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travelled along that dreary moor, with the cutting wind in my face, and my feet sinking in the snow, or sliding on the hard blue ice beneath it—as cheerfully as I ever walked in the dewy warmth of a summer morning, through fields of fragrance and of flowers. And now I could discern, within half an hour's walk before me, the spire of the church, close to which stood the manse of my aged friend and benefactor. My heart burned within me as a sudden gleam of stormy sunlight tipt it with fire-and I felt, at that moment, an inexpressible sense of the sublimity of the character of that
greyheaded shepherd who had, for fifty years, abode in the wilderness, keeping together his own happy little flock."
66 And here is another of a summer-storm in the Highlands still more highly wrought; indeed, so very poetical, that the language in several places has all the sweetness and rhythm of verse.
“ An enormous thunder cloud had lain all day over Ben-Nevis, shrouding its summit in thick darkness, blackening its sides and base, wherever they were beheld from the surrounding country, with masses of deep shadow, and especially flinging down a weight of gloom upon that magnificent Glen that bears the same name with the mountain, till now the afternoon was like twilight, and the voice of all the streams was distinct in the breathlessness of the vast solitary hollow. The inhabitants of all the straths, vales, glens, and dells, round and about the monarch of Scottish mountains, had, during each successive hour, been expecting the roar of thunder and the deluge of rain; but the huge conglomeration of lowering clouds would not rend asunder, although it was certain that a calm blue sky could not be restored till all that dreadful assemblage had melted away into torrents, or been driven off by a 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 darkness— and paused to hear the long loud rattle of heaven's artillery shaking the foundation of the everlasting mountains. But all was yet silent.
“ The peal came at last, and it seemed as if an earthquake 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 resounding 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.”
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 his tory, 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 prepare 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 illustrations 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