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The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving

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Catskill mountains, and took a mischievous pleasure in wreaking
all kind of evils and vexations upon the red men. Sometimes he
would assume the form of a bear, a panther, or a deer, lead the
bewildered hunter a weary chase through tangled forests and among
ragged rocks, and then spring off with a loud ho! ho! leaving him
aghast on the brink of a beetling precipice or raging torrent.

The favorite abode of this Manitou is still shown. It is a rock
or cliff on the loneliest port of the mountains, and, from the
flowering vines which clamber about it, and the wild flowers
which abound in its neighborhood, is known by the name of the
Garden Rock. Near the foot of it is a small lake, the haunt of
the solitary bittern, with water-snakes basking in the sun on the
leaves of the pond-lilies which lie on the surface. This place
was held in great awe by the Indians, insomuch that the boldest
hunter would not pursue his game within its precincts. Once upon
a time, however, a hunter who had lost his way penetrated to the
Garden Rock, where he beheld a number of gourds placed in the
crotches of trees. One of these he seized and made off with it,
but in the hurry of his retreat he let it fall among the rocks,
when a great stream gushed forth, which washed him away and swept
him down precipices, where he was dished to pieces, and the
stream made its way to the Hudson, and continues to flow to the
present day, being the identical stream known by the name of the


Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation, rousting
herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible
locks; methinks I see her as an eagle, mewing her mighty youth,
and kindling her endazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam.--MILTON

IT is with feelings of deep regret that I observe the literary
animosity daily growing up between England and America. Great
curiosity has been awakened of late with respect to the United
States, and the London press has teemed with volumes of travels
through the Republic; but they seem intended to diffuse error
rather than knowledge; and so successful have they been, that,
notwithstanding the constant intercourse between the nations,
there is no people concerning whom the great mass of the British
public have less pure information, or entertain more numerous

English travellers are the best and the worst in the world. Where
no motives of pride or interest intervene, none can equal them
for profound and philosophical views of society, or faithful and
graphical description of external objects; but when either the
interest or reputation of their own country comes in collision
with that of another, they go to the opposite extreme, and forget
their usual probity and candor, in the indulgence of splenetic
remark, and an illiberal spirit of ridicule.

Hence, their travels are more honest and accurate, the more
remote the country described. I would place implicit confidence
in an Englishman's description of the regions beyond the
cataracts of the Nile; of unknown islands in the Yellow Sea; of
the interior of India; or of any other tract which other
travellers might be apt to picture out with the illusions of
their fancies. But I would cautiously receive his account of his
immediate neighbors, and of those nations with which he is in
habits of most frequent intercourse. However I might be disposed
to trust his probity, I dare not trust his prejudices.

It has also been the peculiar lot of our country to be visited by
the worst kind of English travellers. While men of philosophical
spirit and cultivated minds have been sent from England to
ransack the poles, to penetrate the deserts, and to study the
manners and customs of barbarous nations, with which she can have
no permanent intercourse of profit or pleasure; it has been left
to the broken-down tradesman, the scheming adventurer, the
wandering mechanic, the Manchester and Birmingham agent, to be
her oracles respecting America. From such sources she is content
to receive her information respecting a country in a singular
state of moral and physical development; a country in which one
of the greatest political experiments in the history of the world
is now performing; and which presents the most profound and
momentous studies to the statesman and the philosopher.

That such men should give prejudicial accounts of America, is not
a matter of surprise. The themes it offers for contemplation, are
too vast and elevated for their capacities. The national
character is yet in a state of fermentation: it may have its
frothiness and sediment, but its ingredients are sound and
wholesome; it has already given proofs of powerful and generous
qualities; and the whole promises to settle down into something
substantially excellent. But the causes which are operating to
strengthen and ennoble it, and its daily indications of admirable
properties, are all lost upon these purblind observers; who are
only affected by the little asperities incident to its present
situation. They are capable of judging only of the surface of
things; of those matters which come in contact with their private
interests and personal gratifications. They miss some of the snug
conveniences and petty comforts which belong to an old,
highly-finished, and over-populous state of society; where the
ranks of useful labor are crowded, and many earn a painful and
servile subsistence, by studying the very caprices of appetite
and self-indulgence. These minor comforts, however, are
all-important in the estimation of narrow minds; which either do
not perceive, or will not acknowledge, that they are more than
counterbalanced among us, by great and generally diffused

They may, perhaps, have been disappointed in some unreasonable
expectation of sudden gain. They may have pictured America to
themselves an El Dorado, where gold and silver abounded, and the
natives were lacking in sagacity, and where they were to become
strangely and suddenly rich, in some unforeseen but easy manner.
The same weakness of mind that indulges absurd expectations,
produces petulance in disappointment. Such persons become
embittered against the country on finding that there, as
everywhere else, a man must sow before he can reap; must win
wealth by industry and talent; and must contend with the common
difficulties of nature, and the shrewdness of an intelligent and
enterprising people.

Perhaps, through mistaken or ill-directed hospitality, or from
the prompt disposition to cheer and countenance the stranger,
prevalent among my countrymen, they may have been treated with
unwonted respect in America; and, having been accustomed all
their lives to consider themselves below the surface of good
society, and brought up in a servile feeling of inferiority, they
become arrogant, on the common boon of civility; they attribute
to the lowliness of others their own elevation; and underrate a
society where there are no artificial distinctions, and where, by
any chance, such individuals as themselves can rise to

One would suppose, however, that information coming from such
sources, on a subject where the truth is so desirable, would be
received with caution by the censors of the press; that the
motives of these men, their veracity, their opportunities of
inquiry and observation, and their capacities for judging
correctly, would be rigorously scrutinized, before their evidence
was admitted, in such sweeping extent, against a kindred nation.
The very reverse, however, is the case, and it furnishes a
striking instance of human inconsistency. Nothing can surpass the
vigilance with which English critics will examine the credibility
of the traveller who publishes an account of some distant and
comparatively unimportant country. How warily will they compare
the measurements of a pyramid, or the description of a ruin; and
how sternly will they censure any inaccuracy in these
contributions of merely curious knowledge, while they will
receive, with eagerness and unhesitating faith, the gross
misrepresentations of coarse and obscure writers, concerning a
country with which their own is placed in the most important and
delicate relations. Nay, they will even make these apocryphal
volumes text-books, on which to enlarge, with a zeal and an
ability worthy of a more generous cause.

I shall not, however, dwell on this irksome and hackneyed topic;
nor should I have adverted to it, but for the undue interest
apparently taken in it by my countrymen, and certain injurious
effects which I apprehend it might produce upon the national
feeling. We attach too much consequence to these attacks. They
cannot do us any essential injury. The tissue of
misrepresentations attempted to be woven round us, are like
cobwebs woven round the limbs of an infant giant. Our country
continually outgrows them. One falsehood after another falls off
of itself. We have but to live on, and every day we live a whole
volume of refutation.

All the writers of England united, if we could for a moment
suppose their great minds stooping to so unworthy a combination,
could not conceal our rapidly growing importance and matchless
prosperity. They could not conceal that these are owing, not
merely to physical and local, but also to moral causes--to the
political liberty, the general diffusion of knowledge, the
prevalence of sound, moral, and religious principles, which give
force and sustained energy to the character of a people, and
which in fact, have been the acknowledged and wonderful
supporters of their own national power and glory.

But why are we so exquisitely alive to the aspersions of England?
Why do we suffer ourselves to be so affected by the contumely she
has endeavored to cast upon us? It is not in the opinion of
England alone that honor lives, and reputation has its being. The
world at large is the arbiter of a nation's fame: with its
thousand eyes it witnesses a nation's deeds, and from their
collective testimony is national glory or national disgrace

For ourselves, therefore, it is comparatively of but little
importance whether England does us justice or not; it is,
perhaps, of far more importance to herself. She is instilling
anger and resentment into the bosom of a youthful nation, to grow
with its growth, and strengthen with its strength. If in America,
as some of her writers are laboring to convince her, she is
hereafter to find an invidious rival, and a gigantic foe, she may
thank those very writers for having provoked rivalship, and
irritated hostility. Every one knows the all-pervading influence
of literature at the present day, and how much the opinions and
passions of mankind are under its control. The mere contests of
the sword are temporary; their wounds are but in the flesh, and
it is the pride of the generous to forgive and forget them; but
the slanders of the pen pierce to the heart; they rankle longest
in the noblest spirits; they dwell ever present in the mind, and
render it morbidly sensitive to the most trifling collision. It
is but seldom that any one overt act produces hostilities between
two nations; there exists, most commonly, a previous jealousy and
ill-will, a predisposition to take offence. Trace these to their
cause, and how often will they be found to originate in the
mischievous effusions of mercenary writers, who, secure in their
closets, and for ignominious bread, concoct and circulate the
venom that is to inflame the generous and the brave.

I am not laying too much stress upon this point; for it applies
most emphatically to our particular case. Over no nation does the
press hold a more absolute control than over the people of
America; for the universal education of the poorest classes makes
every individual a reader. There is nothing published in England
on the subject of our country, that does not circulate through
every part of it. There is not a calumny dropt from an English
pen, nor an unworthy sarcasm uttered by an English statesman,
that does not go to blight good-will, and add to the mass of
latent resentment. Possessing, then, as England does, the
fountain-head whence the literature of the language flows, how
completely is it in her power, and how truly is it her duty, to
make it the medium of amiable and magnanimous feeling--a stream
where the two nations might meet together and drink in peace and
kindness. Should she, however, persist in turning it to waters of
bitterness, the time may come when she may repent her folly. The
present friendship of America may be of but little moment to her;
but the future destinies of that country do not admit of a doubt;
over those of England, there lower some shadows of uncertainty.
Should, then, a day of gloom arrive--should those reverses
overtake her, from which the proudest empires have not been
exempt--she may look back with regret at her infatuation, in
repulsing from her side a nation she might have grappled to her
bosom, and thus destroying her only chance for real friendship
beyond the boundaries of her own dominions.

There is a general impression in England, that the people of the
United States are inimical to the parent country. It is one of
the errors which have been diligently propagated by designing
writers. There is, doubtless, considerable political hostility,
and a general soreness at the illiberality of the English press;
but, collectively speaking, the prepossessions of the people are
strongly in favor of England. Indeed, at one time they amounted,
in many parts of the Union, to an absurd degree of bigotry. The
bare name of Englishman was a passport to the confidence and
hospitality of every family, and too often gave a transient
currency to the worthless and the ungrateful. Throughout the
country, there was something of enthusiasm connected with the
idea of England. We looked to it with a hallowed feeling of
tenderness and veneration, as the land of our forefathers--the
august repository of the monuments and antiquities of our
race--the birthplace and mausoleum of the sages and heroes of our
paternal history. After our own country, there was none in whose
glory we more delighted--none whose good opinion we were more
anxious to possess--none toward which our hearts yearned with
such throbbings of warm consanguinity. Even during the late war,
whenever there was the least opportunity for kind feelings to
spring forth, it was the delight of the generous spirits of our
country to show that, in the midst of hostilities, they still
kept alive the sparks of future friendship.

