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Let us off to London for an hour or alone! yes—thousands and hundreds two; not by that unhappy mail-coach, of thousands were on foot then, as which is not once suffered to cool its well as ourselves, and on horses and axle-tree all the way from this to in chariots. But still we were alone. York Minster, and in which we have Not in misanthropy-no-no-no-for committed no crime of sufficient atro- then, as now, and with more intense, city to deserve imprisonment. No— more burning passion, with strongerours be the stiff, breeze-loving Smack; winged and farther-flighted imaginaor gallant Steamer, that, never gun- tion did we love our kind, for our wale in, but ever upright as the state- thoughts were merry as nightingales, ly swan, cleaves blast and breaker as untamed as eagles, and tender as they both come right a-head,—the doves. But we were young—and we one blackening, and the other whiten- were in a manner foreigners—and few ing,—while Bain's trumpet is heard friends had we but the sunbeams and in the mingled roar, and under his in- the shadows of our own restless soul. trepid skill all the hundreds on board From the solemn and sacred enclosure feel as safe as in their own beds, of thy bell-chiming and cloistered though it is near nightfall, and we are haunts-Rhedicyna! did we come,now among the shores and shallows of the tomes of the old world's treasures the Swin, where ships untold have closed for a season-Homer, and Pingone to pieces.-See, there, a wreck! dar, and Eschylus, and Plato, and the
As for London, it is long since we Stagyrite, and Demosthenes, and have sported our figure in Bond Street Thucydides, left for a while asleep on or the Park. The House of Lords the shelves of the Gothic-windowed has long been the object of our most Library, where so many musing days distant respect-and, generally speak- had cloudlike floated by, nor failed ing, at the West End, we verily be- to leave behind them an immortal inlieve we are about as well known as spiration, pure and high as that breathCaptain Parry, or any other British ed from the beauty and the grandeur officer, will ever be at the North of the regions of setting suns,—and Pole.
all at once, from the companionship Yet once we knew London well— of the dead did we plunge into that of both by day when it was broad awake, the living ! and by night “ when all that mighty From the companionship of the heart was lying still.”
We remem dead! For having bade farewell to ber now, as yesterday, the eve our sweet native Scotland, and kissed, which we first-all alone and on foot, ere we parted, the grass and the flowe reached Hyde-Park Corner. All ers with a shower of filial tears 1
ATHENEUM, VOL. 1, 3d series.
having bade farewell to all her glens, source humming louder and louder as now aglimmer in the blended light of we approached, a magnificent hum as imagination and memory-with their from a city with a thousand gates of cairns and kirks, their low-chimneyed everlasting ingress and egress to all huts and their high turreted halls the nations of the earth ! their free-flowing rivers, and lochs Not till then had we known anydashing like seas—we were all at thing of our own being. Before, all once buried, not in the Cimmerian had been dream and vision, through gloom, but the Cerulean glitter, of which we had sunk, and kept sink Oxford's ancient academic Groves. sinking, like flowers surcharged with The Genius of the place fell upon us liquid radiance, down to the palaces -yes! we hear now, in the renewed of nasads, and mermaids, and fairy delight of the awe of our youthful folk, inhabiting the emerald caves, spirit, the pealing organ in that Cha- and walking through the pearl-leaved pel called the Beautiful-we see the forests and asphodel meadows of an Saints on the stained windows-at the unreal and unsubstantial world! For Altar the picture of one up Calvary a cloudy curtain had still seemed to meekly bearing the cross ! It seem- hang between us and the old world! ed, then, that our hearts had no need darkening even the fields of Maraeven of the kindness of kindred-of thon and Platæa, whose heroes were the country where we were born, and but as shadows. Now we were in the that had received the continued bless- eddies—the vortices—the whirlpools ings of our enlarging love ! Yet of the great roaring sea of life! and away went, even then, sometimes our away we were carried, not afraid,
