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stealing his onward race, and sinking to his bed of glory, there spread over all, down from the mellow skies, an infinite variety of tints and softening radiance; the light fleecy clouds, tinged with the hues of the rose, were quietly floating, like islands of the blessed, in the calm ocean of heaven, with its vast breast flooded with those tender violet hues so peculiar to that fair climate. Soon, as we cleaved our onward way through the lapis-lazuli depths of the Larian waters, the splendid daylight waned, trembled, and died away midst the golden waves of the burning west; and then, from out her silver palaces, rose serenely the pale Empress of Heaven, gleaming sweetly through the soft airs of the Italian night, and trembling over the domes and towers of Como; then, glimmering over the twilight lake, appeared the sparkling train of her myriad attendant maids of light, pursuing their brilliant track over the vast sapphire fields of the Empyrean; down upon us sparkled, with inconceivable lustre, their brilliant eyes, the beams scintillating in the water in long wavering streams of fire, like the loops of diamonds entangled in the hair of some Eastern maiden, In such hours as those, ever glowing in memory's page, oh, what a pure, buoyant happiness fills the soul!-surely a foretaste of a better existence. He must be less than human who could gaze without emotion upon that column of moonlight, brightly slumbering in the darkening bosom of that halcyon lake, expanded, so wild, broad, and beautiful.
Above, as we have said, were spread over us, like a jewelled canopy, the star-bedropped skies, glowing with the same brilliant lustre that they shed over the plains of old Chaldea and their shepherd-worshippers in the early ages of the infant world. How marvelled they then, standing in awe and wonder, gazing on the rolling orbs of heaven!-those mighty spheres that gem Infinity! Ages have passed by, yet still men wonder and conjecture their far secrets. Oh! ye brilliant worlds empearling the forehead of the skies! why may not man penetrate your distant mysteries, and learn if between your poles there exist hearts as rugged and vengeful as do war and hate, in this dark economy of fallen Earth? or if there be bosoms as tender that glow in love's beaming smile, living in blissful harmony and unison of heart, in your bright everlasting realms of joy and peace, and yet (if there be such in those distant seas of space) who must doubtless look down from their own bright homes of a higher and better life, upon the far faintly-sparkling world of fallen Earth, and marvel that the abode and birth-place of sin and darkness be not struck from its orbit and whirled to eternal doom?
For our own part, that which renders the joy of travel more especially appreciable, is the keen contrast and the sudden change experienced upon leaving the pestiferous, pea-soup atmosphere of London, and its farcical society (which latter, in fact, resolves itself into one large lie in motion), for the free, untrammelled existence which falls upon us as, with the wide fields and boundless oceans of earth in our front, we pursue our own wild impulsive track across them. And then, as we are commanding the enjoyment of the bright ideal-the soul of life-which is born from the embraces of Imagination and Nature; and again, as we dive with observant faculties through the thoroughfares of the foreigner,
* Lacus Larius, the ancient name for the Lake of Como.
gleaning as we go, ever alive to the least as to the greatest truths of existence, descending even to what critics will call the ephemeral and the trifling (yet the true neophyte at Nature's shrine finds beauty and wonder alike in the meanest animalcule, and the unnumbered systems which roll their eternal course along the sapphire fields of heaven); we then look back, and reflect upon the life we have passed in cities, where all that is natural and pure is ignored, and, like a rank weed on the surface of a noisome pool, there floats onthe bosom of society but a hideous mockery of the mental art that shapes the Beautiful and the desires that seek the Perfect. To imbue with yet stronger colourings the daubed and gaudy phantasm of the London season, let us consider, for instance, a ball-room or a dancing party, which is the very wheel of the social treadmill. To a philosophic and steadily-thinking individual, with all his senses and purely natural and rational faculties developed, who quietly meditates as to the end of his existence, and the "why he was born?" and as tranquilly forms the conclusion "that he is born to worship all that is bright, pure, and exalted in existence," the following apparition will naturally excite in his mind an impulse of violent consternation and affright: Chandeliers and fiddles; magnificent beaux in moustaches, so waxed out on either side of their cheeks, that they are almost compelled to go through the door sideways, kicking about in varnished pumps, which, in their tightness, squeeze all the blood up in their faces, the lank hair damp with perspiration, while the enpumped shanks are prancing, capering, and bounding about the room; the expression of the countenances, midst all this extraordinary