Is all this to be at an end? Is this golden band of kindred
sympathies, so rare between nations, to be broken
forever?--Perhaps it is for the best--it may dispel an allusion
which might have kept us in mental vassalage; which might have
interfered occasionally with our true interests, and prevented
the growth of proper national pride. But it is hard to give up
the kindred tie! and there are feelings dearer than
interest--closer to the heart than pride--that will still make us
cast back a look of regret as we wander farther and farther from
the paternal roof, and lament the waywardness of the parent that
would repel the affections of the child.

Short-sighted and injudicious, however, as the conduct or England
may be in this system of aspersion, recrimination on our part
would be equally ill-judged. I speak not of a prompt and spirited
vindication of our country, or the keenest castigation of her
slanderers--but I allude to a disposition to retaliate in kind,
to retort sarcasm and inspire prejudice, which seems to be
spreading widely among our writers. Let us guard particularly
against such a temper; for it would double the evil, instead of
redressing the wrong. Nothing is so easy and inviting as the
retort of abuse and sarcasm; but it is a paltry and an
unprofitable contest. It is the alternative of a morbid mind,
fretted into petulance, rather than warmed into indignation. If
England is willing to permit the mean jealousies of trade, or the
rancorous animosities of politics, to deprave the integrity of
her press, and poison the fountain of public opinion, let us
beware of her example. She may deem it her interest to diffuse
error, and engender antipathy, for the purpose of checking
emigration: we have no purpose of the kind to serve. Neither have
we any spirit of national jealousy to gratify; for as yet, in all
our rivalships with England, we are the rising and the gaining
party. There can be no end to answer, therefore, but the
gratification of resentment--a mere spirit of retaliation--and
even that is impotent. Our retorts are never republished in
England; they fall short, therefore, of their aim; but they
foster a querulous and peevish temper among our writers; they
sour the sweet flow of our early literature, and sow thorns and
brambles among its blossoms. What is still worse, they circulate
through our own country, and, as far as they have effect, excite
virulent national prejudices. This last is the evil most
especially to be deprecated. Governed, as we are, entirely by
public opinion, the utmost care should be taken to preserve the
purity of the public mind. Knowledge is power, and truth is
knowledge; whoever, therefore, knowingly propagates a prejudice,
wilfully saps the foundation of his country's strength.

The members of a republic, above all other men, should be candid
and dispassionate. They are, individually, portions of the
sovereign mind and sovereign will, and should be enabled to come
to all questions of national concern with calm and unbiassed
judgments. From the peculiar nature of our relations with
England, we must have more frequent questions of a difficult and
delicate character with her, than with any other
nation,--questions that affect the most acute and excitable
feelings: and as, in the adjustment of these, our national
measures must ultimately be determined by popular sentiment, we
cannot be too anxiously attentive to purify it from all latent
passion or prepossession.

Opening, too, as we do, an asylum for strangers every portion of
the earth, we should receive all with impartiality. It should be
our pride to exhibit an example of one nation, at least,
destitute of national antipathies, and exercising, not merely the
overt acts of hospitality, but those more rare and noble
courtesies which spring from liberality of opinion.

What have we to do with national prejudices? They are the
inveterate diseases of old countries, contracted in rude and
ignorant ages, when nations knew but little of each other, and
looked beyond their own boundaries with distrust and hostility.
We, on the contrary, have sprung into national existence in an
enlightened and philosophic age, when the different parts of the
habitable world, and the various branches of the human family,
have been indefatigably studied and made known to each other; and
we forego the advantages of our birth, if we do not shake off the
national prejudices, as we would the local superstitions, of the
old world.

But above all let us not be influenced by any angry feelings, so
far as to shut our eyes to the perception of what is really
excellent and amiable in the English character. We are a young
people, necessarily an imitative one, and must take our examples
and models, in a great degree, from the existing nations of
Europe. There is no country more worthy of our study than
England. The spirit of her constitution is most analogous to
ours. The manners of her people--their intellectual
activity--their freedom of opinion--their habits of thinking on
those subjects which concern the dearest interests and most
sacred charities of private life, are all congenial to the
American character; and, in fact, are all intrinsically
excellent: for it is in the moral feeling of the people that the
deep foundations of British prosperity are laid; and however the
superstructure may be timeworn, or overrun by abuses, there must
be something solid in the basis, admirable in the materials, and
stable in the structure of an edifice that so long has towered
unshaken amidst the tempests of the world.

Let it be the pride of our writers, therefore, discarding all
feelings of irritation, and disdaining to retaliate the
illiberality of British authors, to speak of the English nation
without prejudice, and with determined candor. While they rebuke
the indiscriminating bigotry with which some of our countrymen
admire and imitate every thing English, merely because it is
English, let them frankly point out what is really worthy of
approbation. We may thus place England before us as a perpetual
volume of reference, wherein are recorded sound deductions from
ages of experience; and while we avoid the errors and absurdities
which may have crept into the page, we may draw thence golden
maxims of practical wisdom, wherewith to strengthen and to
embellish our national character.


Oh! friendly to the best pursuits of man,
Friendly to thought, to virtue and to peace,
Domestic life in rural pleasures past!

THE stranger who would form a correct opinion of the English
character, must not confine his observations to the metropolis.
He must go forth into the country; he must sojourn in villages
and hamlets; he must visit castles, villas, farm-houses,
cottages; he must wander through parks and gardens; along hedges
and green lanes; he must loiter about country churches; attend
wakes and fairs, and other rural festivals; and cope with the
people in all their conditions, and all their habits and humors.

In some countries, the large cities absorb the wealth and fashion
of the nation; they are the only fixed abodes of elegant and
intelligent society, and the country is inhabited almost entirely
by boorish peasantry. In England, on the contrary, the metropolis
is a mere gathering-place, or general rendezvous, of the polite
classes, where they devote a small portion of the year to a hurry
of gayety and dissipation, and, having indulged this kind of
carnival, return again to the apparently more congenial habits of
rural life. The various orders of society are therefore diffused
over the whole surface of the kingdom, and the more retired
neighborhoods afford specimens of the different ranks.

The English, in fact, are strongly gifted with the rural feeling.
They possess a quick sensibility to the beauties of nature, and a
keen relish for the pleasures and employments of the country.
This passion seems inherent in them. Even the inhabitants of
cities, born and brought up among brick walls and bustling
streets, enter with facility into rural habits, and evince a tact
for rural occupation. The merchant has his snug retreat in the
vicinity of the metropolis, where he often displays as much pride
and zeal in the cultivation of his flower-garden, and the
maturing of his fruits, as he does in the conduct of his
business, and the success of a commercial enterprise. Even those
less fortunate individuals, who are doomed to pass their lives in
the midst of din and traffic, contrive to have something that
shall remind them of the green aspect of nature. In the most dark
and dingy quarters of the city, the drawing-room window resembles
frequently a bank of flowers; every spot capable of vegetation
has its grass-plot and flower-bed; and every square its mimic
park, laid out with picturesque taste, and gleaming with
refreshing verdure.

Those who see the Englishman only in town, are apt to form an
unfavorable opinion of his social character. He is either
absorbed in business, or distracted by the thousand engagements
that dissipate time, thought, and feeling, in this huge
metropolis. He has, therefore, too commonly, a look of hurry and
abstraction. Wherever he happens to be, he is on the point of
going somewhere else; at the moment he is talking on one subject,
his mind is wandering to another; and while paying a friendly
visit, he is calculating how he shall economize time so as to pay
the other visits allotted to the morning. An immense metropolis,
like London, is calculated to make men selfish and uninteresting.
In their casual and transient meetings, they can but deal briefly
in commonplaces. They present but the cold superfices of
character--its rich and genial qualities have no time to be
warmed into a flow.

It is in the country that the Englishman gives scope to his
natural feelings. He breaks loose gladly from the cold
formalities and negative civilities of town; throws off his
habits of shy reserve, and becomes joyous and free-hearted. He
manages to collect round him all the conveniences and elegancies
of polite life, and to banish its restraints. His country-seat
abounds with every requisite, either for studious retirement,
tasteful gratification, or rural exercise. Books, paintings,
music, horses, dogs, and sporting implements of all kinds, are at
hand. He puts no constraint, either upon his guests or himself,
but, in the true spirit of hospitality, provides the means of
enjoyment, and leaves every one to partake according to his

The taste of the English in the cultivation of land, and in what
is called landscape gardening, is unrivalled. They have studied
Nature intently, and discovered an exquisite sense of her
beautiful forms and harmonious combinations. Those charms which,
in other countries, she lavishes in wild solitudes, are here
assembled round the haunts of domestic life. They seem to have
caught her coy and furtive graces, and spread them, like
witchery, about their rural abodes.

Nothing can be more imposing than the magnificence of English
park scenery. Vast lawns that extend like sheets of vivid green,
with here and there clumps of gigantic trees, heaping up rich
piles of foliage. The solemn pomp of groves and woodland glades,
with the deer trooping in silent herds across them; the hare,
bounding away to the covert; or the pheasant, suddenly bursting
upon the wing. The brook, taught to wind in natural meanderings,
or expand into a glassy lake--the sequestered pool, reflecting
the quivering trees, with the yellow leaf sleeping on its bosom,
and the trout roaming fearlessly about its limpid waters; while
some rustic temple, or sylvan statue, grown green and dank with
age, gives an air of classic sanctity to the seclusion.

These are but a few of the features of park scenery; but what
most delights me, is the creative talent with which the English
decorate the unostentatious abodes of middle life. The rudest
habitation, the most unpromising and scanty portion of land, in
the hands of an Englishman of taste, becomes a little paradise.
With a nicely discriminating eye, he seizes at once upon its
capabilities, and pictures in his mind the future landscape. The
sterile spot grows into loveliness under his hand; and yet the
operations of art which produce the effect are scarcely to be
perceived. The cherishing and training of some trees; the
cautious pruning of others; the nice distribution of flowers and
plants of tender and graceful foliage; the introduction of a
green slope of velvet turf; the partial opening to a peep of blue
distance, or silver gleam of water;-all these are managed with a
delicate tact, a pervading yet quiet assiduity, like the magic
touchings with which a painter finishes up a favorite picture.

The residence of people of fortune and refinement in the country,
has diffused a degree of taste and elegance in rural economy that
descends to the lowest class. The very laborer, with his thatched
cottage and narrow slip of ground, attends to their
embellishment. The trim hedge, the grass-plot before the door,
the little flower-bed bordered with snug box, the woodbine
trained up against the wall, and hanging its blossoms about the
lattice; the pot of flowers in the window; the holly, providently
planted about the house, to cheat winter of its dreariness, and
to throw in a semblance of green summer to cheer the fireside;
all these bespeak the influence of taste, flowing down from high
sources, and pervading the lowest levels of the public mind. If
ever Love, as poets sing, delights to visit a cottage, it must be
the cottage of an English peasant.