yet thoughts to Scotland, like carrier- somewhat trembling in the awe of pigeons wafting love-messages beneath our new delight, into the heart of their unwearied wings! They went the habitations of all this world's and they returned, and still their going most imperial, most servile-most tyand coming was blest. But ambition rannous and most slavish passions ! touched us, as with the wand of a all that was most elevating and most magician from a vanished world and a degrading-most startling and most vanished time. The Greek tongue- subduing too_most trying by temptamultitudinous as the sea—kept like tion of pleasure, and by repulsion of the sea sounding in our ears, through pain—into the heart of all joy. and all the stillness of that world of towers grief-all calm and all storm—all danand temples. Lo! Zeno, with his gerous trouble, and more dangerous arguments hard and high, beneath the rest—all rapture and all agony-crime, Porch ! Plato divinely discoursing in guilt, misery, madness and despair. Grove and Garden ! The Stagyrite A thousand voices, each with a differsearching for truth in the profounder ent tone, cried us on-yet over them gloom! The sweet voice of the smil- all one voice, with which the rest ing Socrates, cheering the cloister's were still in unison—the voice of the shade and the court's sunshine! And hidden wickedness that is in the soul when the thunders of Demosthenes of every man who is born of a woceased, we heard the harping of the man, and that sometimes as if it were old blind glorious Mendicant, whom, of guardian angel, and sometimes of for the loss of eyes, Apollo rewarded familiar Demon, now lured, persuaded, with the gift of immortal song! And urged, drove us on-on, on, in amongst that was our companionship of the shoals and shallows of that dim heavdead!
ing sea, where many wrecks were visiBut the voice—the loud and nearble, sheer hulks heaved up on the voice of the living world came upon dark dry—or mast-heads but a foot us—and starting up, like a man wa out of the foam-here what seemed a kened from the world of sleep and beacon, and there a light-house, but dreams, we flew to meet it on the on we bore, all sail set, to the very wind-onwards and onwards to its sky-scrapers, with flags flying, and all
the Ship of Life manned by a crew dying eyes—the ambition, neither low of rebellious passions—and Prudence, nor ignoble, of youth's aspiring hopes, that old Palinurus, at the helm fast for, not altogether uncrowned had asleep, and then, as if in his own been our temples, even with the doom prophetic of ours, overboard Muses' wreath—a whisper of Hope amongst breakers !
faint, far-off, and uncertain, and hapFor a moment, we thought of the ly even now unrealised its promisegreat cataracts of Scotland-Corra- and far down buried, but instinct with Linn-Foyers-thousands of name- spirit, beneath them all, a life-deep less torrents tumbling over mountains love for Her, that Orphan-maid-so to the sea—her murmuring forests and human, yet so visionary—afar-off in caves a-moaning for ever to the winds the beauty of her heaven-protected and waves round the cliff-bound coast innocence, beneath the shadow of that of Cape Wrath ! But that was the old castle, where by day the starlings voice of Nature—dead in her thun- looked down on her loveliness, soleders, even as in the silence of the sitting among the ruins, and for her grave. This was the voice of Life- the wood-lark, Scotia's nightingale, sublimer far—and smiting the soul did sing all night long-a life-deep with a sublimer sympathy. Now, our love, call it passion, pity, friendship, whole being was indeed broad awake brotherly affection, all united together -hitherto, in its deepest stirrings, by smiles, sighs, and tears-songs it had been as asleep. All those sung as by an angel in the moonlight beautiful and delightful reveries van- glen-prayers in that oratory among ished away, as something too airy and the cliffs--the bliss of meetings and indolent for the spirit-passive no of partings among the glimmering more—but rejoicing in its strength, woods, sanctified by her presence-of like a full-fledged young eagle, leaping that long, last, eternal farewell ! from the edge of its eyry, fearlessly Therefore, our spirit bore a charmand at once, over the cliff, and away offed life into that world of danger and into the bosom of the storm !
