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strong wind from the sea. All the cattle on the hills, and on the hollows, stood still or lay down in their fear,—the wild deer sought in herds the shelter of the pine-covered cliffs—the raven hushed his hoarse croak in some grim cavern, and the eagle left the dreadful silence of the upper heavens. Now and then the shepherds looked from their huts, while the shadow of the thunder-clouds deepened the hues of their plaids and tartans; and at every creaking of the heavy branches of the pines, or wide-armed oaks, in the solitude of their inaccessible birth-place, the hearts of the lonely dwellers quaked, and they lifted up their eyes to see the first wide flash--the disparting of the masses of darknessand paused to hear the long loud rattle of heaven's artillery shaking the foundation of the everlasting moun- . tains. But all was yet silent.

“ The peal came at last, and it seemed as if an earth quake had smote the silence. Not a tree--not a blade of grass moved, but the blow stunned, as it were, the heart of the solid globe. Then was there a low, wild, whispering, wailing voice, as of many spirits all joining together from every point of heaven,-it died awayand then the rushing of rain was heard through the darkness; and, in a few minutes down came all the mountain torrents in their power, and the sides of all the steeps were suddenly sheeted, far and wide, with waterfalls. The element of water was let loose to run its rejoicing race and that of fire lent it illumination, whether sweeping in floods along the great open straths, or tumbling in cataracts from cliffs overhanging the eagle's eyrie.

“ Great rivers suddenly flooded and the little mountain-rivulets, a few minutes before only silver threads, and in whose fairy basins the minnow played, were now scarcely fordable to shepherds' feet. It was time for the strongest to take shelter, and none now would

have liked to issue from it; for while there was real danger to life and limb in the many raging torrents, and in the lightning's flash, the imagination and the soul themselves were touched with awe in the long re. sounding glens, and beneath the savage scowl of the angry sky.

It was not a time to be abroad; yet all by herself was hastening down Glen-Nevis, from a shealing far up the river, a little girl, not more than twelve years of age-in truth, a very child. Grief and fear, not for herself, but for another, bore her along as upon wings, through the storm ; she crossed rivulets from which, on any other occasion, she should have turned back trembling; and she did not even hear many of the crashes of thunder that smote the smoking hills. Sometimes at a fiercer flash of lightning she just lifted her hand to her dazzled eyes, and then, unappalled, hurried on through the hot and sulphureous air. Had she been a maiden of that tender age from village or city, her course would soon have been fatally stopt short ; but she had been born among the hills, had first learned to walk among the heather, holding by its blooming branches, and many and many a solitary mile had she tripped, young as she was, over moss and moor, glen and mountain, even like the roe that had its lair in the coppice beside her own beloved shealing.”

CHAP. XLI.

CYCLES OF LITERATURE.

“ I HAVE often thought," said the Bachelor one evening, “ that there are cycles of particular literature. One age excels in the drama, another in history, another in general poetry, the present seems to be that of novels."

“ And it is natural that it should be so," replied the Nymph. “ After epochs of action and enterprise, in which individual peculiarities are called into impassioned exercise, we should expect the drama to thrive: the history of English literature shows as much. The conflicts of the York and Lancaster wars; the controversies of the Reformation ; the vicissitudes of fortune, arising from the changes induced by them; the struggles and conspiracies of faction; the wrongs done to private affection by the same causes, all combined to pre. pare the way in England for some extraordinary display of dramatic power; and accordingly we find in Shakspeare, and his illustrious contemporaries, such a stupendous store of talent for that species of writing as never was seen at any one period in the world before.

“ The dramatic age was followed by the historical. The compilations in that sort of composition, both in the latter part of Elizabeth's reign, and

throughout the whole of King James the First's time, are still the most valuable and important that have yet been made in English literature. The literature of no other country possesses any thing to be put into comparison with the Chronicles of these kingdoms.

“ After the historical cycle came that of general poetry, the genius of which addressed itself not to the description of scenes or of feelings, but almost exclusively to the associations which constitute the basis of rational knowledge. Pope may be said to have been the chief in this species of composition, and I am not sure that, since his time till the present, the literature of this country has had any decided character, or made any important progress. It has been classical, correct, moral and philosophical, perhaps beyond the attainments of the existing epoch, but it has been general, and, in some respects, I may almost say, featureless. It has consisted rather of compendious views of what had been done and established in preceding times, than of additions to our knowledge respecting the recesses of nature and of passion.

“ We are now, I think, evidently entered into a new cycle. All the past has become, in some degree, obsolete, or is only drawn on to furnish illus trations to characters, possessing something in common with that high state of excitement into which we have ourselves been raised by the vast and wonderful events of the age. The theatre, owing to the general ignorance and conceit of the players, being, in the management, so much under the common level of the taste and knowledge of the time, has gone out of fashion, and the consequence is, that the talent, which would otherwise have been directed in another state of things to furnish the empty stage with life, energy, and truth, is now engaged in providing a similar sort of entertainment in the shape of tales and romances, so highly imbued with poetical ornament, and the emphatic disclosures of sentiment and passion, that they bear scarcely any likeness to the compositions which, during the earlier part of the late reign, were called novels, while they have much of the air and complexion of the works of the old dramatists.

" When this cycle is run out, then we shall have another historical period, and what themes for elo: quence, aphorisms, and description, await the pen of the unborn Humes, and Robertsons, and Gibbons, in the gorgeous calamities and magnificent crimes and enterprises of the Revolutionary war!-a subject in itself, from the beginning to the end, the most complete and epic which the whole history of mankind affords.

“ In the meantime, we may expect to meet with occasional preparatory passages, treated with discrimination and ability, and which will serve the future historian as materials for his « imperial theme.” Of this kind I consider Southey's History of the Peninsular War,—a work, so far as it has gone, highly creditable to his industry and talents, and, indeed, one of the most favourable specimens of narration which has yet appeared on the greatest of subjects; I speak of the whole conflict, of which the peninsular war, like the Egyptian expedition, can only be considered as a chapter.”

“ I have not yet read his volume, “said Benedict,"

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