The fondness for rural life among the higher classes of the
English has had a great and salutary effect upon the national
character. I do not know a finer race of men than the English
gentlemen. Instead of the softness and effeminacy which
characterize the men of rank in most countries, they exhibit a
union of elegance and strength, a robustness of frame and
freshness of complexion, which I am inclined to attribute to
their living so much in the open air, and pursuing so eagerly the
invigorating recreations of the country. The hardy exercises
produce also a healthful tone of mind and spirits, and a
manliness and simplicity of manners, which even the follies and
dissipations of the town cannot easily pervert, and can never
entirely destroy. In the country, too, the different orders of
society seem to approach more freely, to be more disposed to
blend and operate favorably upon each other. The distinctions
between them do not appear to be so marked and impassable as in
the cities. The manner in which property has been distributed
into small estates and farms has established a regular gradation
from the noblemen, through the classes of gentry, small landed
proprietors, and substantial farmers, down to the laboring
peasantry; and while it has thus banded the extremes of society
together, has infused into each intermediate rank a spirit of
independence. This, it must be confessed, is not so universally
the case at present as it was formerly; the larger estates
having, in late years of distress, absorbed the smaller, and, in
some parts of the country, almost annihilated the sturdy race of
small farmers. These, however, I believe, are but casual breaks
in the general system I have mentioned.

In rural occupation, there is nothing mean and debasing. It leads
a, man forth among scenes of natural grandeur and beauty; it
leaves him to the workings of his own mind, operated upon by the
purest and most elevating of external influences. Such a man may
be simple and rough, but he cannot be vulgar. The man of
refinement, therefore, finds nothing revolting in an intercourse
with the lower orders in rural life, as he does when he casually
mingles with the lower orders of cities. He lays aside his
distance and reserve, and is glad to waive the distinctions of
rank, and to enter into the honest, heartfelt enjoyments of
common life. Indeed, the very amusements of the country bring,
men more and more together; and the sound hound and horn blend
all feelings into harmony. I believe this is one great reason why
the nobility and gentry are more popular among the inferior
orders in England than they are in any other country; and why the
latter have endured so many excessive pressures and extremities,
without repining more generally at the unequal distribution of
fortune and privilege.

To this mingling of cultivated and rustic society may also be
attributed the rural feeling that runs through British
literature; the frequent use of illustrations from rural life;
those incomparable descriptions of Nature, that abound in the
British poets--that have continued down from "The Flower and the
Leaf," of Chaucer, and have brought into our closets all the
freshness and fragrance of the dewy landscape. The pastoral
writers of other countries appear as if they had paid Nature an
occasional visit, and become acquainted with her general charms;
but the British poets have lived and revelled with her--they have
wooed her in her most secret haunts--they have watched her
minutest caprices. A spray could not tremble in the breeze--a
leaf could not rustle to the ground--a diamond drop could not
patter in the stream--a fragrance could not exhale from the
humble violet, nor a daisy unfold its crimson tints to the
morning, but it has been noticed by these impassioned and
delicate observers, and wrought up into some beautiful morality.

The effect of this devotion of elegant minds to rural occupations
has been wonderful on the face of the country. A great part of
the island is rather level, and would be monotonous, were it not
for the charms of culture; but it is studded and gemmed, as it
were, with castles and palaces, and embroidered with parks and
gardens. It does not abound in grand and sublime prospects, but
rather in little home scenes of rural repose and sheltered quiet.
Every antique farm-house and moss-grown cottage is a picture; and
as the roads are continually winding, and the view is shut in by
groves and hedges, the eye is delighted by a continual succession
of small landscapes of captivating loveliness.

The great charm, however, of English scenery, is the moral
feeling that seems to pervade it. It is associated in the mind
with ideas of order, of quiet, of sober well-established
principles, of hoary usage and reverend custom. Every thing seems
to be the growth of ages of regular and peaceful existence. The
old church of remote architecture, with its low, massive portal;
its Gothic tower; its windows rich with tracery and painted
glass, in scrupulous preservation; its stately monuments of
warriors and worthies of the olden time, ancestors of the present
lords of the soil; its tombstones, recording successive
generations of sturdy yeomanry, whose progeny still plough the
same fields, and kneel at the same altar;--the parsonage, a
quaint irregular pile, partly antiquated, but repaired and
altered in the tastes of various ages and occupants;--the stile
and foot-path leading from the churchyard, across pleasant
fields, and along shady hedgerows, according to an immemorial
right of way;--the neighboring village, with its venerable
cottages, its public green sheltered by trees, under which the
forefathers of the present race have sported;--the antique family
mansion, standing apart in some little rural domain, but looking
down with a protecting air on the surrounding scene; all these
common features of English landscape evince a calm and settled
security, a hereditary transmission of homebred virtues and local
attachments, that speak deeply and touchingly for the moral
character of the nation.

It is a pleasing sight, of a Sunday morning, when the bell is
sending its sober melody across the quiet fields, to behold the
peasantry in their best finery, with ruddy faces, and modest
cheerfulness, thronging tranquilly along the green lanes to
church; but it is still more pleasing to see them in the
evenings, gathering about their cottage doors, and appearing to
exult in the humble comforts and embellishments which their own
hands have spread around them.

It is this sweet home-feeling, this settled repose of affection
in the domestic scene, that is, after all, the parent of the
steadiest virtues and purest enjoyments; and I cannot close these
desultory remarks better, than by quoting the words of a modern
English poet, who has depicted it with remarkable felicity:

Through each gradation, from the castled hall,
The city dome, the villa crowned with shade,
But chief from modest mansions numberless,
In town or hamlet, shelt'ring middle life,
Down to the cottaged vale, and straw-roof'd shed;
This western isle has long been famed for scenes
Where bliss domestic finds a dwelling-place;
Domestic bliss, that, like a harmless dove,
(Honor and sweet endearment keeping guard,)
Can centre in a little quiet nest
All that desire would fly for through the earth;
That can, the world eluding, be itself
A world enjoyed; that wants no witnesses
But its own sharers, and approving Heaven;
That, like a flower deep hid in rock cleft,
Smiles, though 't is looking only at the sky.*

* From a poem on the death of the Princess Charlotte, by the
Reverend Rann Kennedy, A.M.


I never heard
Of any true affection, but 't was nipt
With care, that, like the caterpillar, eats
The leaves of the spring's sweetest book, the rose.

IT is a common practice with those who have outlived the
susceptibility of early feeling, or have been brought up in the
gay heartlessness of dissipated life, to laugh at all love
stories, and to treat the tales of romantic passion as mere
fictions of novelists and poets. My observations on human nature
have induced me to think otherwise. They have convinced me that,
however the surface of the character may be chilled and frozen by
the cares of the world, or cultivated into mere smiles by the
arts of society, still there are dormant fires lurking in the
depths of the coldest bosom, which, when once enkindled, become
impetuous, and are sometimes desolating in their effects. Indeed,
I am a true believer in the blind deity, and go to the full
extent of his doctrines. Shall I confess it?--I believe in broken
hearts, and the possibility of dying of disappointed love! I do
not, however, consider it a malady often fatal to my own sex; but
I firmly believe that it withers down many a lovely woman into an
early grave.

Man is the creature of interest and ambition. His nature leads
him forth into the struggle and bustle of the world. Love is but
the embellishment of his early life, or a song piped in the
intervals of the acts. He seeks for fame, for fortune for space
in the world's thought, and dominion over his fellow-men. But a
woman's whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is
her world; it is there her ambition strives for empire--it is
there her avarice seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth her
sympathies on adventure; she embarks her whole soul in the
traffic of affection; and if shipwrecked, her case is
hopeless--for it is a bankruptcy of the heart.

To a man, the disappointment of love may occasion some bitter
pangs; it wounds some feelings of tenderness--it blasts some
prospects of felicity; but he is an active being--he may
dissipate his thoughts in the whirl of varied occupation, or may
plunge into the tide of pleasure; or, if the scene of
disappointment be too full of painful associations, he can shift
his abode at will, and taking, as it were, the wings of the
morning, can "fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, and be at

But woman's is comparatively a fixed, a secluded, and meditative
life. She is more the companion of her own thoughts and feelings;
and if they are turned to ministers of sorrow, where shall she
look for consolation? Her lot is to be wooed and won; and if
unhappy in her love, her heart is like some fortress that has
been captured, and sacked, and abandoned, and left desolate.

How many bright eyes grow dim--how many soft cheeks grow
pale--how many lovely forms fade away into the tomb, and none can
tell the cause that blighted their loveliness! As the dove will
clasp its wings to its side, and cover and conceal the arrow that
is preying on its vitals--so is it the nature of woman, to hide
from the world the pangs of wounded affection. The love of a
delicate female is always shy and silent. Even when fortunate,
she scarcely breathes it to herself; but when otherwise, she
buries it in the recesses of her bosom, and there lets it cower
and brood among the ruins of her peace. With her, the desire of
her heart has failed--the great charm of existence is at an end.
She neglects all the cheerful exercises which gladden the
spirits, quicken the pulses, and send the tide of life in
healthful currents through the veins. Her rest is broken--the
sweet refreshment of sleep is poisoned by melancholy dreams--"dry
sorrow drinks her blood," until her enfeebled frame sinks under
the slightest external injury. Look for her, after a little
while, and you find friendship weeping over her untimely grave,
and wondering that one, who but lately glowed with all the
radiance of health and beauty, should so speedily be brought down
to "darkness and the worm." You will be told of some wintry
chill, some casual indisposition, that laid her low;--but no one
knows of the mental malady which previously sapped her strength,
and made her so easy a prey to the spoiler.

She is like some tender tree, the pride and beauty of the grove;
graceful in its form, bright in its foliage, but with the worm
preying at its heart. We find it suddenly withering, when it
should be most fresh and luxuriant. We see it drooping its
branches to the earth, and shedding leaf by leaf, until, wasted
and perished away, it falls even in the stillness of the forest;
and as we muse over the beautiful ruin, we strive in vain to
recollect the blast or thunderbolt that could have smitten it
with decay.

I have seen many instances of women running to waste and
self-neglect, and disappearing gradually from the earth, almost
as if they had been exhaled to heaven; and have repeatedly
fancied that I could trace their deaths through the various
declensions of consumption, cold, debility, languor, melancholy,
until I reached the first symptom of disappointed love. But an
instance of the kind was lately told to me; the circumstances are
well known in the country where they happened, and I shall but
give them in the manner in which they were related.

Every one must recollect the tragical story of young E----, the
Irish patriot; it was too touching to be soon forgotten. During
the troubles in Ireland, he was tried, condemned, and executed,
on a charge of treason. His fate made a deep impression on public
sympathy. He was so young--so intelligent--so generous--so
brave--so every thing that we are apt to like in a young man. His
conduct under trial, too, was so lofty and intrepid. The noble
indignation with which he repelled the charge of treason against
his country--the eloquent vindication of his name--and his
pathetic appeal to posterity, in the hopeless hour of
condemnation, --all these entered deeply into every generous
bosom, and even his enemies lamented the stern policy that
dictated his execution.