display, being at once wrapt in the deepest repose and serenity, gradually producing the conviction that the individuals are performing one of the most serious functions of their lives, and are not resolving in the utmost of their ability to discover how nearly the human subject may be brought to resemble an electrified baboon. We are born to adore the beautiful, to exalt the soul, to purify the intellect, in order that our superiority over the mere animal may be recognized: so says the philosopher. Then surely it is being brought about in a most remarkable manner, if this is the process employed. And shall we not groan in our soul's depth for the lamentable state of our species, and mourn that they should sink to a far lower condition than the beasts of the field? who having no intellect, are not responsible for the extravagance of their actions, and yet who do not collect together in crowds, to grin and chatter and perspire throughout the live-long watches of the night, when all nature is hushed by its Creator to rest, confidently believing at the same time they are as contented and as happy as if these midnight orgies, these purgatorial social rites and diabolisms were the chief aim and object of an immortal soul. What does it all mean? Is it not utter waste of time, health, and intellect? There can be gained and stored no information excepting the absurdity of the whole and the wild distraction and confusion of ideas effectually prevents the imparting of any. Midst the din the glare, and the vortex, the senses are so shattered into innumerable fragments, which, while the roar of the tumult lasts, can never be concentrated into any single focus by an observing mind at all influenced by outward impressions. Firstly, there is the endeavouring not to cut friends, and the looking daggers and unutterable things at enemies, to be attended to, as they all convulsively
whirl past upon the space a four-penny piece might cover, in a steaming and reeking crowd, carrying with them their suffocating atmosphere of carbonic-acid gas; then there is the misery of seeing people whose minds and capabilities are so limited that the only food for social converse is the grossest abuse of their neighbours, as with the scornful lip and sardonic grin they "talk at the objects of their censure around them. This sense of misery inflicted upon all right-minded people gives rise then to an opposite sense to combat it-that of the necessity of anathe matizing them back again severally, separately, and collectively, in selfdefence; for it is society's duty in every way to protect itself against its enemies, being at the same time opposed to any infringement upon the liberty of the subject. A man may chew the cud of envy and malice at home, but should cease when he mingles with his kind, or he must be looked to as a dangerous person, in the same manner that the office of the magistrate protects the public peace from danger, and public morality from open violation. While the drunkard or debauchee conceals the indulgence of his propensities from the public eye and public ear, by keeping within the limits of his own domicile, his conduct, however disgraceful to himself and injurious to his family connexions, comes not under the cognizance of the magistrate. It is only when he comes forth into the public streets, and makes the path or road along which all have a right to pass freely and without obstruction or offence the place for his vicious indulgences, that the law steps in and removes him from the spot where he is creating a hindrance, or producing or endangering a tumult, to a place of safety, and fines or imprisons him for the offence. Ignorance and folly walk handin-hand through the tangled mazes of polite and unmeaning gabble of the salon. All seem to be at chronic war with all, with battle, murder, and sudden death beaming from every eye, which is rendered filmy, pale, and plover-egg-ish by habitual dissipation, languor, unwholesome air, Surpentine and Thames; like the eyes of those birds who feed upon the dead. Where is the plausibility of, and where the excuse for all this fury, heat, and violent exertion of a mob crammed together like herrings in a barrel, into those exhausted receivers, jocularly called salons, in the very heart of midsummer heat? 'Tis too surely destructive alike to clothes, health, and to temper.
What a world of curious researches and results might be made upon the analysis of the surrounding and tangible air breathed and rebreathed again and again! Certainly it might easily be taken up in a spoon, enclosed as a specimen in an envelope, and sent off to a country cousin, to awe, astonish, and warn as to what lengths, what martyrdom the Beau Monde will submit, in order to exhibit their superiority over the poor benighted vulgar pagans of the country. A degree of admiration, however, is due, in all justice, to the stoical endurance, composure, and the unmoved muscle, worthy of the martyrs of old, with which the said Beau Monde toss off nightly their repeated doses of ball-champagne. They breathe heavily, their cheeks pale, their eyes dim; yet no further trace of emotion or effects of the poison is permitted by the iron will of those who thus sacrifice themselves for the cause.
