« VorigeDoorgaan »
Marston, of the "Patrician's Daughter," is one of the most pleasing men I have met-gentle, high-bred, yet thoroughly unassuming. Bailey, of "Festus," is a delightful person-modest, reserved, yet far from proud; his conversation entirely free from that unhealthy mysticism which sometimes infects his poetry. Thomas Aird and Charles Mackay resemble each other very much in the blended mildness and manhood of their style of manners. Aird's conversation is one of the sweetest and most natural outflows of mind and heart I have ever listened to. Professor Nichol is a rapid, frank, and vivid converser. Mary Howitt struck me as the best combination of the authoress and the woman I ever saw; the two elements blend, as well as meet. Emerson of America is always on his guard-is cold in seeming, and has at times an expression of eye which is profound rather than pleasing, subtle rather than clear; but he slips out now and then searching questions at, rather than ideas of, nature and man. Garrison, of the same country, has a brow like alabaster, an eye of mild and piercing intelligence, and converses with the depth and dignity of a sage. Charles Swain of Manchester has dark hair and eyes, is tall, and looks like a poet. Archibald Alison is cold, still, and silent as an iceberg. Professor Blackie is bold, rattling, fearless, and careless; one who seems always about to sing, and who often does burst out into snatches of German song. He has quite the look of an Italian improvvisatore. John Robertson, late of the Westminster, and Samuel Brown, are both remarkable conversationists; the one for strength somewhat jagged and abrupt, the other for elasticity, swiftness, elegance, and beauty. Miall, of the Nonconformist, is distinguished by the thoughtful shrewdness and earnestness of his talk. Hugh Miller seems in company to be always pursuing some stern continuous train of thought, from which he looks up now and then to throw out remarks which do not seem to come from the depth of his heart, or to interfere with the secret under-current; and whatever he be talking of, his mind is always in the bowels of the earth. On
cannot be the instrument of so much good, I am persuaded, as the humblest and most hard-worked clergyman or city missionary, who carries the Gospel to the poor and the ignorant, and whose presence is welcomed through a hundred hovels as a messenger of light, comfort, and joy. "This is true fame."
At the same time, the discharge of clerical duty is perfectly consistent with, and ought to be more closely connected with literary accomplishments, and a sympathy with the spirit of the age. If there were more Charles Wolfs, Robert Halls, John Fosters, Thomas Chalmerses, and Thomas Arnolds, there would be fewer Thomas Carlyles and John Sterlings. In my own humble way I have sincerely and conscientiously sought to unite and harmonize literature and the duties of a clergyman; and however imperfectly I may have succeeded, I do not regret the attempt, since I believe it has, in some instances, made my voice be heard with greater deference, first, when I spoke to Christians of the glories of genius and the charms of literature, and far more when I spoke to young lovers of literature, of the superior claims and infinitely higher merits of the Book of God. This has comforted me under many misrepresentations; and should I be still called an Ishmaelite, I lift up the name, and bind it as a crown to me, IF that word simply mean that I belong to no party in the Church, and to no clique or coterie in literature; but not, if it mean that I am an enemy to literature or religion themselves, although, as I shall afterwards show, convictions have grown on me, that science, literature, philosophy, and even our present forms of faith, are dwindling and dying away in the dawn of that bright and final revelation of Christ which I expect, like a new sun, to illuminate a desperate world and a distracted Church.
REMINISCENCES OF SCENERY.
WHO has not marked in his memory, with a white stone, certain days, weeks, scenes, circumstances of peculiar enjoyment, when the heart said, "It is good for me to be here,”when the earth seemed lifted nearer to the skies-when a softer gold was poured upon the autumn landscape, and a browner glory on the streams and the woods-perhaps hours of intercourse with the objects of passionate love; or single splendid days, standing out, amidst a succession of dark ones, like silver birch-trees diversifying a wood of black firs; or meetings with kindred spirits, when the soul, imprisoned before, burst out, like a Northern river suddenly thawed, and rolled on in power and joy; or evenings of spring or summertide, so heavenly fair between the combined charms of sunset and of the great rising moon, that men seemed walking like gods, and women like angels, upon earth-and we thought of "an eve in a sinless world ;" or faces of maidens or children that have gleamed on us in the streets, so beautiful as to affect our imaginations and our dreams for ever, though we were to see them no more; or solitary walks along solitary paths, in secret woods, or along barren moors, or
"Where deeply, darkly, far below,
Went sounding on a lonely river;"
and when "all power was given `us," in meditation, over subjects and realms of thought, strange and unsubdued before; or certain scenes of surpassing beauty, shown in the light of days that seemed created to reveal them in all their glory? Some such recollections I have, in my chequered
life, almost all connected with beautiful natural scenery; and I now proceed to depict a few of those which are dearest to my imagination.
I remember spending one very interesting day, in a peatmoss to the south of Strath-Rennie, on the road to the Lowlands. This was an extensive morass, whither the villagers were wont, in June, to repair, to provide themselves with winter fuel. I determined, in the year 1828, to join a party of this kind, which was leaving the village, to spend one day of veritable toil under a burning sun. I wished a new sensation, and I got it. It was fine to rise at three in the morning,
and to see the eastern half of the northern horizon one red line, pointing, like a finger, to the unrisen sun; to hear the earliest notes of birds; to trample on the dewy grass; to admire the calm grey mountains, from which the mists of night had risen, but which the beams of day had not yet touched; to notice, by and by, the "morning spread upon the mountains," peak telegraphing to peak, through a long, lofty, and most rugged range, the fact that the King of glory had entered the sky, to climb a slow-winding road, going up the hill, and from every point of ascent opening up some new aspect of grandeur, beauty, or wildness; to mix in the glee, watch the flirtations, and listen to the stories of the rustic party of lads and lasses, with whom I had mingled; to feel myself, at last, fairly in the moss, and to commence the day's work with the determination to be behind none of my companions in diligence, and to snatch laurels from the very bogs! How I did work for some hours, hurling my wheel-barrow with the wet peats, which the caster (as he was called) had dug out! How delicious, as the sun became hot, to quench our thirst at the large pails of buttermilk and whey which were standing near! How I relieved the labour by discourse with my next neighbour, about Irving's Millennium (he was that summer in Scotland), and amused him by speculating whether this moss would then be made to "blossom as the rose!" How I felt for a while that sense of dignity in