« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
tiation into the arts, mysteries, spells and potions, in that the whole chemical process, by which she reduces herself down to the most fashionable standard of insignificance; together with specimens of the strait waistcoats, the lacings, the bandages, and the yarious ingenious instruments with which she puts nature to the rack, and tortures herself into a proper figure to be admired.
Farewell, thou sweetest of slave-drivers! The echoes that repeat to a lover's ear the song of his mistress are not more soothing than tidings from those we love. Let thy answer to my letters be speedy; and never, I pray thee, for a moment, cease to watch over the prosperity of my house, and the welfare of my beloved wives. Let them want for nothing, my friend, but feed them plentifully on honey, boiled rice, and water gruel; so that when I return to the blessed land of my fathers, if that can ever be, I may find them improved in size and loveliness, and sleek as the graceful elephants that range the green valley of Abimar.
When a man is quietly journeying downwards into the valley of the shadow of departed youth, and begins to contemplate in a shortened perspective the end of his pilgrimage, he becomes more solicitous than ever that the remainder of bis wayfaring should be smooth and pleasant, and the evening of his life, like the evening of a summer's day, fade away in mild uninterrupted serenity. If haply his heart has escaped uninjured, through the dangers of a seductive world, it may then administer to the purest of his felicities, and its chords vibrate more musically for the trials they have sustained like the viol, which yields a melody sweet in proportion to its age.
To a mind thus temperately harmonized, thus matured and mellowed by a long lapse of years, there is
something truly congenial in the quiet enjoyment of our early autumn, amid the tranquillities of the country There is a sober and chastened air of gaiety diffused over the face of nature, peculiarly interesting to an old man; and when he views the surrounding landscape withering under his eye, it seems as if he and nature were taking a last farewell of each other, and parting with a melancholy smile-like a couple of old friends, who, having sported away the spring and summer of life together, part at the. approach of winter with a kind of prophetic fear that they are never to meet again.
It is either my good fortụne or mishap to be keenly susceptible to the influence of the atmosphere; and I can feel in the morning, before I open my window, whether the wind is easterly. It will not, therefore, I presume be considered an extravagant instance of vainglory when I assert, that there are few men who can discriminate more accurately in the different varieties of damps, fogs, Scotch-mists, and north-east storms, than myself. To the great discredit of my philosophy I confess, I seldom fail to anathematize and excommunicate the weather, when it sports too rudely with my sensitive system; but then I always enaeavour to atone therefore, by eulogizing it when deserving of approbation. And as most of my readers, 'simple folk! make but one distinction, to wit, rain and sunshine-living in most honest ignorance of the various nice shades which distinguish one fine day from another-I take the trouble, from time to time, of letting them into some of the secrets of nature, —80 will they be the better, enabled to enjoy her beauties, with the zest of connoisseurs, and derive at least as much information from my pages as from the weather-wise lore of the almanack.
Much of my recreation, since I retreated to the Hall, has consisted in making little excursions through the neighbourhood; which abounds in the variety of wild, romantic, and luxuriant landscape that generally characterizes the scenery in the vicinity of our rivers. There is not an eminence within a circuit of many miles
but commands an extensive range of diversified and enichanting prospect.
Often have I rambled to the summit of some favourite hill, and thence, with feelings sweetly tranquil as the lucid expanse of the heavens that canopied me, bave noted the slow and almost imperceptible changes that mark the waning year. There are many features peculiar to our autumn, and which give it an individual character: the
green and yellow melancholy" that first steals over the landscape-the mild and steady serenity of the weather, and the transparent purity of the atmosphere, speak not merely to the senses but the heart,-it is the season of liberal emotions. To this succeeds fantastic gaiety, a motley dress, which the woods assume, where green and yellow, orange, purple, crimson and scarlet, are whimsically blended together.-A sickly splendour this !-like the wild and broken-hearted gaiety that sometimes precedes dissolution, or that childish sportiveness of superannuated age, proceeding, not from a vigorous flow of animal spirits, but from the decay and imbecility of the mind. We might, perhaps, be deceived by this gaudy garb of nature, were it not for the rustling of the falling leaf, which, breaking on the stillness of the scene, seems to announce, in prophetic whispers, the dreary winter that is approaching: When I have sometimes seen a thrifty young oak changing its hue of sturdy vigour for a bright but transient glow of red, it has recalled to my mind the treacherous bloom that once mantled the cheek of a friend who is now no more; and which, while it seemed to promise a long life of jocund spirits was the sure precursor of premature decay. In a little while, and this ostentatious foliage disappears--the close of autumn leaves but one wide expanse of dusky brown, save where some rivulet steals along, bordered with little stripes of green grass-the woodland echoes no more to the carols of the feathered tribes that sported in the leafy covert, and its solitude and silence are uninterrupted except by the plaintive whistle of the quail, the barking of the squirrel, or the still more melancholy wintry wind, which, rushing and swelling through the hollows of the
mountains, sighs through the leafless branches of the grove, and seems to mourn the desolation of the year.
