Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

have become familiar enough no longer to obscure its poetry, it will

be found that what I have attempted to do will be done, proportionally to their measure of ability, by travellers generally. In hazard

ing the prediction, I build on the fact, that it is according to the

intellectual nature of man to delight in the metaphor and the simile,

- in pictures of the past and dreams of the future,

in short, in

whatever introduces amid one set of figures palpable to the senses

another visible but to the imagination, and thus blends the ideal

with the actual, like some fanciful allegorist, sculptor, or painter,

who mixes up with his groups of real personages qualities and dispositions embodied in human form, -angelic virtues with wings

growing out of their shoulders, and brutal vices furnished with tails

and claws. And it is impossible, such being the mental constitution

of the species, to see the events of other creations legibly engraved

all around, as with an iron pen, on the face of nature, without let

ting the mind loose to expatiate on those historic periods to which

the record so graphically refers. The geologist in our own country

feels himself in exactly the circumstances of the traveller who jour

neys amid the deserts of Sinai, and sees the front of almost eve

very

precipice roughened with antique inscriptions of which he has just

discovered the key, -- inscriptions that transport him from the silence

and solitude of the present, to a darkly remote past, when the lone

liness of the wilderness was cheered by the white glitter of unnum

bered tents, and the breeze, as it murmured by, went laden with the

cheerful hum of a great people.

It may be judged, I am afraid, that to some of the localities I devoted too much, and to some too little time, in proportion to the

degree of interest which attached to them. The Leasowes detained

me considerably longer than Stratford-on-Avon ; and I oftener refer

to Shenstone than to Shakspeare. It will, I trust, be found, how

ever, that I was influenced in such cases by no suspicious sympathy

with the little and the mediocre ; and that, if I preferred at times

the less fertile to the richer and better field, it has been simply, not

because I failed to estimate their comparative values, but because I

found a positive though scanty harvest awaiting me on the one, and

on the other the originally luxuriant swathe cut down and carried

away, and but a vacant breadth of stubble left to the belated gleaner.

Besides, it is not in his character as a merely tasteful versifier, but Scot and the Presbyterian than is perhaps common with my country

as a master in the art of developing the beauties of landscape, that

I have had occasion to refer to Shenstone. He is introduced to the

reader as the author of the Leasowes,

a work which cost him

more thought and labor than all his other compositions put together,

and which the general reader, who has to prosecute his travels by

the fire-side, can study but at second hand,

as it now exists in

sketches such as mine, or as it existed, at the death of its author,

in the more elaborate description of Dodsley. It is thus not to a

minor poet that I have devoted a chapter or two, but to a fine rural

poem, some two or three hundred acres in extent, that cannot be

printed, and that exists nowhere in duplicate.

It does matter considerably in some things that a man's cradle

should have been rocked to the north of the Tweed; and as I have

been at less pains to suppress in my writings the peculiarities of the

folk and brother Churchmen, the Englishman will detect much in

these pages to remind him that mine was rocked to the north of the

Tweed very decidedly. I trust, however, that if he deem me in the

main a not ill-natured companion, he may feel inclined to make as

large allowances for the peculiar prejudices of my training as he

sees me making on most occasions for the peculiar prejudices of

his ; that he may forgive me my partialities to my own poor coun

try, if they do not greatly warp my judgment nor swallow up my

love for my kind ; that he may tolerate my Presbyterianism, if he

find it rendering a reason for its preferences, and not very bigoted in

its dislikes ; and, in short, that we may part friends, not enemies,

if he can conclude, without over-straining his charity, that I have

communicated fairly, and in no invidious spirit, my First Impres

sions of England and its People.

2

« AnteriorContinuar »