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must, admit the doctrine of Locke, as to there being “no innate ideas,” there has appeared to me, something anomalous in the following phenomenon. So far from vice having been, so to speak, the natural prompting of my disposition, I can still recollect my feelings of disgust, of disappointment, nay, of absolute incredulity, when some of the gross vices of my species were first mentioned to me. It seemed strange, revolting; so strange, so revolting, that man was but as the brutes, that long I absolutely would not believe it. In my boy-dream, instead of appearing as kindred to the beasts that perish, he was rather pictured as “only a little lower than the angels." I hare met with so little sympathy from the beings by whom I have been surrounded in the world, that I had no hope ever to find another human mind that could throw light on the unearthly musings of my visioned boyhood. With what delight and surprise then did I first read that extraordinary poem of
Mr. Wordsworth, intitled, “Intimations of Immortality, from Recollections of Early Childhood.” For I might indeed, and in truth say :
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
Oh! how strongly my own memory bore testimony to the following ::
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting :
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
And cometh from afar.
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Upon the growing boy.
And with Wordsworth I can, indeed truly
nothing can bring back the hour
But alas ! for the influence of the world and its institutions, I cannot conclude as he does in a strain of subdued joy, and hope, and thanksgiving. This is no place to enter upon the metaphysical subtleties of the question, even if I possessed inclination and ability to do so; I leave these in order to inform my reader of a circumstance that tended to foster such wayward musings in my boyhood, and by that means perhaps eventually to redeem my character from a few vices; and even when so redeemed it will still have enow to answer for.
When I was a boy, we used occasionally to pass part of the summer at a house which
my father had on one of his estates in Wales. The house was called a hunting, or shooting box, I forget which, nor do I remember whether its vicinity was remarkable either for good hunting or shooting. But one thing I do remember well, that it was remarkable for excellent trout-fishing. Fly-fishing was my favourite sport, and, indeed, during the years of early boyhood, became the ruling passion of my soul.
As I grew older, my ardour for it declined, and never was succeeded in an equal degree by any other of the passions of a sportsman. It is refreshing to my memory, even now, to think of the wild, clear, and rapid streams upon whose borders so many, many hours of my boyhood passed away. The rapid and brawling trout stream with its white-pebbled bottom and brink; the deep, dark, yet clear-coloured salmon pool, with its bank covered with short heathy grass intermixed with mountain wild flowers, and here and there with bright-bloomed and delightfully-smelling furze ;—the red cliff-the grey and moss-clad rock with broom and brushwood springing from its crevices--the very thought of these has been refreshing to my soul when I was far away in other years by the sluggish and muddy waters of the plain. The scenery of the river, which I frequented most, was to me particularly delightful; I
soul. As I
hare fished every stream of it again and again “ from shore to mountain cave;" and on its bank I do not hesitate to say, that I have past some of the happiest hours of my boyhood, perhaps of my life. My time, which was then spent in solitude and involuntary contemplation of all the wonders and beauties of earth and sky, was, without my being aware of it, one poetical dream. In this calm communion with the pure, sublime and beautiful objects of nature, the world continued to be to me fairy land. Its sordid interests and fierce and grovelling passions were things then unknown to me; but they were not long to remain unknown,-and soon, too soon, came a sound that burst my waking dream. Indeed, I might have learnt, even then, from the deceitful appearances and sudden changes of the winds and sky that in this world things are not what they appear.
I began this chapter meaning to speak of love --and may seem to have somewhat wandered