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ing mists, setting on fire, as it were, their upper parts, while their lower skirts are lost in a dark mass of varied confusion, in which trees, and ground, and radiance, and obscurity are all blended together. A strong sunshine striking a wood through some fortunate chasm, and reposing on the tuftings of a clump, just removed from the eye, and strengthened by the deep shadows of the trees behind, appears to great advantage ; especially if some noble tree flings athwart the sky its dark branches, here and there illuminated with a splendid touch of light.
“ We know not whether the rising or setting of the sun is the most picturesque. The great beauty of both depends on the contrast between splendour and obscurity. The grandest effects of the rising sun are produced by the vapours which envelope it. The setting sun rests its glory on the gloom which often accompanies its parting rays.
A distant forest scene under this brightened gloom is particularly rich, and glows with double splendour: the verdure of the summer leaf and the varied tints of the autumnal one are all lighted up with the most resplendent colours.
“ When the tempest scowls over the forest as we traverse its deep recesses, what grandeur do the internal parts of it. receive from the casual ray darting upon them! Or when we view it as a distant object, and see the storm blackening behind the trees, with what wonderful effect does the sun, in an opposite direction, strike their tufted heads ! But if the sun be setting while the tempest is brewing over the hemisphere, black towards the east, lurid, more purple, and glowing with red as it advances towards the west,—then it is that the utmost value is given to its effect. The castle, the lake, or the forest scene, whether viewed in shadow against the ruddy light, or illumined under the storm, appear in full grandeur. I know no appearance in Nature that is more awfully grand than the conjunction of a storm and a sunset on some noble mass of scenery. The grandeur of Jehovah is commonly represented
by the Hebrew writers behind a cloud. In spring the bloom of many trees, gay and fantastic in colouring, are beautiful, and we see tints which produce a pleasing effect: among oaks, the bud of one is a tender green ; of another, almost yellow; of a third, an ochre-brown, perhaps nearly inclining to red ;yet each of these, as it opens, will probably accord harmoniously with the tint of its neighbour.”
" These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs,
Uniting their close union; the woven leaves
As shapes in the wierd clouds." There is no doubt but that Mr. Gilpin possessed a keen perception of the beautiful in forest scenery ; but the work has many drawbacks which the able editor has very justly censured. The author will scarcely admit that the hawthorn is either pleasing or interesting : he also calls in the aid of art (too often in my humble opinion) to put a finishing hand to the scenery. Nature is ever beautiful: all her works are lovely, from a blade of grass to the giant oak: this Mr. Gilpin well knew and appreciated, in spite of all his empty parade of criticism.
The nightingale may be heard during this month, singing in the woods, or some shady clump of trees: she loves the haunts of Nature—the deep woodland solitude, from whence she sends her full clear voice far and wide over the listening valleys until "silence is pleased.” How sweet is it to wander into the leafy avenue of some old grove, to sit upon the mossy stem of some hoary tree, and listen to her sweet pipings until we drop into forgetfulness of the world “ as the nightingale drops into the bosom of the rose !” How clearly her voice rings upon the starry night, in all its loud, mellow, and rich silveriness! Then to hear a band of nightingales singing together in the stilly silence, is to catch the sound of all we ever imagine of the music of heaven. The following poem by John Keats to the
Nightingale is perhaps the most beautiful that ever was written.
ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE.
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk :
In some melodious plot
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sun-burnt mirth!
And purple-stained mouth ;
And with thee fade away into the forest dim ;
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,-
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
And leaden-eyed despairs ;
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards :
Already with thee! Tender is the night,
But here there is no light,
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
And mid-May's eldest child,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen ; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death
in many a mused rhyme,
In such an ecstasy !
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird !
No hungry generations tread thee down : The voice I bear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown ;
The same that oft-times hath
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn !—the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self !-Adieu ! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf! Adieu ! adieu !—Thy plaintive anthem fades Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hill-side ; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades : Was it a vision, or a waking dream ?
Fled is that music !-Do I wake or sleep?"