and meadows, glens, dells, and broomy nooks, without number, among banks and braes !- And then of human dwellings—how rises the smoke, ever and anon, into the sky, all neighbouring on each other, so that the cockcrow is heard from homestead to homestead, -while as you wander onwards, each roof still rises unexpectedly-and as solitary, as if it had been far remote ! Fairest of Scotland's thousand parishes-neither highJand, nor lowland—but undulating, like the sea in sunset, after a day of storms,-yes, heaven's blessing be upon thee! Thou art indeed beautiful, as of old !
The same heavens! More blue than any colour that tinges the flowers of earth-even than the violet placed among the veins of a virgin's bosom. The stillness of those lofty clouds makes them seem whiter than the snow! Return, O lark! to thy grassy nest, in the furrow of the green-brairded corn, for thy brooding mate can no longer hear thee soaring in the sky.--Methinks, there is little or no change on these coppice-woods, with their full budding branches all impatient for the spring. Yet twice have the axe and billhook levelled them with the mossy stones, since among the broomy and briery knolls I sought the gray linnet's nest, or wandered to spy, among the rustling leaves, the robin-redbreast seemingly forgetful of his winter benefactor, man !-Surely there were trees here in former times, that now are gone-tall, far-spreading single trees, in whose shade used to lie the ruminating cattle, with the small herd-girl asleep! Gone are they, and dimly remembered, as the uncertain shadows of dreams; yet not more forgotten than some living beings with whom my infancy and boyhood held conversewhose voices, laughter, eyes, forehead-hands so often grasped -arms linked in mine, as we danced along the braes—have long ceased to be more than images and echoes, incapable of commanding so much as one single tear. For oh! the treachery of memory to all the holiest human affections, when beguiled by the slow but sure sorcery of time!
It is MAY-DAY, and I shall be happy as the season. What although some sad and solemn thoughts come suddenly across me, the day is not at nightfall felt to have been the less delightful, because that shadows now and then bedimmed it, and moments almost mournful, of an unhymning hush, took possession of field or forest. I am all alone,-a solitary pedestrian,--and obeying the fine impulses of a will whose motives are changeable as the chameleon's hues, my feet shall bear me glancingly along to the merry music of streams,- linger by the silent shores of lochs, -or upon the hill-summit pause, I the only spectator of a panorama painted by spring for my sole delight,-or plunge into the old wood's magnificent exclusion from sky,—where, all summer long, day is as night, but not so now, for this is the season of buds and blossoms-and the cushat's nest is yet visible on the almost leafless boughs, and the sunshine streams in upon the groundflowers, that in another month will be cold and pale in the forest gloom, almost as those that bedeck the dead when the vault-door is closed and all is silence,
What! shall I linger here within a little mile of the Manse, wherein and among it spleasant bounds my infant and boyish life glided, murmuring away like a stream, that never, till it leaves its native hills, knows taint or pollution-and not hasten on to the dell, in which, nest. like, it is built and guarded by some wonderful felicity of situation, equally against all the winds ? No-thither as yet have I not courage to direct my footsteps-for that venerable man has long been dead—not one of his ancient household now remains on earth. There the change, though it was gradual and unpainful, according to the gentlest laws of nature, has been entire and complete. The old familiar faces I can dream of, but never more shall see and the voices that are now heard within these walls, what can they ever be to me, when I would fain listen in the silence of my own spirit to the echoes of departed years ? It is an appalling trial to approach a place where once we have been happier-Oh! happier far than ever we can be on this earth again-ay—a worse evil doth it seem to my imagination to return to paradise with a changed and saddened heart, than at first to be driven from it into the outer world, if still permitted to carry thither something of that spirit that had glorified our celestial prime!
But yonder, I see, yet towers the sycamore on the crown of the hill, the first great tree in the parish that used to get green, for stony as seems the hard glebe, constricted by its bare and gnarled roots, they draw sustenance from afar; and not another knoll on which the sun so delights to pour his beams, from morn to dewy
Weeks before any other sycamore, and as early even as the alder or the birch,—the GLORY OF MOUNT PLEASANT, for so we schoolboys called it, unfolded itself like a banner. You could then see only the low windows of the dwelling, -for eaves, roof, rigging, and chimneys, all disappeared, and then, when you stood beneath, was not the sound of the bees, like the very sound of the sea itself, continuous, unabating, all day long unto evening, when, as if the tide of life had ebbed, there was a perfect silence ?
Mount PLEASANT! well indeed dost thou deserve the
name, bestowed on thee, perhaps long ago, not by any one of the humble proprietors, but by the general voice of praise, all visiters being won by thy cheerful beauty. For from that shaded platform, what a sweet vision of fields and meadows, knolls, braes, and hills, uncertain gleamings of a river, the smoke of many houses, and glittering, perhaps in the sunshine, the spire of the house of God! To have seen Adam Morrison, the elder, sitting with his solemn, his austere Sabbath-face, beneath the pulpit, with his expressive eyes fixed on the preacher, you could not but have judged him to be a man of a stern character and austere demeanour. To have seen him at labour on the working.days, you might almost have thought him the serf of some tyrant lord, for into all the toils of the field he carried the force of a mind that would suffer nothing to be undone that strength or skill could achieve; but within the humble porch of his own house, beside his own board, and his own fireside, he was a man to be kindly esteemed by his guests, by his own family tenderly and reverently beloved. His wife was the comeliest matron in the parish, a woman of active habits and a strong mind, but tempering the natural sternness of her husband's character with that genial and jocund cheerfulness, that of all the lesser virtues is the most efficient to the happiness of a household. One daughter only had they, and I could charm my own heart even now, by evoking the vanished from oblivion, and imaging her over and over again in the light of words; but although all objects, animate and inanimate, seem always tinged with an air of sadness when they are past, —and as at present I ain determined to be cheerful-obstinately to resist all access of melancholy-an enemy to the pathetic—and a scorner of shedders of tears—therefore let Mary Morrison rest in her grave, and let me paint a pleasant picture of a May-day afternoon, and enjoy it as it was enjoyed of old, beneath that stately sycamore, with the grandisonant name of The Glory of Mount PLEASANT.
There, under that murmuring shadow, round and round that noble stem, there used on May-day to be fitted a somewhat fantastic board, all deftly arrayed in homespun drapery, white as the patches of unmelted snow on the