« VorigeDoorgaan »
ing energy of the man of business indescribably transcend the fancied shrewdness of the speculator—that it is base to make marriage a mere matter of money—that happiness is not attendant in conjugal alliances induced by the love of gain—that worldly honour is often degrading and destructive to the dearest interests of its pursuer—that pain and pleasure are, as Addison remarks, "such constant yoke-fellows, that they either make their visits together, or are never far asunder”—and that kind feelings may be indiscreet and excessive, appear to me to be axioms which none can slight without injury, or observe without advantage; and which, consequently, can neither be too fully illustrated, nor too strongly recommended,
Under this impression I have written, with what effect the editor of the Spirit and Manners of the Age will judge, should he deem my lucubrations of no value, he has full permission to consign them to merited oblivion-should the contrary be his conclusions, they will appeal for themselves to his intelligent readers.
THE MODERN MARTYR.
Hail, mildly pleasing solitude,
In the immediate neighbourhood of the village there are some natural curiosities which attract the notice of the scientific traveller : the chief of which are, an echo, a grotto, and a quarry abounding with fossil remains. Amongst those, over whose minds the light of science has never thown its rays, perhaps there is no object in nature which has excited more astonishment or given rise to a greater number of fabulous stories, than the faithful, yet invisible echo, The poets of antiquity, who were unable to account for it, imagined that it was a nymph in the solitudes of nature, occasionally bewailing her absent lover; and some of the inhabitants of far-famed Britain still believe, that is is a supernatural being responding to the voice of man. But these fanciful conceptions are exploded by the discoveries of philosophy, which have demonstrated, that it is the mere return of articulated sounds, from the singular construction of the place against which the vibrat. ing air strikes.
I have read of some echoes that will repeat the
sounds that are uttered as many as ten, seventeen,
“Echo in other's words her silence breaks,
With mimic sounds and speeches not her own. The next object that engaged my attention was the grotto ; which, if not equal in size to some others that are to be found in different parts of the kingdom, is surpassed by none in its power to awaken the sensibilities of a refined taste. The entrance to it is through an opening in the rock, which appears to have been rent asunder by some tremendous convulsion in nature, and which, being overhung with brambles, and the branches of the trees that grow on the top, assumes an appearance no less awful than grand. As I had no blazing torch, I did not advance farther than the light of heaven penetrated; but I could easily imagine, from the crystallizations which hung round the first compartment, that the sanctum sanctorum of its concealed glory must have been inimitably beautiful.
I now retired from this enchanting spot, which I thought might have afforded, in the days of persecution, a calm retreat to some hallowed band of worshippers, when driven from the public temple into the dens and caves of the earth, to offer up their evening oblations, and sing their midnight hymns of praise, to the God
“Who rules on high," to another scene of wonder, in which I traced the footsteps of justice, and the triumphs of mercy. The quarry, in which lie entombed the remains of many creatures that lived on the earth when Noah was building his ark, is at a considerable distance from the grotto: and though rarely visited by the inhabitants who reside in the village, supplies many curious specimens of fossils to the geologist, who, on descending, rejoices as one who has found á great spoil. After making a small selection, I sat me down to muse on former times : and having a Bible in my pocket, I took it out, and read the account of the deluge, which Moses records in the seventh and eighth chapters of the book of Genesis. « And is it possible," 1 immediately exclaimed, " that with such facts and evidences, man can venture to deny the truth of this part of the Scripture Testimony! Yes ; and so he would, if one rose from the dead to bear witness to it, as he is unwilling to admit the force of any argument in favour of the authenticity and inspiration of the sacred volume.”
Having regaled myself with these sights and sounds, which proclaimed the glory of the great Supreme, I bent my steps towards the village; and as I was sauntering along, I saw the old clerk enter his little wicket gate. I quickened my pace; and
had the gratification of resting myself on the same chair on which he sat, when the light of truth first shed its celestial beams over his darkened mind. His eottage stands about five hundred yards from the parish church. It is built of stone dug out of the quarry which I had just been examining, and is covered with a very neat thatch, with a small stack of chimnies at each gable end. The door is partly concealed by a porch, that was covered with various species of woodbine, which running up on the roof, fell back in hanging festoons on each side of the little gothic windows. The garden presented a most beautiful sight. It was surrounded by an hawthorn hedge, with a few variegated holly trees, about seven feet high, tastefully trimmed at the tops, and standing at equal distances, bearing up the slender honey-suckles that entwined themselves round their stems and branches. Though not large, it was divided into different compartments, and contained an assortment of the various flowers, vegetables, and fruits, that are usually cultivated in our best villages.
The interior of the cottage discovered the same elegance of taste :--the same nice disposition of its different articles of use and embellishment, and seemed from its quietude, the fragrance which pervaded it, and its enchanting appearance, to favour the romantic conceptions of the poets, who have lavished on a rustic scenery the richest colourings of their descriptive pencils.
The old man appeared very anxious that I should examine his curiosities; and lest I should overlook any, he took upon himself the labour of exhibiting them. “Here, Sir, is a silver buckle, which was found by my father fifty-two years ago, when he was ploughing in the homestead, and is