« PrécédentContinuer »
had withered in its embrace. It seemed like Laöc'oön' struggling ineffectually in the hideous coils of the monster Python." It was the liön of trees perishing in the embraces of a vegetable Boa.
3. I am fond of listening to the conversation of English gentlemen on rural concerns, and of noticing with what taste and discrimination, and what strong, unaffected interest, they will discuss topics, which, in other countries, are abandoned to mere woodmen or rustic cultivators. I have heard a noble earl descant on park and forest scenery, with the science and feeling of a painter. He dwelt on the shape and beauty of particular trees on his estate with as much pride and technical precision as though he had been discussing the merits of statues in his collection. I found that he had gone considerable distances to examine trees which were celebrated among rural amateurs'; for it seems that trees, like horses, have their established points of excellence, and that there are some in England which enjoy very extensive celebrity from being perfect in their kind.
4. There is something nobly simple and pure in such a taste. It argues, I think, a sweet and generous nature, to have this strong relish for the beauties of vegetation, and this friendship for the hardy and glorious sons of the forest. There is a grandeur of thought connected with this part of rural economy. It is, if I may be allowed the figure, the heroic line of husbandry. It is worthy of liberal, and free-born, and aspiring men. He who plants an oak looks forward to future ages, and plants for posterity. Nothing can be less selfish than this. He can not expect to sit in its shade nor enjoy its shelter; but he exults in the idea that the acorn which he has buried in the earth shall grow up into a lofty pile, and shall keep on flourishing, and increas
La ŏco on, a Trojan, and a priest of Apollo, who tried to dissuade his countrymen from drawing into the city the wooden horse of the Greeks, which finally caused the overthrow of Troy. When preparing to sacrifice a bull to Neptune, two fearful serpents suddenly rushed upon him and his two sons, and strangled them. His death formed the subject of many ancient works of art; and a magnificent group, representing the father
and his two sons entwined by the two serpents, is still extant, and preserved in the Vatican, at Rome.
'Python, a celebrated serpent that lived in the caves of Mount Parnassus, but was slain by Apollo, who founded the Pythian games in commemoration of his victory, and received, in consequence, the surname Pythius. This, however, was not one of the serpents that destroyed Laocoon.
ing, and benefiting mankind, long after he shall have ceased to tread his paternal fields.
5. Indeed, it is the nature of such occupations to lift the thought above mere worldliness. As the leaves of trees are said to absorb all noxious qualities of the air, and breathe fōrth a purer atmosphere, so it seems to me as if they drew from us all sordid and angry passions, and breathed forth peace and philănthropy. There is a serene and settled majesty in woodland scenery that enters into the soul, and dilates and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations. The ancient and hereditary groves, too, that embower this island, are most of them full of story. They are haunted by the recollections of the great spirits of past ages, who have sought for relaxation among them, from the tumult of arms, or the toils of state, or have wooed the muse beneath their shade.
6. It is becoming, then, for the high and generous spirits of an ancient nation to cherish these sacred groves that surround their ancestral mansions, and to perpetuate them to their descendants. Brought up, as I have been, in republican habits and principles, I can feel nothing of the serv'ile reverence for titled rank, merely because it is titled. But I trust I am neither churl nor bigot in my creed. I do see and feel how hereditary distinction, when it falls to the lot of a generous mind, may elevate that mind into true nobility.
7. It is one of the effects of hereditary rank, when it falls thus happily, that it multiplies the duties, and, as it were, extends the existence of the possessor. He does not feel himself a mere individual link in creation, responsible only for his own brief term of being. He carries back his existence in proud recollection, and he extends it forward in honorable anticipation. He lives with his ancestry, and he lives with his posterity. To both does he consider himself involved in deep responsibilities. As he has received much from those that have gone before, so he feels bound to transmit much to those who are to come after him.
8. His domestic undertakings seem to imply a longer existence than those of ordinary men. None are so apt to build and plant for future centuries, as noble-spirited men who have received their heritages from foregoing ages. I can easily imagine, therefore, the fondness and pride with which I have noticed English gentlemen, of generous temperaments, but high aristo
cratic feelings, contem'plating those magnificent trees, which rise like towers and pyramids from the midst of their paternal lands. There is an affinity between all natures, animate and inanimate. The oak, in the pride and lustihood of its growth, seems to me to take its range with the lion and the eagle, and to assimilate, in the grandeur of its attributes, to heroic and intellectual man.
9. With its mighty pillar rising straight and direct toward heaven, bearing up its leafy honors from the impurities of earth, and supporting them aloft in free air and glorious sunshine, it is an emblem of what a true nobleman should be; a refuge for the weak,—a shelter for the oppressed,—a defence for the defenceless; warding off from them the peltings of the storm, or the scorching rays of arbitrary power. He who is this, is an ornament and a blessing to his native land. He who is otherwise, abuses his eminent advantages ;-abuses the grandeur and prosperity which he has drawn from the bosom of his country. Should tempests arise, and he be laid prostrate by the storm, who would mourn over his fall? Should he be borne down by the oppressive hand of power, who would murmur at his fate?" WHY CUMBERETH HE THE GROUND?" IRVING.
146. GOD'S FIRST TEMPLES.
HE groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned
All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed
And inaccessible Majesty. Ah! why
Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect
God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore
Only among the crowd, and under roofs
That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least,
Offer one hymn; thrice happy, if it find
Father, thy hand
Hath reared these venerable columns: thou
Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down
All these fair ranks of trees. They in thy sun
Here are seen
No traces of man's pomp or pride; no silks
The boast of our vain race to change the form
That run along the summits of these trees
In music; thou art in the cooler breath,
That, from the inmost darknèss of the place,
Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground, The fresh, moist ground, are all instinct with thee. 4. Here is continual worship; nature, here,
In the tranquillity that thou dost love,
Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs,
Of all the good it does.
Thou hast not left
Thyself without a witness, in these shades,
Of thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace,
In all the proud old world beyond the deep,
Wears the green coronal of leaves, with which
6. My heart is awed within me, when I think
Lo! all grow old and die but see, again,
One of earth's charms
Oh! there is not lost
upon her bosom yet,
After the flight of untold centuries,
The freshness of her far beginning lies,
Makes his own noŭrishment. For he came forth