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village, indeed, might be called the loved of the streams, since on each of its sides there was one to lave it, and murmur in its ear sweet inarticulate names of tenderness and of praise. With more distant and dignified regards the bold, dark mountains looked down upon it over their woods.
Above the cleft and the cataract, and a sea of woodland between, towered up an insulated crag, commanding a prospect in which luxuriance and naked loftiness, beauty and the barren pomp of solitude, were exquisitely combined. As seen from this eminence, the valley, with all its streams, lay northward, with the village on its southern edge. To the south were two enormous mountains, each 3,000 feet in height, but both as lumpish as they were lofty, and separated from the central crag by a wide green glen, down which you saw the river stealing slowly, to the "great agony" of the waterfall. Immediately below, from a two-sided valley of woods, came up the eternal cry of the cataract, mitigated in the summer solstice; but in winter, when the channel was full of water, loud and outrageous as the voice of a demon newly plunged into Tartarus. To the north-west were steep, grim, conical hills, with the air of haughty dethroned princes; and, indeed, the "crown had fallen from their heads," the crown of volcanic fire which they had worn in the days of other years. Straight west, a long valley went up through an avenue of stately hills, to greet a lake, lying in placid loveliness at the end.
Beautiful at all times was this scene to me-after, at least, I had learnt to interpret its language, and to feel what it hinted to the inward eye of the soul; but most so in two of its aspects. One was, when the wing of the thunder-cloud came down upon it, and when, as you stood on the summit, a large lowering mountain, closely adjacent, seemed all of a smoke―ran, like another Sinai, with rills of fire, cutting and carolling around its dark sides, and rang as with the noise of a hundred chariots, careering along precipices "where mortal
horsemen ne'er might ride." I saw it thus only once; but my companion and I, instead of trembling, felt the glow and thrill of that terrible sublimity which is the mere shadow of the passing God. It was finer still to come up to this eminence on an autumn twilight, while the moon, amidst thin fleecy clouds, at one time hid her beams, and left the hues of evening to die away unaided into night, through which the cataract seemed to lift up suddenly a louder and loosened voice, as if, like a wild beast, it loved to cry amidst the darkness, and again gleamed forth with a startling gush of light, in which the mountain-tops, the valleys, and especially the cones of the blue-green pine-trees, shone out with a distinctness, a nearness, and a depth of tone, which were in their effect almost unearthly. It was fine, too, to send the imagination away under the night canopy, and to find comparisons and similitudes for the genius of favourite poets in the sights and sounds around us ;-the cataract, with its muffled roar and sullen plaint, being an emblem of Byron; the fat, fair valley, winding along its winding stream, representing Thomson of the Seasons; the proud peak of Ben Ample looking on over the rest, while overtopping them all, reminding us of Milton; the two large lumpish mountains to the south-east suggesting the breadth, height, and heaviness of Wordsworth and Southey; that semi-Sinai, along which I had seen the lightning running like the streams which succeed a waterspout, but over which there now lay a scarf of bright mist, figuring Coleridge or Shelley; and the whole, in its combination of the soft and strong, the passionate and the calm, the dazzling and the dim, the profound and the lofty, composing a mighty image, carved on mountains, and coloured by moonlight, of Shakspere himself!