death. That face to us was holy, Whither shall we look? Whither though then all alive in its loveliness shall we fly? Denizens of a new -and, oh! that it should ever have world—a new universe-chartered li- been dead-holy as the face of some bertines, as yet unblamed by Con- figure -some marble figure of a saint science, who took part with the pas- lying on a tomb. Its smile was with sions, knowing not that even her own us even when our eyes knew it notsacred light might be obscured by the its voice as the dying close of music, flapping of their demon-wings! And when our ear was given to other why should Conscience, even in that sounds less pensive and divine. danger, have been afraid? It is not With all its senses in a transport, one of her duties to start at shadows. our soul was now in the mighty LonGod-given to the human breast, she don ! Every single street-musician suffers not her state to be troubled by seemed to us as an Orpheus. Each crowds of vain apprehensions, or she band of female singers, some harping would fall in her fear. Even then, as they sung, and others, with light Virtue had her sacred allies in our heart. guitar ribbon-bound to their graceful The love of that nature on whose shoulders, to us were as the Musesbosom we had been bred—a sleep- each airy group very Goddesses, ing spark of something like poetry in “ Knit with the Graces and the Loves in our souls unextinguishable, and pre
dance," servative of the innocence it enlight- and leading on the Hours along the ened—reverence of the primitive sim- illuminated atmosphere, where each plicity of beloved Scotland's Faith lamp was as a star! The whole World the memory of her old, holy, and he- seemed houses, palaces, domes, thearoic songs—the unforgotten blessing of tres, and temples—and London the a mother's living lips, of a father's universal name! Yet there was often
a shudder as the stream of terrible singing and scattering her flowers, enjoyment went roaring by—and the was to us a new Image of a purer Infaces of all those lost creatures nocence, a more woful sorrow, than those daughters of sin and sorrow we knew before to have ever had its with fair but wan faces, hollow bright birth or burial-place on this earth. eyes—and shrieks of laughter, appal. There we saw the Shadow of the led the heart that wondered at their mightiest Julius standing-imperial beauty, and then started to hear afar still—before his beloved Brutus in the off, and as in a whisper, the word Tent; and as he waved a majestic
Innocence,” as if it were the name upbraiding, threatening, and warning, of something sacred in another life from the hand that had subdued the and another world ; for here guilt was world, we heard the Cæsar say, « We in its glory and its grief, women angels will meet again at Philippi.” There of light no more, but fiends of dark- we, too, as well as the Thane, heard ness, hunting and hunted to despair a voice cry to all the house, Sleep and death!
no more-Glammis hath murdered How dreamlike the flowings of the sleep-and therefore Cawdor shall Isis by Godstow's ivied Ruin, where sleep no more !”—and in glided, with blossomed, bloomed, and perished in stone eyes and bloodless face, sleepan hour, Rosamunda—flower of the walking Remorse, in the form of a world ! How cheerful, as if waked stately Lady wringing her hands, and from a dream, glides on the famous groaning, “ Out, damned spot,” while stream by Christ-Church' Cathedral the Haunted felt in her dream, that grove! How sweet by Iffley's Saxon “ not all the perfumes of Arabia tower ! By Nuneham’s lime-tree could sweeten that little hand !" shade how serene as peace! But here Then there was eloquence in the thou hast changed thy name and thy world, that is, in London, in those
ture into the sea-seeking Thames, days; or did the soul then half-create alive and loud with the tide that mur the thunders she heard pealing from murs of the ocean-foam, and bridged the lips of Burke, and Pitt, and Fox, magnificently as becomes the river the great orators of England, and that makes glad the City of the startle at the flash of her own lightKings who are the umpires of the ning ? But the old pillars of the sowhole world's wars ! Down sailed cial edifice then seemed to rock as to our spirit, along with the floating an earthquake—and the lips of comstandard of England, to the Nore. mon men, in the general inspiration, There her Feet lay moored, like a were often touched with fire. Even thunder-cloud whose lightning rules now we see their flashing eyes, their the sea
knit brows, their clenched hands, “ Her march is o'er the mountain-wave, their outstretched arms—their “ face Her home is on the deep !"
