Abbildungen der Seite

affected by them,-persons in the habit of reasoning deeply and profoundly.

Phys.-In my opinion, profound minds are the most likely to think lightly of the resources of human reason; and it is the pert superficial thinker who is generally strongest in every kind of unbelief. The deep philosopher sees chains of causes and effects so wonderfully and strangely linked together, that he is usually the last person to decide upon the impossibility of any two series of events being independent of each other; and in science, so many natural miracles, as it were, have been brought to light,—such as the fall of stones from meteors in the atmosphere, the disarming a thunder cloud by a metallic point, the production of fire from ice by a metal white as silver, and referring certain laws of motion of the sea to the moon,—that the physical inquirer is seldom disposed to assert, confidently, on any abstruse subjects belonging to the order of natural things, and still less so on those relating to the more mysterious relations of moral events and intellectual natures."

This is a long passage ; and you ought, according to the luck of the old fishermen, to have caught a trout while we were reading it. But you are tired of your fruitless toil, and we must walk on. A tough hill is this, but we have several more to climb before we come to the foot of “ Thorp-Cloud ;' yet there are many pleasant sights to refresh us—fields of waving corn, and downy pastures, and hills too steep for cultivation, but where the sheep nibbles the short thymy grass at the very summit, and shews like a speck against the clear sky. “The Izaak Walton ” Inn! This is, indeed, an invitation to anglers. We have unquestionably earned our breakfast by this walk of five miles ; and here is a promise of a land of plenty. Though we are in Cotton's country we shall not imitate his precious example of dispensing with the morning meal, supplying its place with a pipe of " tobacco from London.” If his ghost were to visit the “Izaak Walton” Inn, we would teach him the amenities of the nineteenth century. Heavens ! what a magnificent ham-eggs, fresh from the nests—butter, odoriferous as the thyme upon yonder mountain-coffee, such as we have never tasted, save in Paris, and at a nameless friend's chambers in Paper Buildings-marmalade, and currant preserves-and-oh! we shall die of repletion! And now for Dovedale.

Mr. Watts Russell,—you have done good service to the world in building this prettiest of inns, amidst the wildest scenery which England can boast; and we hold it as a boon to the community, which will cover a multitude of sins, that you have established in this hospitium, (which we would gladly make our domicile for weeks,) your late most excellent cook, who has a more perfect sense of the wants of contemplative and elegant-minded travellers, like ourselves, than any host it has been our fortune to meet. But you have committed grievous offence against good taste, in this your domain of Dovedale. We grant that

your manerial rights give you a legal power to make fish-dams, in the shape of artificial cascades, upon which you have doubtless consulted the proprietors of Vauxhall Gardens, and of other cockney places of resort; and we dare say you are saved some little trouble by locking the gates on the right bank of the river, while the left, over

which your rights of property extend not, is open to the wanderers without controul, as such a place of beauty ought to be. But why have you profaned this vale of peace, where nature has heaped up the rocks and crags in the most solemn forms, as if to call the heart to worship “in a temple not made by hands”—why have you profaned this glorious retreat, shut out as it were from a world over which man has the petty mastery, to lift up the soul to the Eternal Spirit of all created things, by exhibiting the impress of his power in the unchangeable masses of gigantic stones, that have stood upon this river's brink, since the hills were torn asunder by some terrific convulsion, and the sparkling stream first rushed through the mighty chasm-why have you profaned this monument of the grand workings of the God of nature, and deformed a scene amidst which man ought only to move with reverence and peacefulness,—by your hateful proclamations, meeting the eye at every turn, of the legal punishments that await the trespassers upon your purchased privileges ? What trespass can the few lovers of the sublime of scenery, who come to this dale from the distant towns, and by no frequented road, commit upon the barren hills and solitary rocks that bound your domain, compared with the trespass which you are perpetrating upon their calm and happy feelings, by this unnecessary parade of the rights of property? Take down your boards, Mr. Russell; place them in the gardens and shrubberies of Ilam as thick as you please :—but allow us to look up the long vista of rocks and woods, and abandon our hearts to the tranquillizing influence of this most perfect solitude, without having a thought of the gamekeeper and the attorney;, let us hear the chorus of a thousand thrushes, pouring out the full note of harmony from the overflowings of their happiness, without recollecting that the world is full of beings in whom the spirit of enjoyment is dead, and who burrow their way amongst their riches, while the sun shines, and the breeze blows, in vain for them; - let us believe, while the wild-rose sends forth its most honied perfume through every nook of this wild and solemn valley, that the whole earth is not yet under the dominion of a false refinement, and that we may flee to the mountains, and to the secluded rivers, with the intention to commune with our own hearts, and to be still, without the voice of the proud one scaring us from our vision of peace.

