Слике страница
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

' wild flowers by its margin. But, beyond the space • I have mentioned, the juvenile anglers do not, ' after sun-set, voluntarily extend their excursions. The cause is, that farther up the narrow valley, and in a recess which seems scooped out of the side of the steep heathy bank, there is a deserted burial-ground which the little cowards are fearful

of approaching in the twilight. To me, however, the place has an inexpressible charm. It has 'been long the favourite termination of my walks, ' and, if

my
kind

patron forgets not his promise, • will (and probably at no very distant day) be my ' final resting-place after my mortal pilgrimage.

It is a spot which possesses all the solemnity of feeling attached to a burial-ground, without exciting those of a more unpleasing description. Having been very little used for many years, the • few hillocks which rise above the level plain are 6 covered with the same short velvet turf. The monuments, of which there are not above seven or eight, are half sunk in the ground, and overgrown with moss. No newly-erected tomb disturbs the sober serenity of our reflections by ' reminding us of recent calamity, and no rank

springing grass forces upon our imagination the recollection, that it owes its dark luxuriance to

the foul and festering remnants of mortality which • ferment beneath. The daisy which sprinkles the sod, and the hare-bell which hangs over it, derive

6

6

[ocr errors]

G

6

6

their pure nourishment from the dew of Heaven, and their growth impresses us with no degrading or disgusting recollections. Death has indeed been here, and its traces are before us; but they are softened and deprived of their horror by our • distance from the period when they have been ' first impressed. Those who sleep beneath are

only connected with us by the reflection that they « have once been what we now are, and that, as

their reliques are now identified with their mother earth, ours shall, at some future period, undergo the same transformation. -Old Mortality, ch. 1.

The following passage, on a very different subject, is written in the same spirit, and although less accurately composed, possesses similar beauties.

• It was on the second night after my arrival in • Paris, that, finding myself rather too early for an evening party to which I was invited, I strolled out, enjoying the pure and delicious air of a * summer night in France, until I found myself in 6 the centre of the Place de Louis Quinze, sur• rounded, as I have described it, by objects so • noble in themselves, and so powerfully associated

with deep historic and moral interest. And here am I at length in Paris,' was the natural re·flection; and under circumstances how different

from what I dared to have anticipated! That is * the palace of Louis le Grand; but how long have his descendants been banished from its halls, and

6

• under what auspices do they now again possess

them! This superb esplanade takes its name from his luxurious and feeble descendant; and here,

upon the very spot where I now stand, the most • virtuous of the Bourbon race expiated, by a • violent death inflicted by his own subjects, and in view of his own palace, the ambitions and follies of his predecessors. There is an awful solemnity in the reflection, how few of those who contributed to this deed of injustice and atrocity now look upon

the light, and behold the progress of retribution. The glimmering lights that shine among • the alleys and parterres of the Champs Elysées • indicate none of the usual vigils common in a me

tropolis. They are the watch-fires of a camp, of • an English camp, and in the capital of France,

where an English drum has not been heard since • 1436, when the troops of Henry the Sixth were * expelled from Paris. During that space, of nearly • four centuries, there has scarce occurred a single 6 crisis which rendered it probable for a moment, • that Paris should be again entered by the English as conquerors; but least of all, could such a consummation have been expected at the conclusion of a war, in which France so long predominated as arbitress of the continent, and which had periods when Britain seemed to continue the conflict only in honourable despair.' • There were other subjects of deep interest

6

6

6

( around me.

The lights which proceeded from the windows and from the gardens of the large • hotel occupied by the Duke of Wellington, at the corner of the Rue des Champs Elysées, and which chanced that evening to be illuminated in honour ? of a visit from the allied sovereigns, mingled with • the twinkle of the camp-fires and the glimmer of the tents; and the music, which played a variety of English and Scottish airs, harmonized with the distant roll of the drums, and the notes of that beautiful point of war which is performed by our bugles at the setting of the watch. In these sounds there was pride and victory and honour, some

portion of which descended. (in imagination at • least) to each, the most retired and humblest fellow-subject of the hero who led, and the soldiers who obeyed, in the achievements which had borne the colours of Britain into the capital of France. * But there was enough around me to temper the natural feelings of elation, which, as a Briton, • I could not but experience. Monuments rose 'on every side, designed to commemorate mighty actions, which may well claim the highest praise that military achievement alone, abstracted from

the cause in which it was accomplished, could be • entitled to. No building among the splendid monuments .of Paris, but is marked with the name, or device, or insignia, of an emperor, whose power seemed as deeply founded as it was widely

6

extended. Yet the gourd of the prophet, which 'came up in a night and perished in a night, has proved the type of authority so absolute, and of fame so diffused; and the possessor of this mighty power

is now the inhabitant of a distant and sequestered islet, with hardly so much free will as entitles him to claim from his warders an hour of solitude, even in the most solitary spot in the - civilized world.'-Paul's Letters, Letter XII.

[ocr errors]
« ПретходнаНастави »