But there was one heart whose anguish it would be impossible to
describe. In happier days and fairer fortunes, he had won the
affections of a beautiful and interesting girl, the daughter of a
late celebrated Irish barrister. She loved him with the
disinterested fervor of a woman's first and early love. When
every worldly maxim arrayed itself against him; when blasted in
fortune, and disgrace and danger darkened around his name, she
loved him the more ardently for his very sufferings. If, then,
his fate could awaken the sympathy even of his foes, what must
have been the agony of her, whose whole soul was occupied by his
image? Let those tell who have had the portals of the tomb
suddenly closed between them and the being they most loved on
earth--who have sat at its threshold, as one shut out in a cold
and lonely world, whence all that was most lovely and loving had

But then the horrors of such a grave!--so frightful, so
dishonored! There was nothing for memory to dwell on that could
soothe the pang of separation--none of those tender, though
melancholy circumstances which endear the parting scene--nothing
to melt sorrow into those blessed tears, sent like the dews of
heaven, to revive the heart in the parting hour of anguish.

To render her widowed situation more desolate, she had incurred
her father's displeasure by her unfortunate attachment, and was
an exile from the parental roof. But could the sympathy and kind
offices of friends have reached a spirit so shocked and driven in
by horror, she would have experienced no want of consolation, for
the Irish are a people of quick and generous sensibilities. The
most delicate and cherishing attentions were paid her by families
of wealth and distinction. She was led into society, and they
tried by all kinds of occupation and amusement to dissipate her
grief, and wean her from the tragical story of her loves. But it
was all in vain. There are some strokes of calamity that scathe
and scorch the soul--which penetrate to the vital seat of
happiness--and blast it, never again to put forth bud or blossom.
She never objected to frequent the haunts of pleasure, but was as
much alone there as in the depths of solitude; walking about in a
sad revery, apparently unconscious of the world around her. She
carried with her an inward woe that mocked at all the
blandishments of friendship, and "heeded not the song of the
charmer, charm he never so wisely."

The person who told me her story had seen her at a masquerade.
There can be no exhibition of far-gone wretchedness more striking
and painful than to meet it in such a scene. To find it wandering
like a spectre, lonely and joyless, where all around is gay--to
see it dressed out in the trappings of mirth, and looking so wan
and woe-begone, as if it had tried in vain to cheat the poor
heart into momentary forgetfulness of sorrow. After strolling
through the splendid rooms and giddy crowd with an air of utter
abstraction, she sat herself down on the steps of an orchestra,
and, looking about for some time with a vacant air, that showed
her insensibility to the garish scene, she began, with the
capriciousness of a sickly heart, to warble a little plaintive
air. She had an exquisite, voice; but on this occasion it was so
simple, so touching, it breathed forth such a soul of
wretchedness--that she drew a crowd, mute and silent, around her
and melted every one into tears.

The story of one so true and tender could not but excite great
interest in a country remarkable for enthusiasm. It completely
won the heart of a brave officer, who paid his addresses to her,
and thought that one so true to the dead, could not but prove
affectionate to the living. She declined his attentions, for her
thoughts were irrevocably engrossed by the memory of her former
lover. He, however, persisted in his suit. He solicited not her
tenderness, but her esteem. He was assisted by her conviction of
his worth, and her sense of her own destitute and dependent
situation, for she was existing on the kindness of friends. In a
word, he at length succeeded in gaining her hand, though with the
solemn assurance, that her heart was unalterably another's.

He took her with him to Sicily, hoping that a change of scene
might wear out the remembrance of early woes. She was an amiable
and exemplary wife, and made an effort to be a happy one; but
nothing could cure the silent and devouring melancholy that had
entered into her very soul. She wasted away in a slow, but
hopeless decline, and at length sunk into the grave, the victim
of a broken heart.

It was on her that Moore, the distinguished Irish poet, composed
the following lines:

She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps,
And lovers around her are sighing:
But coldly she turns from their gaze, and weeps,
For her heart in his grave is lying.

She sings the wild song of her dear native plains,
Every note which he loved awaking--
Ah! little they think, who delight in her strains,
How the heart of the minstrel is breaking!

He had lived for his love--for his country he died,
They were all that to life had entwined him--
Nor soon shall the tears of his country be dried,
Nor long will his love stay behind him!

Oh! make her a grave where the sunbeams rest,
When they promise a glorious morrow;
They'll shine o'er her sleep, like a smile from the west,
From her own loved island of sorrow!


If that severe doom of Synesius be true,--"It is a greater
offence to steal dead men's labor, than their clothes,"--what
shall become of most writers?

I HAVE often wondered at the extreme fecundity of the press, and
how it comes to pass that so many heads, on which Nature seems to
have inflicted the curse of barrenness, should teem with
voluminous productions. As a man travels on, however, in the
journey of life, his objects of wonder daily diminish, and he is
continually finding out some very simple cause for some great
matter of marvel. Thus have I chanced, in my peregrinations about
this great metropolis, to blunder upon a scene which unfolded to
me some of the mysteries of the book-making craft, and at once
put an end to my astonishment.

I was one summer's day loitering through the great saloons of the
British Museum, with that listlessness with which one is apt to
saunter about a museum in warm weather; sometimes lolling over
the glass cases of minerals, sometimes studying the hieroglyphics
on an Egyptian mummy, and some times trying, with nearly equal
success, to comprehend the allegorical paintings on the lofty
ceilings. Whilst I was gazing about in this idle way, my
attention was attracted to a distant door, at the end of a suite
of apartments. It was closed, but every now and then it would
open, and some strange-favored being, generally clothed in black,
would steal forth, and glide through the rooms, without noticing
any of the surrounding objects. There was an air of mystery about
this that piqued my languid curiosity, and I determined to
attempt the passage of that strait, and to explore the unknown
regions beyond. The door yielded to my hand, with all that
facility with which the portals of enchanted castles yield to the
adventurous knight-errant. I found myself in a spacious chamber,
surrounded with great cases of venerable books. Above the cases,
and just under the cornice, were arranged a great number of
black-looking portraits of ancient authors. About the room were
placed long tables, with stands for reading and writing, at which
sat many pale, studious personages, poring intently over dusty
volumes, rummaging among mouldy manuscripts, and taking copious
notes of their contents. A hushed stillness reigned through this
mysterious apartment, excepting that you might hear the racing of
pens over sheets of paper, and occasionally the deep sigh of one
of these sages, as he shifted his position to turn over the page
of an old folio; doubtless arising from that hollowness and
flatulency incident to learned research.

Now and then one of these personages would write something on a
small slip of paper, and ring a bell, whereupon a familiar would
appear, take the paper in profound silence, glide out of the
room, and return shortly loaded with ponderous tomes, upon which
the other would fall, tooth and nail, with famished voracity. I
had no longer a doubt that I had happened upon a body of magi,
deeply engaged in the study of occult sciences. The scene
reminded me of an old Arabian tale, of a philosopher shut up in
an enchanted library, in the bosom of a mountain, which opened
only once a year; where he made the spirits of the place bring
him books of all kinds of dark knowledge, so that at the end of
the year, when the magic portal once more swung open on its
hinges, he issued forth so versed in forbidden lore, as to be
able to soar above the heads of the multitude, and to control the
powers of Nature.

My curiosity being now fully aroused, I whispered to one of the
familiars, as he was about to leave the room, and begged an
interpretation of the strange scene before me. A few words were
sufficient for the purpose. I found that these mysterious
personages, whom I had mistaken for magi, were principally
authors, and were in the very act of manufacturing books. I was,
in fact, in the reading-room of the great British Library, an
immense collection of volumes of all ages and languages, many of
which are now forgotten, and most of which are seldom read: one
of these sequestered pools of obsolete literature to which modern
authors repair, and draw buckets full of classic lore, or "pure
English, undefiled," wherewith to swell their own scanty rills of

Being now in possession of the secret, I sat down in a corner,
and watched the process of this book manufactory. I noticed one
lean, bilious-looking wight, who sought none but the most
worm-eaten volumes, printed in black letter. He was evidently
constructing some work of profound erudition, that would be
purchased by every man who wished to be thought learned, placed
upon a conspicuous shelf of his library, or laid open upon his
table--but never read. I observed him, now and then, draw a large
fragment of biscuit out of his pocket, and gnaw; whether it was
his dinner, or whether he was endeavoring to keep off that
exhaustion of the stomach, produced by much pondering over dry
works, I leave to harder students than myself to determine.

There was one dapper little gentleman in bright-colored clothes,
with a chirping gossiping expression of countenance, who had all
the appearance of an author on good terms with his bookseller.
After considering him attentively, I recognized in him a diligent
getter-up of miscellaneous works, which bustled off well with the
trade. I was curious to see how he manufactured his wares. He
made more stir and show of business than any of the others;
dipping into various books, fluttering over the leaves of
manuscripts, taking a morsel out of one, a morsel out of another,
"line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a
little." The contents of his book seemed to be as heterogeneous
as those of the witches' cauldron in Macbeth. It was here a
finger and there a thumb, toe of frog and blind worm's sting,
with his own gossip poured in like "baboon's blood," to make the
medley "slab and good."

After all, thought I, may not this pilfering disposition be
implanted in authors for wise purposes? may it not be the way in
which Providence has taken care that the seeds of knowledge and
wisdom shall be preserved from age to age, in spite of the
inevitable decay of the works in which they were first produced?
We see that Nature has wisely, though whimsically provided for
the conveyance of seeds from clime to clime, in the maws of
certain birds; so that animals, which, in themselves, are little
better than carrion, and apparently the lawless plunderers of the
orchard and the corn-field, are, in fact, Nature's carriers to
disperse and perpetuate her blessings. In like manner, the
beauties and fine thoughts of ancient and obsolete authors are
caught up by these flights of predatory writers, and cast forth,
again to flourish and bear fruit in a remote and distant tract of
time. Many of their works, also, undergo a kind of
metempsychosis, and spring up under new forms. What was formerly
a ponderous history, revives in the shape of a romance--an old
legend changes into a modern play--and a sober philosophical
treatise furnishes the body for a whole series of bouncing and
sparkling essays. Thus it is in the clearing of our American
woodlands; where we burn down a forest of stately pines, a
progeny of dwarf oaks start up in their place; and we never see
the prostrate trunk of a tree mouldering into soil, but it gives
birth to a whole tribe of fungi.

Let us not then, lament over the decay and oblivion into which
ancient writers descend; they do but submit to the great law of
Nature, which declares that all sublunary shapes of matter shall
be limited in their duration, but which decrees, also, that their
element shall never perish. Generation after generation, both in
animal and vegetable life, passes away, but the vital principle
is transmitted to posterity, and the species continue to
flourish. Thus, also, do authors beget authors, and having
produced a numerous progeny, in a good old age they sleep with
their fathers, that is to say, with the authors who preceded
them--and from whom they had stolen.