Why is all this? What is all this? Whence is it all? Wherefore is this dread punishment endured, this social tread-mill? What more than the general amount of natural and daily evil have these poor prisoners
done, to be condemned to such three-months' Black-hole-in-Calcutta-like confinement with hard labour? Goodness gracious, and gracious goodness!! How different the results left upon the various minds of individuals, according to their mental constitution! The young fledgling just spreading his wings from his college nest, and preparing to take his first flight into the great void of society, looks to the ball-room just as people look to Heaven as a place of unknown happiness, to which they hope eventually to go. To more seasoned minds the ball-room, the "menagerie" of society, is a model of all that poets have ever imagined of the infernal regions: humanity is congregated in masses; vice is reacted upon itself, festers, and becomes ghastly; 'tis like "Norfolk Island," a most terrible picture of human beings in the last stage of unnecessary degradation. To make a real and genuine acquaintance in such places with any one single individual, is as impossible as it is absurd to suppose that one iota of any one's true character can be found or even guessed at; where no one ever says a word that he means, or means a word that she says; where all craft (and very crafty they generally are) are sailing under false colours; where every petty and malignant passion is called into play; where all is hollow as the bubble which floats gaudily for a moment and bursts, and as gaily deceitful as the fair seeming exterior of the apple of Sodom, containing naught but dust and ashes. In fact, no one thinking person, who really takes pains to consider the subject can conscientiously arrive at any other conclusion than that a London ball-room (as also the mess-room of certain portions of Her Majesty's cavalry) is an epitome of all that is worthless and unamiable in the great sphere of human life. In the ball-room coquetry, hypocrisy, and gilt-gingerbread manners are the bricks and mortar with which the MENTAL character of its society is composed, and especially erected or "got up" for the night, in the same manner as it manufactures its complexion and builds up its body. Ill-temper, sarcasm, and bitter nature in silk-stockings and black hearts, stalk round the room, concealed under a studied mask of the blandest smiles, enabling all to appear possessed of every virtue, yet being utterly destitute of all. In fact, that very politeness" endowing our civilized society" with so much ease and delicacy, is simply an aggregation of all the mental evils and corruption the human subject is prone to, lurking all the more deeply in the breast when withdrawn from the countenance.
"Eheu! vitium alitur tegendo."
Many a Lothario, puffed-up London belle, and tight-buttoned dragoon may bitterly resent the above, and toads and vipers will fall from their lips, to spit upon and sting the bare remembrance of the author; yet they should bear in mind that strong and sharp as satire may be, it is not so strong as the memory of fools, nor so keen as their resentment. He that has not strength of mind to forgive, is by no means so weak as to forget; and it is much more easy to do a cruel thing, than to say a severe one. Besides, those follies and vices of mankind which are per'mitted to stalk the earth unchecked are but an obstruction of the course of justice and social improvement, being a door opened to betray society and bereave us of those blessings which it has in view; for, as Sterne observes in his thirty-fifth sermon: "It is a strange way of doing honour to God, to screen actions which are a disgrace to humanity."
MY TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS' SALMON FISHING ON THE
(Tuesday, Aug. 24.-Evening, at the Eagles Hotel.)
"Well, Mrs. Pegg, goog evening to you, and what's the news?" "Sir, the man you wrote about-Peter Hughes-is here, if you wish to see him.”
"But first tell me, Mrs. Pegg, is he now considered honest and wish respectable?"
"Yes sure, sir, I never hear anything against him; and I know he is in constant demand of all gentlemen who come to fish, either as an attendant or for flies and fishing-tackle."
"Pray tell him to come in."
(Enter Peter Hughes.)
"Well, Peter the Poacher (?), do you remember me? Would you have known me?"
"Well, indeed, yes sure. Did I not gaff your last eighteen-pound salmon under the Rector's Garden? That was on the 24th of Oct., 1839, the day before one of our fairs, was it not, sir?
"Right, Peter, by Jove! But, Peter, do you remember the war of words, which almost came to blows, I had with you and two other men at the Flat Stream about poaching?"
"But you prevailed, sir, and we submitted, sir. Sure, sir, I was then twenty years younger and less wise. I loved fishing from when I was seven years old; and as they would not let me fish properly, I used to poach a bit-for the fun, rather than the gain of the thing. But when Lord Edward was down here and had the fishery, some years ago, he was very kind to me, and gave me good advice, and told me how much better it would be for me if I would take to flydressing and tackle-making, and engaging myself to gentlemen when needed. And, sir, I took his advice; and, 'tis truth sir, I have never poached since, for I have plenty of other work at my trade, and am much happier in being out with gentlemen in an honest way, than in trying to skulk out of their sight, poaching salmon among the bushes."
"Peter, you are right, and you shall be happy with me for a month. What wages do you expect?"
"Three shillings and sixpence per day, or a pound a week, sir.” "Well, Peter, it is agreed. What's to be done to-morrow ?” "Indeed, sir, as you have seen, the water is very low and brightwe have not had rain this long while you had better try with a trout-rod till rain comes."
"Hang the trout-rod! I will go with you to look at the river. Many alterations, I suppose, after so many years?"
"No, sir, not much changed."
Aye, Peter, you have seen it from day to day, and year after