These were after-thoughts and imaginations. Long ere I could at all appreciate the beauty, or feel the power of scenery, other influences had begun to develop my mental powers. One of the principal of these was frequent intercourse with my father. It so happened that my five elder
brothers had all left our home, long before I was born,-one to be a soldier (very much to the grief of both his parents); another to the sea; a third to the ministry of the Scottish Church in a remote province; a fourth to America, as a daring explorer of the Western woods; and a fifth to be a clerk in a Manchester warehouse. There were, besides, several sisters, but they were much engaged in domestic matters; and two of them, shortly after my birth, were removed-one by marriage, and the other by death. My mother was greatly occupied in her own sphere. It became thus inevitable that I should be left a good deal alone in the house, and should resort much to my father's company, who was, besides, very partial to me. Never shall I forget that sweetest intercourse! He was a man eminent for his piety, natural eloquence, and general information. He had been, however, rather hurriedly and imperfectly educated; and his scholarship was not so remarkable as his other qualities. Hence he could not ground me well in the Latin or Greek tongues, or the sciences; and I feel this to the present hour. But he taught me what was of still more importance. He instructed me in the general facts of history; he recounted anecdotes of the great and good of other days; he pointed out to me the prominent features of the landscape, and taught me to admire them; he directed my readings, and he sought to impress on me the fear and the love of God. The most delightful hours I spent with him were when he took me to accompany his walks. His manse-a thing not usual in country parish manses-lay a little distance from his garden, along the river-bank. Between that garden and house was his favourite walk; and as I accompanied him there, I derived more pleasure, and more solid information too, in an hour or two, than from days of my ordinary teachers, or of my solitary studies. Now he asked questions which at once drew out, and riveted in my mind, the knowledge I already had. Now he encouraged me to ask questions of him; now he stooped over a flower, and told me something about its con
struction, or repeated the famous story of Beattie and the cresses. Now his eye caught a cloud, and straightway his fine, simple fancy-a fancy resembling, in some points, that of Addison-was stirred, and his soaring was as beautiful as it was brief: he rose on doves', if not on eagles', wings. Now he expatiated on some author of genius, such as Milton, Johnson, or Cowper; and his criticisms, if not subtle and refined, were glowing and generous and now he told me anecdotes of his early struggles and College career, of which I remember little but a general impression of their interest, and the genial humour in which some of them were enshrined. Besides being often with him in his walks, I was often with him in his study. The window of that room looked out upon the fields and hills, "having a look southward, and being open to the whole noon of Nature;" and near that window my father's desk was sure to be placed. His books were collected in a little recess, in a corner of the room ; and there I was generally found seated on a stool, and poring over a book to the tune of my father's pen diligently racing over the page, and sometimes of his voice, asking me to consult a volume, or supply a date. The books were-for the time, and the wilds of Morayshire-counted a capital collection. They amounted to six or seven hundred volumes, and were arranged on their shelves according to a definite principle. At the bottom, and forming the base of the library, were the large old folios-Charnock, Flavel, Matthew Henry, and Poole's Synopsis; the four enormous tomes of which last were adorned with rough cuts of the Ark, Solomon's Temple, the Tabernacle, and other Scriptural edifices, quaint enough in execution and design, but, to a young eye, exceedingly attractive. On the next shelf appeared the quartos, some of them in the old wooden bindings, and with clasps of brass, including such books as Turretin's Opera Omnia, Calvin's Institutes, Anderson's Defence of Presbyterian Government, and Gale's Court of the Gentiles. Higher up were the octavos, dim and dusky, many of them
in their binding, such as Owen's Meditations on the Glory of Christ, Edwards on the Freedom of the Will, and long rows of the Edinburgh Christian Instructor and the Christian Observer. In the next shelf were the duodecimos,— the Spectator, the Rambler, Milton's Paradise Lost, and Thomson's Seasons. And highest of all were the "small infantry;" consisting of Butler's Hudibras, the lesser Classics (such as Flovus and Terence), two thick little copies of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and many more of the same infra size. On the floor, and on some separate little shelves, were innumerable pamphlets, tracts, and odd numbers of old magazines.
What joys I had in that little library! It was specially luxurious, when rain kept me from my delightful solitary wanderings and reveries, to take refuge there for a long summer's day. Never did time pass more swiftly. Now I devoured a pamphlet at a gulp; now I lingered more fondly over a favourite poem, or an essay in Addison's Guardian ; now I dipped into a controversial treatise; and now I dared to attack one of the "huge armfuls" of Theology, and forgot the whole world, while spelling out, with a little difficulty indeed, passages in Calvin's or Turretin's Latin, or glancing more eagerly at some of the massive pages of Donne's Sermons, Fox's Book of Martyrs, or Dupin's Ecclesiastical History. With all the appetite of youth, I yet heard the summons to dinner with a sigh ; and after, like Dominie Samson, bolting my beef and broth, rushed back to my delightful readings again. Nor was it less pleasing to drop asleep for an hour over an author, and to be transported, in the visions of imaginative youth, to larger libraries, and to still fairer scenes than those around me, and when I awoke to "cry to dream again;" till, looking up, I saw that the rain was over and gone, and, walking forth, beheld the farewell evening gleam of the sun, diffused, like magic upon sorcery, over the features of that matchless landscape; and found that converse with the soul of books had but qualified