To ope who, like myself, is fond of drawing comparisons between the different divisions of life and those of the seasons, there will appear a striking analogy which connects the feelings of the aged with the decline of the year.
Often as I contemplate the mild, uniform, and genial lustre with which the sun cheers and invigorates us in the month of October, and the almost imperceptible haze which, without obscuring, tempers all the asperities of the landscape, and gives to every object a character of stillness and repose, I cannot help comparing it with that portion of existence, when the spring of youthful hope and the summer of the passions having gone by, reason assumes an undisputed sway, and lights us on with bright but undazzling lustre, adown the hill of life. There is a full and mature luxuriance in the fields that fills the bosom with generous and disinterested content. It is not the thoughtless extravagance of spring, prodigal only in blossoms, nor the languid voluptuousness of summer,
feverish in its enjoyments, and teeming only with immature abundance it is that certain fruition of the labours of the past that prospect of comfortable realities, which those will be sure to enjoy who have improved the bounteous smiles of Heaven, nor wasted away their spring and summer in empty trifling or criminal indulgence,
Cousin Pindar, who is my constant companion in these expeditions, and who still possesses much of the fire and energy of youthful sentiment, and a buxom hilarity of the spirits, often indeed draws me from these halfmelancholy reveries, and makes me feel young again by the enthusiasm with which he contemplates, and the animation with which he eulogizes the beauties of nature displayed before him. His enthusiastic disposition never allows him to enjoy things by halves, and his feelings are continually breaking out in notes of admiration and ejaculations that sober reason might perhaps deem extravagant. But for my part, when I see a hale hearty old man, who has jostled through the rough path of the world, without
having worn away the fine edge of his feelings, or blunted his sensibility to natural and moral beauty, I compare him to the evergreen of the forest, whose colours, instead of fading at the approach of winter, seem to assume additional lustre when contrasted with the surrounding desolation. Such a man is my friend Pindar;--yet sometimes, and particularly at the approach of evening, even he will fall in with my humour; but he soon recovers his natural tone of spirits; and, mounting on the elasticity of his mind, like Ganymede on the eagle's wing, he soars to the etherial regions of sunshine and fancy.
One afternoon we had strolled to the top of a high hill in the neighbourhood of the Hall, which commands an almost boundless prospect; and as the shadows began to lengthen around us, and the distant mountains to fade into mists, my cousin was seized with a moralizing fit. “ It seems to me,
said he, laying his hand lightly on my shoulder, " that there is just at this season, and this hour, a sympathy between us and the world we are now contemplating. The evening is stealing upon nature as well as
us;—the shadows of the opening day have given place to those of its close; and the only difference is, that in the morning they were before us, now they are behind; and that the first vanished in the splendours of noon-day, the latter will be lost in the oblivion of night.- OurMay of life,' my dear Launce, has for ever fled: our summer is over and gone:- but," continued he, suddenly recovering himself and slapping me gaily on the shoulder,—“but why should we repine?- What though the capricious zephyrs of spring, the heats and burricanes of summer, have given place to the sober sunshine of autumn-and though the woods begin to assume the dappled livery of decay!-yet the prevailing colour is still green-gay, sprightly green.
.6. Let us then comfort ourselves with this reflection; that though the shades of the morning have given place to those of the evening,—though the spring is past, the summer over, and the autumn come,--still you and I go on our way rejoicing ;-and while, like the lofty mountains of our Southern America, our heads are cover