inflamed”-even now we hear their But it is night, and lo! the crowd- voices, flowing like majestic streams, ed Theatre is ablaze with Beauty ; and
or loud as the headlong cataract-of as Tragedy, “with solemn stole, those whom the world consents to call comes sweeping by,” the piled-up mul- great. We thought, as we looked titude is all as hush as death. Then and listened, of Him who first the “buried Majesty of Den “ Wielded at will that fierce democracy, mark”—though mimic all the scene Shook the arsenal, and fulmined over Greecewas awful and full of dread to our
From Macedon to Artaxerxes' throne;" young imagination, as if indeed “re nor felt that the son of Chatham was visiting the glimpses of the moon," on less than “ the Thunderer," as he the old battlements of Elsineur-the stood proudly denouncing vengeance fine, pensive, high philosophy of the against the legions of the Tricolor, and melancholy, world-distracted Hamlet, prophesying the triumph of the gloriflowed as if from his own very prince- ous Isle, " whose shores beat back ly lips—the fair Ophelia, as she went the ocean's foamy feet.”
The spirit of the world was then and intellectual empire of mindawakened by dreadful outcries from nor, in the world's admiration, is the too long a sleep-and the alarum-bell triumphal car of victory unworthy of that then kept tolling far and wide being placed near the Muses' bower. over the sky, though now its iron What mighty ones have breathed the tongue is at rest, or but trembling in air of that Great City-have walked that “ hollow," so soon and so easy in inspiration along the banks of Engmade to give forth its sullen music, land's metropolitan-river-have been hangs still over the nations, who, un- inhumed in her burial-places, humble der even the silence of its shadow, or high, frequented by common and shall sink no more into disgraceful careless feet, or by footsteps treading slumbers. The ears of kings, and reverentially, while the visitor's eyes princes, and nobles, were astounded ; are fixed on marble image or monument, and all Europe groaned or gloried sacred to virtue, to valor, or to genius, when the Bourbon's in-vain-anointed the memory of the prime men of the head, was with the few fatal words earth! These, London, are thy guarheld up dissevered, “ Behold the dian spirits—these thy tutelary gods. head of a tyrant !") and the axe, that when the horrid howl of night—the made no respect of persons, bit the howl of all those distracted passions fair neck of Marie Antoinette, nath- is hushed—and the soul, relieved from less all those glorious tresses whose the sorrow in which it thinks of sin beauty had dazzled the world. Life when an eye or ear-witness to its was then struck, over all its surface unhallowed orgies, lists up its eyes to and all its depths, with a stormy sun- the stars so bright and beautiful, so sishine-dread alternations of bright- lent and so serene—then remembereth ness and blackness, that made the she the names, the endowments, the soul to quake alike in its hopes and in achievements, of the immortal dead. its fears. Who wished, then, to es- There—largest and most lustrouscape the contagion ?-Not even the that star that “dwells apart”—is the gentlest, the most fervent, the most image of Milton! That other, softdevoted lovers of domestic peace. burning, dewy, and almost twinkling They, too, joined the hymn of thanks- star-now seeming to shine out into giving—and one Pæan seemed to stun intenser beauty, and now almost dim, the sky. But the very clouds ere from no obscuring cloud or mist, but long began to drop blood, and then as if some internal spirit shaded the good men paused even to obey the light for a moment, even as an angel stern voice of Justice, in fear that the may veil his countenance with his dewy voice of Mercy should never wings—that is the star of Spenser ! more be heard on earth. Call it not And of all the bright people of the a reaction—for that is a paltry word skies, to fancy's gaze, thou, most but thankful to the Great God did lovely Planet, art the very Fairymen become, when at last standing si- queen! lent on the desolate shore, they saw Therefore, to us, enthusiasts then the first ebb of that fiercely-flowing in poetry—and may that enthusiasm tide, and knew that the sea was to re- survive even the season“ of brightness turn to its former limits, and sweep in the grass and glory in the flower,” away no more the peasant's hut and which has almost now passed awaythe prince's palace.
to us, who thought of Poets as beings That was a time indeed, for men set apart from the world which their to speak, to whom Heaven had grant- lays illumined—how solemn—how saed the gift of eloquence. And Lon- cred-how sublime a delight-deaf don then held many eloquent, who, and blind to all the sights and sounds when the storm was hushed, relapsed of the common day—to look on the into men of common speech.
very house in which some great Poet The poet and sage walk hand in had been born-lived—or died ! Were hand together through the moral the house itself gone, and some ordi