But we are forgetting our fishing. The truth is, gentle reader, we did not lead you to the Dove with any hope that you might be fortunate in bringing to basket any of the descendants of the pet trouts of Cotton. The fish, they told us, have fled the dale since the dams have been put down; and thus the fair face of nature has been spoilt, without any benefit to the kitchens of Ilam. So, if you please, wind up your line, unjoint your rod, and sit down with us a few minutes longer, to Sir Humphrey Davy. This is a pleasant story about a mermaid :

A worthy baronet, remarkable for his benevolent views and active spirit, has propagated a story of this kind, and he seems to claim for his native country the honour of possessing this extraordinary animal ; but the mermaid of Caithness was certainly a gentleman, who happened to be travelling on that wild shore, and who was seen bathing by some young ladies at so great a distance, that not only genus but gender were mistaken. I am acquainted with him, and have had the story from his own mouth. He is a young man, fond of geological pursuits, and one day in the middle of August, having fatigued and heated himself by climbing a rock to examine a particular appearance of granite, gave his clothes to his Highland guide, who was taking care of his poney and descended to the sea. The sun was just setting, and he amused himself for some time by swimming from rock to rock, and having unclipped hair and no cap, he sometimes threw aside his locks, and wrung the water from them on the rocks. He happened the year after to be at Harrowgate, and was sitting at table with two young ladies from Caithness, who were relating to a wondering audience the story of the mermaid they had seen, which had already been published in the newspapers : they described her as she usually is described by poets, as a beautiful animal, with remarkably fair skin, and long green hair. The young gentleman took the liberty, as most of the rest of the company did, to put a few questions to the elder of the two ladiessuch as, on what day and precisely where this singular phenomenon had appeared. She had noted down, not merely the day, but the hour and minute, and produced a map of the place. Our bather referred to his journal, and showed that a human animal was swimming in the very spot at that very time, who had some of the characters ascribed to the mermaid, but who laid no claim to others, particularly the green hair and fish's tail; but being rather sallow in the face, was glad to have such testimony to the colour of his body beneath his garments.

“Poier. But I do not understand upon what philosophical principles you deny the existence of the mermaid. We are not necessarily acquainted with all the animals that inhabit the bottom of the sea ; and I cannot help thinking there must have been some foundation for the fable of the Tritons and Nereids.

" Hal. Ay; and of the ocean divinities, Neptune and Amphitrite ! “ Poiet. Now I think you are prejudiced.

• Hal. I remember the worthy Baronet, whom I just now mentioned, on some one praising the late Sir Joseph Banks very highly, said, “Sir Joseph was an excellent manbut he had his prejudices. What were they? said my friend. Why, he did not believe in the mermaid.' Pray still consider me as the Baronet did Sir Joseph-prejudiced on this subject.

“ Orn. But give us some reasons for the impossibility of the existence of this animal.

HAL. Nay, I did not say impossibility; I am too much of the school of Izaak Walton to talk of impossibility. It doubtless might please God to make a mermaid ; but I do not believe God ever did make a mermaid.

“ Orn. And why?

“ HAL. Because wisdom and order are found in all his works, and the parts of animals are always in harmony with each other, and always adapted to certain ends consistent with the analogy of nature; and a human head, human hands, and human mammæ, are wholly inconsistent with a fish's tail. The human head is adapted for an erect posture, and in such a posture an animal with a fish's tail could not swim; and a creature with lungs must be on the surface several times in a dayand the sea is an inconvenient breathing place; and hands are instru

[ocr errors]

ments of manufacture-and the depths of the ocean are little fitted for fabricating that mirror which our old prints gave to the mermaid. Such an animal, if created, could not long exist; and, with scarce any locomotive powers, would be the prey of other fishes formed in a manner more suited to their element. I have seen a most absurd fabrication of a mermaid exposed as a show in London, said to have been found in the Chinese seas, and bought for a large sum of money. The head and bust, of two different apes, were fastened to the lower part of a kipper salmon, which had the fleshy fin, and all the distinct characters, of the salmo salar."