Whilst I was indulging in these rambling fancies I had leaned my
head against a pile of reverend folios. Whether it was owing to
the soporific emanations for these works; or to the profound
quiet of the room; or to the lassitude arising from much
wandering; or to an unlucky habit of napping at improper times
and places, with which I am grievously afflicted, so it was, that
I fell into a doze. Still, however, my imagination continued
busy, and indeed the same scene continued before my mind's eye,
only a little changed in some of the details. I dreamt that the
chamber was still decorated with the portraits of ancient
authors, but that the number was increased. The long tables had
disappeared, and, in place of the sage magi, I beheld a ragged,
threadbare throng, such as may be seen plying about the great
repository of cast-off clothes, Monmouth Street. Whenever they
seized upon a book, by one of those incongruities common to
dreams, methought it turned into a garment of foreign or antique
fashion, with which they proceeded to equip themselves. I
noticed, however, that no one pretended to clothe himself from
any particular suit, but took a sleeve from one, a cape from
another, a skirt from a third, thus decking himself out
piecemeal, while some of his original rags would peep out from
among his borrowed finery.

There was a portly, rosy, well-fed parson, whom I observed ogling
several mouldy polemical writers through an eyeglass. He soon
contrived to slip on the voluminous mantle of one of the old
fathers, and having purloined the gray beard of another,
endeavored to look exceedingly wise; but the smirking commonplace
of his countenance set at naught all the trappings of wisdom. One
sickly-looking gentleman was busied embroidering a very flimsy
garment with gold thread drawn out of several old court-dresses
of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Another had trimmed himself
magnificently from an illuminated manuscript, had stuck a nosegay
in his bosom, culled from "The Paradise of Dainty Devices," and
having put Sir Philip Sidney's hat on one side of his head,
strutted off with an exquisite air of vulgar elegance. A third,
who was but of puny dimensions, had bolstered himself out bravely
with the spoils from several obscure tracts of philosophy, so
that he had a very imposing front, but he was lamentably tattered
in rear, and I perceived that he had patched his small-clothes
with scraps of parchment from a Latin author.

There were some well-dressed gentlemen, it is true, who only
helped themselves to a gem or so, which sparkled among their own
ornaments, without eclipsing them. Some, too, seemed to
contemplate the costumes of the old writers, merely to imbibe
their principles of taste, and to catch their air and spirit; but
I grieve to say, that too many were apt to array themselves, from
top to toe, in the patchwork manner I have mentioned. I shall not
omit to speak of one genius, in drab breeches and gaiters, and an
Arcadian hat, who had a violent propensity to the pastoral, but
whose rural wanderings had been confined to the classic haunts of
Primrose Hill, and the solitudes of the Regent's Park. He had
decked himself in wreaths and ribbons from all the old pastoral
poets, and, hanging his head on one side, went about with a
fantastical, lackadaisical air, "babbling about green field." But
the personage that most struck my attention was a pragmatical old
gentleman in clerical robes, with a remarkably large and square
but bald head. He entered the room wheezing and puffing, elbowed
his way through the throng with a look of sturdy self-confidence,
and, having laid hands upon a thick Greek quarto, clapped it upon
his head, and swept majestically away in a formidable frizzled

In the height of this literary masquerade, a cry suddenly
resounded from every side, of "Thieves! thieves!" I looked, and
lo! the portraits about the walls became animated! The old
authors thrust out, first a head, then a shoulder, from the
canvas, looked down curiously for an instant upon the motley
throng, and then descended, with fury in their eyes, to claim
their rifled property. The scene of scampering and hubbub that
ensued baffles all description. The unhappy culprits endeavored
in vain to escape with their plunder. On one side might be seen
half a dozen old monks, stripping a modern professor; on another,
there was sad devastation carried into the ranks of modern
dramatic writers. Beaumont and Fletcher, side by side, raged
round the field like Castor and Pollux, and sturdy Ben Jonson
enacted more wonders than when a volunteer with the army in
Flanders. As to the dapper little compiler of farragos mentioned
some time since, he had arrayed himself in as many patches and
colors as harlequin, and there was as fierce a contention of
claimants about him, as about the dead body of Patroclus. I was
grieved to see many men, to whom I had been accustomed to look up
with awe and reverence, fain to steal off with scarce a rag to
cover their nakedness. Just then my eye was caught by the
pragmatical old gentleman in the Greek grizzled wig, who was
scrambling away in sore affright with half a score of authors in
full cry after him. They were close upon his haunches; in a
twinkling off went his wig; at every turn some strip of raiment
was peeled away, until in a few moments, from his domineering
pomp, he shrunk into a little, pursy, "chopp'd bald shot," and
made his exit with only a few tags and rags fluttering at his

There was something so ludicrous in the catastrophe of this
learned Theban that I burst into an immoderate fit of laughter,
which broke the whole illusion. The tumult and the scuffle were
at an end. The chamber resumed its usual appearance. The old
authors shrunk back into their picture-frames, and hung in
shadowy solemnity along the walls. In short, I found myself wide
awake in my corner, with the whole assemblage of hookworms gazing
at me with astonishment. Nothing of the dream had been real but
my burst of laughter, a sound never before heard in that grave
sanctuary, and so abhorrent to the ears of wisdom, as to
electrify the fraternity.

The librarian now stepped up to me, and demanded whether I had a
card of admission. At first I did not comprehend him, but I soon
found that the library was a kind of literary "preserve," subject
to game-laws, and that no one must presume to hunt there without
special license and permission. In a word, I stood convicted of
being an arrant poacher, and was glad to make a precipitate
retreat, lest I should have a whole pack of authors let loose
upon me.


Though your body be confined
And soft love a prisoner bound,
Yet the beauty of your mind
Neither check nor chain hath found.
Look out nobly, then, and dare
Even the fetters that you wear.

ON a soft sunny morning in the genial month of May I made an
excursion to Windsor Castle. It is a place full of storied and
poetical associations. The very external aspect of the proud old
pile is enough to inspire high thought. It rears its irregular
walls and massive towers, like a mural crown around the brow of a
lofty ridge, waves its royal banner in the clouds, and looks down
with a lordly air upon the surrounding world.

On this morning, the weather was of that voluptuous vernal kind
which calls forth all the latent romance of a man's temperament,
filling his mind with music, and disposing him to quote poetry
and dream of beauty. In wandering through the magnificent saloons
and long echoing galleries of the castle I passed with
indifference by whole rows of portraits of warriors and
statesmen, but lingered in the chamber where hang the likenesses
of the beauties which graced the gay court of Charles the Second;
and as I gazed upon them, depicted with amorous, half-dishevelled
tresses, and the sleepy eye of love, I blessed the pencil of Sir
Peter Lely, which bad thus enabled me to bask in the reflected
rays of beauty. In traversing also the "large green courts," with
sunshine beaming on the gray walls and glancing along the velvet
turf, my mind was engrossed with the image of the tender, the
gallant, but hapless Surrey, and his account of his loiterings
about them in his stripling days, when enamoured of the Lady

"With eyes cast up unto the maiden's tower,
With easie sighs, such as men draw in love."

In this mood of mere poetical susceptibility, I visited the
ancient keep of the castle, where James the First of Scotland,
the pride and theme of Scottish poets and historians, was for
many years of his youth detained a prisoner of state. It is a
large gray tower, that has stood the brunt of ages, and is still
in good preservation. It stands on a mound which elevates it
above the other parts of the castle, and a great flight of steps
leads to the interior. In the armory, a Gothic hall furnished
with weapons of various kinds and ages, I was shown a coat of
armor hanging against the wall, which had once belonged to James.
Hence I was conducted up a staircase to a suite of apartments, of
faded magnificence, hung with storied tapestry, which formed his
prison, and the scene of that passionate and fanciful amour,
which has woven into the web of his story the magical hues of
poetry and fiction.

The whole history of this amiable but unfortunate prince is
highly romantic. At the tender age of eleven, he was sent from
home by his father, Robert III., and destined for the French
court, to be reared under the eye of the French monarch, secure
from the treachery and danger that surrounded the royal house of
Scotland. It was his mishap, in the course of his voyage, to fall
into the hands of the English, and he was detained prisoner by
Henry IV., notwithstanding that a truce existed between the two

The intelligence of his capture, coming in the train of many
sorrows and disasters, proved fatal to his unhappy father. "The
news," we are told, "was brought to him while at supper, and did
so overwhelm him with grief that he was almost ready to give up
the ghost into the hands of the servants that attended him. But
being carried to his bedchamber, he abstained from all food, and
in three days died of hunger and grief at Rothesay."*

* Buchanan.

James was detained in captivity above eighteen years; but, though
deprived of personal liberty, he was treated with the respect due
to his rank. Care was taken to instruct him in all the branches
of useful knowledge cultivated at that period, and to give him
those mental and personal accomplishments deemed proper for a
prince. Perhaps in this respect his imprisonment was an
advantage, as it enabled him to apply himself the more
exclusively to his improvement, and quietly to imbibe that rich
fund of knowledge and to cherish those elegant tastes which have
given such a lustre to his memory. The picture drawn of him in
early life by the Scottish historians is highly captivating, and
seems rather the description of a hero of romance than of a
character in real history. He was well learnt, we are told, "to
fight with the sword, to joust, to tourney, to wrestle, to sing
and dance; he was an expert mediciner, right crafty in playing
both of lute and harp, and sundry other instruments of music, and
was expert in grammar, oratory, and poetry."*

* Ballenden's translation of Hector Boyce.

With this combination of manly and delicate accomplishments,
fitting him to shine both in active and elegant life, and
calculated to give him an intense relish for joyous existence, it
must have been a severe trial, in an age of bustle and chivalry,
to pass the spring-time of his years in monotonous captivity. It
was the good fortune of James, however, to be gifted with a
powerful poetic fancy, and to be visited in his prison by the
choicest inspirations of the muse. Some minds corrode, and grow
inactive, under the loss of personal liberty; others grow morbid
and irritable; but it is the nature of the poet to become tender
and imaginative in the loneliness of confinement. He banquets
upon the honey of his own thoughts, and, like the captive bird,
pours forth his soul in melody.

Have you not seen the nightingale,
A pilgrim coop'd into a cage,
How doth she chant her wonted tale,
In that her lonely hermitage!
Even there her charming melody doth prove
That all her boughs are trees, her cage a grove.+

+ Roger L'Estrange.

Indeed, it is the divine attribute of the imagination, that it is
irrepressible, unconfinable--that when the real world is shut
out, it can create a world for itself, and, with a necromantic
power, can conjure up glorious shapes and forms and brilliant
visions, to make solitude populous, and irradiate the gloom of
the dungeon. Such was the world of pomp and pageant that lived
round Tasso in his dismal cell at Ferrara, when he conceived the
splendid scenes of his Jerusalem; and we may consider The King's
Quair,* composed by James during his captivity at Windsor, as
another of those beautiful breakings forth of the soul from the
restraint and gloom of the prison-house.

