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birth was long, long, before the foundation
• of the world was laid; and before Time was,
Thou art! It is a truth which all Nature, animate and inanimate, breathless and breathing, cries aloud. And before an unregenerate world, and evil institutions had corrupted it, pure and fresh as in thy celestial prime, thou didst take up thine early dwelling in the yet unpolluted soul of Arthur Plantagenet.
Ile had lov'd once-he bad lov'd many a time
Alas! when was it that he did not love ?
Rock by sea-shore or mountain ; and above
All-all-- from the sweet flower and gentle dove
To me, that time, those feelings, in this world at least, will never return. ever return hereafter?-Or, is
doom that of the fallen angels? -“the erring spirits who can ne'er return." I ask, but ask in vain; and I rave as well as drivel. at least attempt to explain myself.
Although I in the general do, as I needs
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 have 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
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