And now that, “Salmonia' in hand, we have taken our social walks by the side of the Lea and the Dove, we must endeavour to find a little sport for you, even in these degenerate days of angling. But we shall be blind guides; and the only points upon which we can speak with any confidence of the art, are these : 1st. That if you catch no fish you may obtain a great deal of fresh air and content by making the attempt once or twice in the summer ; and 2dly. That it will give a particular relish to success, if you be successful, and wonderfully dull the eilge of disappointment, if the contrary be your fate, (which all good spirits avert,) if you never take punt (for we recommend that as the easiest mode of exercise) without stowing therein a sufficient basket of ham, tongue, veal pie, stilton-cheese, bottled ale and porter, port, sherry, moselle, claret, brandy, and cigars. You may have two companions—more are troublesome,-and, above all, secure a sharp and ready fellow, as boatman, who, for an extra shilling, will let you into a few of the secrets of the Thames. You are going to fish for gudgeon, and roach, and dace, and perch even, if they should happen to bite. Do not be discouraged that Sir Humphrey Davy speaks slightingly of this pursuit, for assure yourself it is the only fishing left you.

If you reach as far as Windsor, you will walk down to the bridge, where you may espy a clean elderly man with a flower in his mouth; accost him. It is Jack Hall, well known to every Eton boy from the days of Canning; and who will tell you more queer stories about some of the mightiest in the land, than any auto-biographymonger from Michael Kelly to Mr. Ebers. It is said that he is writing his reminiscences” for Colburn. He will make an appointment with you for the next inorning at Bray-reach, where a chaise will convey you to breakfast. Jack is ready with his punt and his easy bow, familiar but not impudent. You begin to fish, the well of the punt gradually fills, and you forget that the gudgeons are not more than three times as large as white bait, and cease to sigh for trout of ten pounds. Jack will tell you there have been only two caught this summer between Maidenhead-bridge and Staines. Bless us ! it is only eleven o'clock, and you are particularly hungry, even after such a breakfast. What an inviting nook for luncheon is that little creek, where the willows make a natural bower of the most impervious shade. The cheese and the porter are beyond measure excellent. But no time must be lost. At three o'clock you have caught forty dozen; and Jack will tell you how they are to be cooked. You land at Monkey Island ; and while you are examining the sketches of monkeys on the dilapidated walls of the old banqueting room (from which, by the bye, all the designers of “Monkeyana" have been pillaging without acknowledgment), Jack is busy in preparing your fry. He is a better cook than Walton, and will, moreover, troll you a merry song, as well as the merriest of Walton's friends. Had you any notion that gudgeon were so fine? and is not the sherry cool, from the judicious application of a little Thames' water? and the flavour of that ham-does it leave a wish for venison ? And thus you laugh—and sing-and burn your cigars-till it is sunset before you are aware ; and you glide down the Thames to sweeter music than ever Cleopatra listened to—for one of you is a flute-player.


“ Do I not feel a burning glow

Steal o'er my cheek when he appears ?
Do not his parting words bestow

A secret pang too deep for tears?
Have not the dreams, which Love endears

Each calmer joy and hope removed?-
Oh! no;-my griefs, my doubts, my fears,

Alone have vanished since I loved,
Since, like the dove of peace, content
Was to my troubled bosom sent.
He leaves me, yet I weep not;—no!

I court no cause for fruitless pain ;
True as the light of day, I know

That he will come to me again.
And months may pass,—nay years,-in vain,

Before our bridal torch shall burn ;
And would you have me still complain,

And mar with tears his loved return ?
Nay! dearest, nay !-calm, patient love,
Nor grief should tire, nor absence move.
Mark you


A fringe of ancient elms? 'Tis there
He dwells. And when I gaze, as now,

I gather from the summer air
Tidings of him, and promise fair

Of days when that dear home will hold
Each breathing thing that moves my care

In one secure and sacred fold!
Say, then, -should wayward melancholy
Mingle with hopes so sweet, so holy?

« ZurückWeiter »