The subject of the poem is his love for the lady Jane Beaufort,
daughter of the Earl of Somerset, and a princess of the
blood-royal of England, of whom he became enamoured in the course
of his captivity. What gives it a peculiar value, is, that it may
be considered a transcript of the royal bard's true feelings, and
the story of his real loves and fortunes. It is not often that
sovereigns write poetry or that poets deal in fact. It is
gratifying to the pride of a common man, to find a monarch thus
suing, as it were, for admission into his closet, and seeking to
win his favor by administering to his pleasures. It is a proof of
the honest equality of intellectual competition, which strips off
all the trappings of factitious dignity, brings the candidate
down to a level with his fellow-men, and obliges him to depend on
his own native powers for distinction. It is curious, too, to get
at the history of a monarch's heart, and to find the simple
affections of human nature throbbing under the ermine. But James
had learnt to be a poet before he was a king; he was schooled in
adversity, and reared in the company of his own thoughts.
Monarchs have seldom time to parley with their hearts or to
meditate their minds into poetry; and had James been brought up
amidst the adulation and gayety of a court, we should never, in
all probability, have had such a poem as the Quair.

* Quair, an old term for book.

I have been particularly interested by those parts of the poem
which breathe his immediate thoughts concerning his situation, or
which are connected with the apartment in the Tower. They have
thus a personal and local charm, and are given with such
circumstantial truth as to make the reader present with the
captive in his prison and the companion of his meditations.

Such is the account which he gives of his weariness of spirit,
and of the incident which first suggested the idea of writing the
poem. It was the still mid-watch of a clear moonlight night; the
stars, he says, were twinkling as fire in the high vault of
heaven, and "Cynthia rinsing her golden locks in Aquarius." He
lay in bed wakeful and restless, and took a book to beguile the
tedious hours. The book he chose was Boetius' Consolations of
Philosophy, a work popular among the writers of that day, and
which had been translated by his great prototype, Chaucer. From
the high eulogium in which he indulges, it is evident this was
one of his favorite volumes while in prison; and indeed it is an
admirable text-book for meditation under adversity. It is the
legacy of a noble and enduring spirit, purified by sorrow and
suffering, bequeathing to its successors in calamity the maxims
of sweet morality, and the trains of eloquent but simple
reasoning, by which it was enabled to bear up against the various
ills of life. It is a talisman, which the unfortunate may
treasure up in his bosom, or, like the good King James, lay upon
his nightly pillow.

After closing the volume he turns its contents over in his mind,
and gradually falls into a fit of musing on the fickleness of
fortune, the vicissitudes of his own life, and the evils that had
overtaken him even in his tender youth. Suddenly he hears the
bell ringing to matins, but its sound, chiming in with his
melancholy fancies, seems to him like a voice exhorting him to
write his story. In the spirit of poetic errantry he determines
to comply with this intimation; he therefore takes pen in hand,
makes with it a sign of the cross to implore a benediction, and
sallies forth into the fairy-land of poetry. There is something
extremely fanciful in all this, and it is interesting as
furnishing a striking and beautiful instance of the simple manner
in which whole trains of poetical thought are sometimes awakened
and literary enterprises suggested to the mind.

In the course of his poem, he more than once bewails the peculiar
hardness of his fate, thus doomed to lonely and inactive life,
and shut up from the freedom and pleasure of the world in which
the meanest animal indulges unrestrained. There is a sweetness,
however, in his very complaints; they are the lamentations of an
amiable and social spirit at being denied the indulgence of its
kind and generous propensities; there is nothing in them harsh
nor exaggerated; they flow with a natural and touching pathos,
and are perhaps rendered more touching by their simple brevity.
They contrast finely with those elaborate and iterated repinings
which we sometimes meet with in poetry, the effusions of morbid
minds sickening under miseries of their own creating, and venting
their bitterness upon an unoffending world. James speaks of his
privations with acute sensibility, but having mentioned them
passes on, as if his manlv mind disdained to brood over
unavoidable calamities. When such a spirit breaks forth into
complaint, however brief, we are aware how great must be the
suffering that extorts the murmur. We sympathize with James, a
romantic, active, and accomplished prince, cut off in the
lustihood of youth from all the enterprise, the noble uses, and
vigorous delights of life, as we do with Milton, alive to all the
beauties of nature and glories of art, when he breathes forth
brief but deep-toned lamentations over his perpetual blindness.

Had not James evinced a deficiency of poetic artifice, we might
almost have suspected that these lowerings of gloomy reflection
were meant as preparative to the brightest scene of his story,
and to contrast with that refulgence of light and loveliness,
that exhilarating accompaniment of bird and song, and foliage and
flower, and all the revel of, the year, with which he ushers in
the lady of his heart. It is this scene, in particular, which
throws all the magic of romance about the old castle keep. He had
risen, he says, at daybreak, according to custom, to escape from
the dreary meditations of a sleepless pillow. "Bewailing in his
chamber thus alone," despairing of all joy and remedy, "for,
tired of thought, and woe-begone," he had wandered to the window
to indulge the captive's miserable solace, of gazing wistfully
upon the world from which he is excluded. The window looked forth
upon a small garden which lay at the foot of the tower. It was a
quiet, sheltered spot, adorned with arbors and green alleys, and
protected from the passing gaze by trees and hawthorn hedges.

Now was there made fast by the tower's wall,
A garden faire, and in the corners set
An arbour green with wandis long and small
Railed about, and so with leaves beset
Was all the place and hawthorn hedges knet,
That lyf* was none, walkyng there forbye,
That might within scarce any wight espye.

So thick the branches and the leves grene,
Beshaded all the alleys that there were,
And midst of every arbour might be seen,
The sharpe, grene, swete juniper,
Growing so fair with branches here and there,
That as it seemed to a lyf without,
The boughs did spread the arbour all about.

And on the small grene twistis+ set
The lytel swete nightingales, and sung
So loud and clear, the hymnis consecrate
Of lovis use, now soft, now loud among,
That all the garden and the wallis rung
Right of their song----

* Lyf, Person. + Twistis, small boughs or twigs.
NOTE--The language of the quotations is generally modernized.

It was the month of May, when every thing was in bloom, and he
interprets the song of the nightingale into the language of his
enamoured feeling:

Worship, all ye that lovers be, this May;
For of your bliss the kalends are begun,
And sing with us, Away, winter, away.
Come, summer, come, the sweet season and sun.

As he gazes on the scene, and listens to the notes of the birds,
he gradually relapses into one of those tender and undefinable
reveries, which fill the youthful bosom in this delicious season.
He wonders what this love may be of which he has so often read,
and which thus seems breathed forth in the quickening breath of
May, and melting all nature into ecstasy and song. If it really
be so great a felicity, and if it be a boon thus generally
dispensed to the most insignificant beings, why is he alone cut
off from its enjoyments?

Oft would I think, O Lord, what may this be,
That love is of such noble myght and kynde?
Loving his folke, and such prosperitee,
Is it of him, as we in books do find;
May he oure hertes setten* and unbynd:
Hath he upon oure hertes such maistrye?
Or is all this but feynit fantasye?

For giff he be of so grete excellence
That he of every wight hath care and charge,
What have I gilt+ to him, or done offense,
That I am thral'd, and birdis go at large?

* Setten, incline.
+ Gilt, what injury have I done, etc.

In the midst of his musing, as he casts his eye downward, he
beholds "the fairest and the freshest young floure" that ever he
had seen. It is the lovely Lady Jane, walking in the garden to
enjoy the beauty of that "fresh May morrowe." Breaking thus
suddenly upon his sight in a moment of loneliness and excited
susceptibility, she at once captivates the fancy of the romantic
prince, and becomes the object of his wandering wishes, the
sovereign of his ideal world.

There is, in this charming scene, an evident resemblance to the
early part of Chaucer's Knight's Tale, where Palamon and Arcite
fall in love with Emilia, whom they see walking in the garden of
their prison. Perhaps the similarity of the actual fact to the
incident which he had read in Chaucer may have induced James to
dwell on it in his poem. His description of the Lady Jane is
given in the picturesque and minute manner of his master, and,
being doubtless taken from the life, is a perfect portrait of a
beauty of that day. He dwells with the fondness of a lover on
every article of her apparel, from the net of pearl, splendent
with emeralds and sapphires, that confined her golden hair, even
to the "goodly chaine of small orfeverye"* about her neck,
whereby there hung a ruby in shape of a heart, that seemed, he
says, like a spark of fire burning upon her white bosom. Her
dress of white tissue was looped up to enable her to walk with
more freedom. She was accompanied by two female attendants, and
about her sported a little hound decorated with bells, probably
the small Italian hound of exquisite symmetry which was a parlor
favorite and pet among the fashionable dames of ancient times.
James closes his description by a burst of general eulogium:

In her was youth, beauty, with humble port,
Bounty, richesse, and womanly feature:
God better knows than my pen can report,
Wisdom, largesse,+ estate,++ and cunning& sure.
In every point so guided her measure,
In word, in deed, in shape, in countenance,
That nature might no more her child advance.

* Wrought gold.
+ Largesse, bounty.
++ Estate, dignity.
& Cunning, discretion.

The departure of the Lady Jane from the garden puts an end to
this transient riot of the heart. With her departs the amorous
illusion that had shed a temporary charm over the scene of his
captivity, and he relapses into loneliness, now rendered tenfold
more intolerable by this passing beam of unattainable beauty.
Through the long and weary day he repines at his unhappy lot, and
when evening approaches, and Phoebus, as he beautifully expresses
it, had "bade farewell to every leaf and flower," he still
lingers at the window, and, laying his head upon the cold stone,
gives vent to a mingled flow of love and sorrow, until, gradually
lulled by the mute melancholy of the twilight hour, he lapses,
"half-sleeping, half swoon," into a vision, which occupies the
remainder of the poem, and in which is allegorically shadowed out
the history of his passion.

When he wakes from his trance, he rises from his stony pillow,
and, pacing his apartment, full of dreary reflections, questions
his spirit, whither it has been wandering; whether, indeed, all
that has passed before his dreaming fancy has been conjured up by
preceding circumstances, or whether it is a vision intended to
comfort and assure him in his despondency. If the latter, he
prays that some token may be sent to confirm the promise of
happier days, given him in his slumbers. Suddenly, a turtledove
of the purest whiteness comes flying in at the window, and
alights upon his hand, bearing in her bill a branch of red
gilliflower, on the leaves of which is written, in letters of
gold, the following sentence:

Awake! Awake! I bring, lover, I bring
The newis glad, that blissful is and sure
Of thy comfort; now laugh, and play, and sing,
For in the heaven decretit is thy cure.

