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I have now a pleasant ramble of a few miles before me, and will note down, as I pass along, the objects that interest me; but let me not stir from the spot till I have made a record of yonder glorious western sky. What an amplifier of the heart, what an expander of the soul, is the clear blue arch of heaven, adorned with clouds, and lit up by the declining sun! I feel an uplifting, a purifying, a devotional influence stealing over me, as I gaze on yonder glowing and glorious assemblage of blue mountains floating on a sea of burnished gold! Every imaginable colour, and every unimaginable degree of brightness, is spread before me, mingling in delightful, sublime, and harmonious confusion! If such the glory of created things, well may angels veil their faces in the presence of their all-glorious Creator!
The village church is scarcely a stone's cast from my path. There is the low unobtrusive tower, and there the old yew-tree near the porch! That tree must have stood sentinel over the green hillocks, the monuments, and the tombstones, for hundreds of years. Beneath its wide-spread branches must have been borne, on the bier,
infant of days and the man of years, and the child, the husband and the wife, in melancholy succession. The churchyard is
wrapped in unbroken silence; not a solitary sheep, with a tinkling bell, is grazing amid the graves; not a single jackdaw is cawing round the tower. Beneath the brier-bound earth repose the departed inhabitants of the village.
"The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
There is something sweetly soothing in the calm repose of a village churchyard, to one whose hopes are beyond the grave: not joyous, but tranquil; not giving pleasure, but imparting peace. A week has not passed since, through that humble porch, I followed the remains of the lamented pastor of this village. Oft had I heard from his lips the words which were spoken as his lifeless dust was borne along beneath the flowing pall. "I am the resurrection, and the life," saith the Lord: "he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die," John xi. 25, 26. Glorious truth! animating consolation!.
As I proceed along the fields a valley lies before me, the murmuring of a rivulet reaches my ear, and yonder stands an aged oak-tree, ivy-clad
to its topmost branches. This is a pleasant place; nay, more than pleasant; it is a sweet, sequestered vale. Its beauties grow upon me. What a spot is this to muse in at summer-tide!
"At the close of the day, when the hamlet is still,
I am now in the middle of the narrow valley, and the deep hollow yonder, filled with water, and skirted with all the wild entanglement of nettle, reed, and fern, rushes, brambles, and wild roses, is truly bewitching. An enthusiastic lover of nature has the power of amplifying the scenes on which he gazes. When he gives the reins to his imagination, he can see a lake ina six-foot pond, a forest in a woody bank, and a mountain in a rising mound of earth. Nor is there, in this, aught that requires repression. We do the same thing when we gaze on paintings, wherein nature in her amplitude is reduced to narrow limits. If, then, our imagination enlarges the resemblance of nature with advantage, why not with equal advantage amplify nature itself? I shall now indulge my fancy. The Falls of the Clyde cannot be fairer than that rivulet. Neither Lomond, Geneva, nor Lago
Maggiore itself, can be finer than that miniature lake. The bushes and tall reeds are pines in my estimation; and that dark wood yonder equals the Black Forest, in my present mood. If you could see the little patch in the middle of the pond, beautified as it is with vegetation; if you could see it with my eyes, you would say that the "Isola Bella," the beautiful island of the Lombardian lake, did not exceed it in interest. It is absolutely lovely! Every moment some lichen or creeping plant is discovered, that adds a fresh beauty to the scene.
What a costly gift is that of the imagination, when controlled by reason! It enables me at this moment to revel in enjoyment with a grateful heart. This little lake has no pyramid of terraces, nor is it fringed with town or village, castle and church, orchard and vineyard, as many of the larger lakes of the earth are; but there is much of the wild, the romantic, the picturesque, and the lively, congregated here. Scotland, Switzerland, and Italy, I envy you not! There is that before me which makes my pulse throb, and my heart beat with delight.
I have left the middle of the valley, and am now standing by a moat. A more secluded spot I scarcely remember to have seen. Its dark and almost inky waters are yet clear, for I can tracę
downwards the stems of the broad leaves that cover the surface. There are tall trees over my head; their trunks are rugged and mossed to their very tops. The bark of that birch yonder is beautiful; its black cracks set off its silvery whiteness. There is a goodly assemblage of trees, and shrubs, and creepers, and a prodigality of colours in the autumnal tinted vegetation; and the influential loneliness around tells me that no eye but mine is enjoying the varied scene. The long grass, the high nettles, and the light reeds; the rushes, with a bunch, or spray, of seeds springing out near their tops; the black thorn, "armed at all points; the bramble, straggling far over the neighbouring bushes; the green holly; the brown, sere, crumpled oak leaves; the dried fern, of darker brown; and the crimson leaf of the wild rose, drab coloured underneath, form a gorgeous spectacle. The weedy, rushy, sedgy, and solitary character of the place binds me to the spot. A wild duck is now paddling on the moat; a water rat has just splashed beneath the surface; two magpies have fled over the birch tree, making a noise like the shaking of small pebbles together; and a score or two of rooks are winging their way to their nests in the high elm trees of a distant rookery.