He receives the branch with mingled hope and dread; reads it with
rapture; and this he says was the first token of his succeeding
happiness. Whether this is a mere poetic fiction, or whether the
Lady Jane did actually send him a token of her favor in this
romantic way, remains to be determined according to the fate or
fancy of the reader. He concludes his poem by intimating that the
promise conveyed in the vision and by the flower, is fulfilled by
his being restored to liberty, and made happy in the possession
of the sovereign of his heart.

Such is the poetical account given by James of his love
adventures in Windsor Castle. How much of it is absolute fact,
and how much the embellishment of fancy, it is fruitless to
conjecture; let us not, however, reject every romantic incident
as incompatible with real life, but let us sometimes take a poet
at his word. I have noticed merely those parts of the poem
immediately connected with the tower, and have passed over a
large part which was in the allegorical vein, so much cultivated
at that day. The language, of course, is quaint and antiquated,
so that the beauty of many of its golden phrases will scarcely be
perceived at the present day, but it is impossible not to be
charmed with the genuine sentiment, the delightful artlessness
and urbanity, which prevail throughout it. The descriptions of
Nature too, with which it is embellished, are given with a truth,
a discrimination, and a freshness, worthy of the most cultivated
periods of the art.

As an amatory poem, it is edifying, in these days of coarser
thinking, to notice the nature, refinement, and exquisite
delicacy which pervade it; banishing every gross thought, or
immodest expression, and presenting female loveliness, clothed in
all its chivalrous attributes of almost supernatural purity and

James flourished nearly about the time of Chaucer and Gower, and
was evidently an admirer and studier of their writings. Indeed,
in one of his stanzas he acknowledges them as his masters; and in
some parts of his poem we find traces of similarity to their
productions, more especially to those of Chaucer. There are
always, however, general features of resemblance in the works of
contemporary authors, which are not so much borrowed from each
other as from the times. Writers, like bees, toll their sweets in
the wide world; they incorporate with their own conceptions, the
anecdotes and thoughts current in society; and thus each
generation has some features in common, characteristic of the age
in which it lives.

James belongs to one of the most brilliant eras of our literary
history, and establishes the claims of his country to a
participation in its primitive honors. Whilst a small cluster of
English writers are constantly cited as the fathers of our verse,
the name of their great Scottish compeer is apt to be passed over
in silence; but he is evidently worthy of being enrolled in that
little constellation of remote but never-failing luminaries who
shine in the highest firmament of literature, and who, like
morning stars, sang together at the bright dawning of British

Such of my readers as may not be familiar with Scottish history
(though the manner in which it has of late been woven with
captivating fiction has made it a universal study) may be curious
to learn something of the subsequent history of James and the
fortunes of his love. His passion for the Lady Jane, as it was
the solace of his captivity, so it facilitated his release, it
being imagined by the Court that a connection with the
blood-royal of England would attach him to its own interests. He
was ultimately restored to his liberty and crown, having
previously espoused the Lady Jane, who accompanied him to
Scotland, and made him a most tender and devoted wife.

He found his kingdom in great confusion, the feudal chieftains
having taken advantage of the troubles and irregularities of a
long interregnum, to strengthen themselves n their possessions,
and place themselves above the power of the laws. James sought to
found the basis of his power in the affections of his people. He
attached the lower orders to him by the reformation of abuses,
the temperate and equable administration of justice, the
encouragement of the arts of peace, and the promotion of every
thing that could diffuse comfort, competency, and innocent
enjoyment through the humblest ranks of society. He mingled
occasionally among the common people in disguise; visited their
firesides; entered into their cares, their pursuits, and their
amusements; informed himself of the mechanical arts, and how they
could best be patronized and improved; and was thus an
all-pervading spirit, watching with a benevolent eye over the
meanest of his subjects. Having in this generous manner made
himself strong in the hearts of the common people, he turned
himself to curb the power of the factious nobility; to strip them
of those dangerous immunities which they had usurped; to punish
such as had been guilty of flagrant offences; and to bring the
whole into proper obedience to the Crown. For some time they bore
this with outward submission, but with secret impatience and
brooding resentment. A conspiracy was at length formed against
his life, at the head of which was his own uncle, Robert Stewart,
Earl of Athol, who, being too old himself for the perpetration of
the deed of blood, instigated his grandson, Sir Robert Stewart,
together with Sir Robert Graham, and others of less note, to
commit the deed. They broke into his bedchamber at the Dominican
convent near Perth, where he was residing, and barbarously
murdered him by oft-repeated wounds. His faithful queen, rushing
to throw her tender body between him and the sword, was twice
wounded in the ineffectual attempt to shield him from the
assassin; and it was not until she had been forcibly torn from
his person, that the murder was accomplished.

It was the recollection of this romantic tale of former times,
and of the golden little poem, which had its birthplace in this
tower, that made me visit the old pile with more than common
interest. The suit of armor hanging up in the hall, richly gilt
and embellished, as if to figure in the tourney, brought the
image of the gallant and romantic prince vividly before my
imagination. I paced the deserted chambers where he had composed
his poem; I leaned upon the window, and endeavored to persuade
myself it was the very one where he had been visited by his
vision; I looked out upon the spot where he had first seen the
Lady Jane. It was the same genial and joyous month; the birds
were again vying with each other in strains of liquid melody;
every thing was bursting into vegetation, and budding forth the
tender promise of the year. Time, which delights to obliterate
the sterner memorials of human pride, seems to have passed
lightly over this little scene of poetry and love, and to have
withheld his desolating hand. Several centuries have gone by, yet
the garden still flourishes at the foot of the tower. It occupies
what was once the moat of the keep; and, though some parts have
been separated by dividing walls, yet others have still their
arbors and shaded walks, as in the days of James, and the whole
is sheltered, blooming, and retired. There is a charm about the
spot that has been printed by the footsteps of departed beauty,
and consecrated by the inspirations of the poet, which is
heightened, rather than impaired, by the lapse of ages. It is,
indeed, the gift of poetry, to hallow every place in which it
moves; to breathe around nature an odor more exquisite than the
perfume of the rose, and to shed over it a tint more magical than
the blush of morning.

Others may dwell on the illustrious deeds of James as a warrior
and a legislator; but I have delighted to view him merely as the
companion of his fellow-men, the benefactor of the human heart,
stooping from his high estate to sow the sweet flowers of poetry
and song in the paths of common life. He was the first to
cultivate the vigorous and hardy plant of Scottish genius, which
has since become so prolific of the most wholesome and highly
flavored fruit. He carried with him into the sterner regions of
the north, all the fertilizing arts of southern refinement. He
did every thing in his power to win his countrymen to the gay,
the elegant, and gentle arts, which soften and refine the
character of a people, and wreathe a grace round the loftiness of
a proud and warlike spirit. He wrote many poems, which,
unfortunately for the fulness of his fame, are now lost to the
world; one, which is still preserved, called "Christ's Kirk of
the Green," shows how diligently he had made himself acquainted
with the rustic sports and pastimes, which constitute such a
source of kind and social feeling among the Scottish peasantry;
and with what simple and happy humor he could enter into their
enjoyments. He contributed greatly to improve the national music;
and traces of his tender sentiment and elegant taste are said to
exist in those witching airs, still piped among the wild
mountains and lonely glens of Scotland. He has thus connected his
image with whatever is most gracious and endearing in the
national character; he has embalmed his memory in song, and
floated his name to after-ages in the rich streams of Scottish
melody. The recollection of these things was kindling at my
heart, as I paced the silent scene of his imprisonment. I have
visited Vaucluse with as much enthusiasm as a pilgrim would visit
the shrine at Loretto; but I have never felt more poetical
devotion than when contemplating the old tower and the little
garden at Windsor, and musing over the romantic loves of the Lady
Jane, and the Royal Poet of Scotland.


A gentleman!
What o' the woolpack? or the sugar-chest?
Or lists of velvet? which is 't, pound, or yard,
You vend your gentry by?

THERE are few places more favorable to the study of character
than an English country church. I was once passing a few weeks at
the seat of a friend who resided in, the vicinity of one the
appearance of which particularly struck my fancy. It was one of
those rich morsels of quaint antiquity, which gives such a
peculiar charm to English landscape. It stood in the midst of a
country filled with ancient families, and contained within its
cold and silent aisles the congregated dust of many noble
generations. The interior walls were encrusted with monuments of
every age and style. The light streamed through windows dimmed
with armorial bearings, richly emblazoned in stained glass. In
various parts of the church were tombs of knights, and highborn
dames, of gorgeous workmanship, with their effigies in colored
marble. On every side, the eye was struck with some instance of
aspiring mortality, some haughty memorial which human pride had
erected over its kindred dust in this temple of the most humble
of all religions.

The congregation was composed of the neighboring people of rank,
who sat in pews sumptuously lined and cushioned, furnished with
richly-gilded prayer-books, and decorated with their arms upon
the pew doors; of the villagers and peasantry, who filled the
back seats and a small gallery beside the organ; and of the poor
of the parish, who were ranged on benches in the aisles.

The service was performed by a snuffling, well-fed vicar, who had
a snug dwelling near the church. He was a privileged guest at all
the tables of the neighborhood, and had been the keenest
fox-hunter in the country, until age and good living had disabled
him from doing anything more than ride to see the hounds throw
off, and make one at the hunting dinner.

Under the ministry of such a pastor, I found it impossible to get
into the train of thought suitable to the time and place; so,
having, like many other feeble Christians, compromised with my
conscience, by laying the sin of my own delinquency at another
person's threshold, I occupied myself by making observations on
my neighbors.

I was as yet a stranger in England, and curious to notice the
manners of its fashionable classes. I found, as usual, that there
was the least pretension where there was the most acknowledged
title to respect. I was particularly struck, for instance, with
the family of a nobleman of high rank, consisting of several sons
and daughters. Nothing could be more simple and unassuming than
their appearance. They generally came to church in the plainest
equipage, and often on foot. The young ladies would stop and
converse in the kindest manner with the peasantry, caress the
children, and listen to the stories of the humble cottagers.
Their countenances were open and beautifully fair, with an
expression of high refinement, but at the same time a frank
cheerfulness and engaging affability. Their brothers were tall,
and elegantly formed. They were dressed fashionably, but
simply--with strict neatness and propriety, but without any
mannerism or foppishness. Their whole demeanor was easy and
natural, with that lofty grace and noble frankness which bespeak
free-born souls that have never been checked in their growth by
feelings of inferiority. There is a healthful hardiness about
real dignity, that never dreads contact and communion with
others, however humble. It is only spurious pride that is morbid
and sensitive, and shrinks from every touch. I was pleased to see
the manner in which they would converse with the peasantry about
those rural concerns and field-sports in which the gentlemen of
the country so much delight. In these conversations there was
neither haughtiness on the one part, nor servility on the other,
and you were only reminded of the difference of rank by the
habitual respect of the peasant.

In contrast to these was the family of a wealthy citizen, who had
amassed a vast fortune, and, having purchased the estate and
mansion of a ruined nobleman in the neighborhood, was endeavoring
to assume all the style and dignity of an hereditary lord of the
soil. The family always came to church en prince. They were
rolled majestically along in a carriage emblazoned with arms. The
crest glittered in silver radiance from every part of the harness
where a crest could possibly be placed. A fat coachman, in a
three-cornered hat richly laced and a flaxen wig, curling close
round his rosy face, was seated on the box, with a sleek Danish
dog beside him. Two footmen in gorgeous liveries, with huge
bouquets, and gold-headed canes, lolled behind. The carriage rose
and sunk on its long springs with a peculiar stateliness of
motion. The very horses champed their bits, arched their necks,
and glanced their eyes more proudly than common horses; either
because they had caught a little of the family feeling, or were
reined up more tightly than ordinary.

I could not but admire the style with which this splendid pageant
was brought up to the gate of the churchyard. There was a vast
effect produced at the turning of an angle of the wall--a great
smacking of the whip, straining and scrambling of the horses,
glistening of harness, and flashing of wheels through gravel.
This was the moment of triumph and vainglory to the coachman. The
horses were urged and checked, until they were fretted into a
foam. They threw out their feet in a. prancing trot, dashing
about pebbles at every step. The crowd of villagers sauntering
quietly to church opened precipitately to the right and left,
gaping in vacant admiration. On reaching the gate, the horses
were pulled up with a suddenness that produced an immediate stop,
and almost threw them on their haunches.

There was an extraordinary hurry of the footmen to alight, pull
down the steps, and prepare everything for the descent on earth
of this august family. The old citizen first emerged his round
red face from out the door, looking about him with the pompous
air of a man accustomed to rule on 'Change, and shake the Stock
Market with a nod. His consort, a fine, fleshy, comfortable dame,
followed him. There seemed, I must confess, but little pride in
her composition. She was the picture of broad, honest, vulgar
enjoyment. The world went well with her; and she liked the world.
She had fine clothes, a fine house, a fine carriage, fine
children--everything was fine about her: it was nothing but
driving about and visiting and feasting. Life was to her a
perpetual revel; it was one long Lord Mayor's Day.

Two daughters succeeded to this goodly couple. They certainly
were handsome, but had a supercilious air that chilled admiration
and disposed the spectator to be critical. They were
ultrafashionable in dress, and, though no one could deny the
richness of their decorations, yet their appropriateness might be
questioned amidst the simplicity of a country church. They
descended loftily from the carriage, and moved up the line of
peasantry with a step that seemed dainty of the soil it trod on.
They cast an excursive glance around, that passed coldly over the
burly faces of the peasantry, until they met the eyes of the
nobleman's family, when their countenances immediately brightened
into smiles, and they made the most profound and elegant
courtesies, which were returned in a manner that showed they were
but slight acquaintances.

I must not forget the two sons of this inspiring citizen, who
came to church in a dashing curricle with outriders. They were
arrayed in the extremity of the mode, with all that pedantry of
dress which marks the man of questionable pretensions to style.
They kept entirely by themselves, eying every one askance that
came near them, as if measuring his claims to respectability; yet
they were without conversation, except the exchange of an
occasional cant phrase. They even moved artificially, for their
bodies, in compliance with the caprice of the day, had been
disciplined into the absence of all ease and freedom. Art had
done everything to accomplish them as men of fashion, but Nature
had denied them the nameless grace. They were vulgarly shaped,
like men formed for the common purposes of life, and had that air
of supercilious assumption which is never seen in the true

I have been rather minute in drawing the pictures of these two
families, because I considered them specimens of what is often to
be met with in this country--the unpretending great, and the
arrogant little. I have no respect for titled rank, unless it be
accompanied with true nobility of soul; but I have remarked, in
all countries where artificial distinctions exist, that the very
highest classes are always the most courteous and unassuming.
Those who are well assured of their own standing are least apt to
trespass on that of others; whereas, nothing is so offensive as
the aspirings of vulgarity, which thinks to elevate itself by
humiliating its neighbor.

As I have brought these families into contrast, I must notice
their behavior in church. That of the nobleman's family was
quiet, serious, and attentive. Not that they appeared to have any
fervor of devotion, but rather a respect for sacred things, and
sacred places, inseparable from good-breeding. The others, on the
contrary, were in a perpetual flutter and whisper; they betrayed
a continual consciousness of finery, and the sorry ambition of
being the wonders of a rural congregation.

The old gentleman was the only one really attentive to the
service. He took the whole burden of family devotion upon
himself; standing bolt upright, and uttering the responses with a
loud voice that might be heard all over the church. It was
evident that he was one of these thorough Church-and-king men,
who connect the idea of devotion and loyalty; who consider the
Deity, somehow or other, of the government party, and religion "a
very excellent sort of thing, that ought to be countenanced and
kept up."

When he joined so loudly in the service, it seemed more by way of
example to the lower orders, to show them that, though so great
and wealthy, he was not above being religious; as I have seen a
turtle-fed alderman swallow publicly a basin of charity soup,
smacking his lips at every mouthful and pronouncing it "excellent
food for the poor."

When the service was at an end, I was curious to witness the
several exits of my groups. The young noblemen and their sisters,
as the day was fine, preferred strolling home across the fields,
chatting with the country people as they went. The others
departed as they came, in grand parade. Again were the equipages
wheeled up to the gate. There was again the smacking of whips,
the clattering of hoofs, and the glittering of harness. The
horses started off almost at a bound; the villagers again hurried
to right and left; the wheels threw up a cloud of dust, and the
aspirin family was rapt out of sight in a whirlwind.


Pittie olde age, within whose silver haires
Honour and reverence evermore have rain'd.

THOSE who are in the habit of remarking such matters must have
noticed the passive quiet of an English landscape on Sunday. The
clacking of the mill, the regularly recurring stroke of the
flail, the din of the blacksmith's hammer, the whistling of the
ploughman, the rattling of the cart, and all other sounds of
rural labor are suspended. The very farm-dogs bark less
frequently, being less disturbed by passing travellers. At such
times I have almost fancied the wind sunk into quiet, and that
the sunny landscape, with its fresh green tints melting into blue
haze, enjoyed the hallowed calm.

Sweet day, so pure, so calm, so brigh'
The bridal of the earth and sky.

Well was it ordained that the day of devotion should be a day of
rest. The holy repose which reigns over the face of nature has
its moral influence; every restless passion is charmed down, and
we feel the natural religion of the soul gently springing up
within us. For my part, there are feelings that visit me, in a
country church, amid the beautiful serenity of nature, which I
experience nowhere else; and if not a more religious, I think I
am a better man on Sunday than on any other day of the seven.

During my recent residence in the country, I used frequently to
attend at the old village church. Its shadowy aisles, its
mouldering monuments, its dark oaken panelling, all reverend with
the gloom of departed years, seemed to fit it for the haunt of
solemn meditation; but, being in a wealthy, aristocratic
neighborhood, the glitter of fashion penetrated even into the
sanctuary; and I felt myself continually thrown back upon the
world, by the frigidity and pomp of the poor worms around me. The
only being in the whole congregation who appeared thoroughly to
feel the humble and prostrate piety of a true Christian was a
poor decrepit old woman, bending under the weight of years and
infirmities. She bore the traces of something better than abject
poverty. The lingerings of decent pride were visible in her
appearance. Her dress, though humble in the extreme, was
scrupulously clean. Some trivial respect, too, had been awarded
her, for she did not take her seat among the village poor, but
sat alone on the steps of the altar. She seemed to have survived
all love, all friendship, all society, and to have nothing left
her but the hopes of heaven. When I saw her feebly rising and
bending her aged form in prayer; habitually conning her
prayer-book, which her palsied hand and failing eyes could not
permit her to read, but which she evidently knew by heart, I felt
persuaded that the faltering voice of that poor woman arose to
heaven far before the responses of the clerk, the swell of the
organ, or the chanting of the choir.

I am fond of loitering about country churches, and this was so
delightfully situated, that it frequently attracted me. It stood
on a knoll, round which a small stream made a beautiful bend and
then wound its way through a long reach of soft meadow scenery.
The church was surrounded by yew trees, which seemed almost
coeval with itself. Its tall Gothic spire shot up lightly from
among them, with rooks and crows generally wheeling about it. I
was seated there one still sunny morning watching two laborers
who were digging a grave. They had chosen one of the most remote
and neglected corners of the churchyard, where, from the number
of nameless graves around, it would appear that the indigent and
friendless were huddled into the earth. I was told that the
new-made grave was for the only son of a poor widow. While I was
meditating on the distinctions of worldly rank, which extend thus
down into the very dust, the toll of the bell announced the
approach of the funeral. They were the obsequies of poverty, with
which pride had nothing to do. A coffin of the plainest
materials, without pall or other covering, was borne by some of
the villagers. The sexton walked before with an air of cold
indifference. There were no mock mourners in the trappings of
affected woe, but there was one real mourner who feebly tottered
after the corpse. It was the aged mother of the deceased, the
poor old woman whom I had seen seated on the steps of the altar.
She was supported by a humble friend, who was endeavoring to
comfort her. A few of the neighboring poor had joined the train,
and some children of the village were running hand in hand, now
shouting with unthinking mirth, and now pausing to gaze, with
childish curiosity on the grief of the mourner.

As the funeral train approached the grave, the parson issued from
the church-porch, arrayed in the surplice, with prayer-book in
hand, and attended by the clerk. The service, however, was a mere
act of charity. The deceased had been destitute, and the survivor
was penniless. It was shuffled through, therefore, in form, but
coldly and unfeeling. The well-fed priest moved but a few steps
from the church door; his voice could scarcely be heard at the
grave; and never did I hear the funeral service, that sublime and
touching ceremony, turned into such a frigid mummery of words.

I approached the grave. The coffin was placed on the ground. On
it were inscribed the name and age of the deceased--"George
Somers, aged 26 years." The poor mother had been assisted to
kneel down at the head of it. Her withered hands were clasped, as
if in prayer; but I could perceive, by a feeble rocking of the
body, and a convulsive motion of the lips, that she was gazing on
the last relics of her son with the yearnings of a mother's

Preparations were made to deposit the coffin in the earth. There
was that bustling stir, which breaks so harshly on the feelings
of grief and affection; directions given in the cold tones of
business; the striking of spades into sand and gravel; which, at
the grave of those we love, is, of all sounds, the most
withering. The bustle around seemed to waken the mother from a
wretched revery. She raised her glazed eyes, and looked about
with a faint wildness. As the men approached with cords to lower
the coffin into the grave, she wrung her hands, and broke into an
agony of grief. The poor woman who attended her took her by the
arm endeavoring to raise her from the earth, and to whisper
something like consolation: "Nay, now--nay, now--don't take it so
sorely to heart." She could only shake her head, and wring her
hands, as one not to be comforted.

As they lowered the body into the earth, the creaking of the
cords seemed to agonize her; but when, on some accidental
obstruction, there was a jostling of the coffin, all the

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