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these merry creatures of God who neither sow nor spin. Hearken to their mutual chatter as they flock amid the branches, and their jubilant hymns as they soar to the sky. Think how sinless they are, and how happy. Apply the lesson of their joyous innocence to your scarred and weary hearts. With pious and loving purposes purge every rankling passion away. And as you return to your wonted abodes the clattering and noisome city shall seem swathed in surrounding peace, and smell sweet, borrowing a grace and charm not its own from the remembered glimpses of the country- the splendor of the grass, the glory of the flower, the wavering carpet of forest and field, the scents of wild thyme and honeysuckle and clover, and the careless melodies with which the winged choirs of the air sprinkle heaven and earth.
On another day we wander in a different direction, and explore the course of a lovely brook through meadow and thicket, through grove and dell; as here it creeps in snakelike noiselessness between the grass; there purls over the pebbles, babbling inarticulate tales of coolness, freshness, purity; again dashes foamily with splash and gurgle among the opposing rocks. Now in its transparent breast it mirrors all that is on its banks, and the clouds that float so far above it. Then it pauses in the hollow of a rocky glen and forms a pool so lucid and spotless that one almost deems that he might bathe his soul there and make it clean. Tracing the crystal truant to its origin on an eminence not remote, we find the fountain so divided by a huge boulder at one half its overflow runs down the westerly side, and finds an oozy death in a morass, while the other half, turned over the easterly side, directly reaches the ocean. Moralizing on this contrasted course and fate, we reflect how frequently two children, starting from the same household, run antagonistic careers, one through vice and sloth to an end of swampy oblivion, the other through hardy virtue and toil to a true success.
But all along the course of the brook, whose brink we tread from its fount to its exit, we notice the charming scenery, the increased vividness and growth of verdure, the coming of birds and cattle to quench their thirst, and the constant lapsing
of the current through all its windings, moment by moment, ever forward toward the irrevocable sea. And we learn the lesson we need, when we sigh, with a resolute purpose to make it so, Oh, that in our lives, as in this brook, use, gayety, beauty, music, and the embraced heaven, might all be conjoined in an unpausing progress toward the attainment of our genuine end!
If the lessons thus far presented belong rather to the soft sentiments of the soul, the poetic side of life, it is because that is where average men, selfish, hard, and careless, most need impression and instruction, and not because Nature is destitute of teachings of a sterner type. The oak, wringing strength out of every gale with which it tugs, answering the storms of successive years by clinging to the stone with a tougher root and meeting the blast with a sturdier breast and raising a stiffer top through the icy sleet; the shore, resisting all encroachments with a firmness that never yields; the cliff, facing all weathers and attacks without flinching: — these show how we ought to meet enemies, withstand temptations, defy every threat and seduction. Very frequent are the occasions in this world, so full of dangers, foes, and allurements, when these more martial exhortations also are needed. Many a coward, many a fickle flutterer, might be benefited by moralizing the examples of the indomitable strength and persistency of Nature. In what tremendous power of selfassertion and unfaltering service the mountains tower before the traveller who muses on their silent speech! Age after age, the cold stars of winter glitter on their heads, the streams rush down their sides, the harvests wave at their feet. The thunder-bolts have splintered their peaks, the rains and frosts have denuded their rocky ribs, the tempests have dashed against their shoulders, for a million years. Yet they lift their steady fronts to the night and the sun, doing their duty with a proud heedlessness or quiet scorn of opposition, in eternal defiance of the torrent, the whirlwind, and the lightning. Should not man, constantly exposed as he is to be beguiled, threatened, assaulted, take the lesson, and, like these adamantine monitors, rooted to the centre by granite
principles of righteousness, serenely lift himself both to the kisses of prosperity and the buffets of adversity, and feel that in the flood of evanescent vanities sweeping around him, character, duty, goodness, and trust are the everlasting landmarks of God!
Nature teaches us a still further lesson when we follow her invitation to the hill-top,- the lesson of elevation above the ignoble ills and compromises of life. In the city, we are apt to be so occupied with the press of affairs, the voices and struggles of men around us, as to be quite absorbed in the cares and attractions of the ordinary level of things, and to lose sight of those grand heights of meditation and virtue whence the vulgar world and all the kingdoms thereof are easily commanded. But, in the country, we can hardly look far in any direction without beholding some eminence that looms in lofty superiority to the subjacent neighborhood. Nature lures us by many a tempting bribe, half-shown, halfconcealed, to climb to her throne and survey the landscape there outspread to view in its sublime dimensions. We cannot long resist, and having once gone, we repeat the visit often till we have thoroughly drunk in the glory of the scene.
Never, never shall I forget the pictures shown to me by the God of Nature, during the past summer, and the emotions awakened by them. Many a time, seated on the granite crown of Mount Kearsarge, gazing abroad on the exquisite and immense panorama of New England, recalling to mind the providential history, the proud names, the free institutions, the splendid hopes and promises of America, my very heart has seemed to grow to the hills and vales and woods and streams and towns and the sky spread above them; and I have felt the noble lesson of patriotism so intensely, that it was no wonder to me that a million men, springing up, with their lives in their hands, to protect their threatened country, had hallowed its whole soil with their martyr dust.
Original religious experiences, too, will not unfrequently be given to the sensitive contemplator who haunts the mountain brow. One such, especially, I recollect. The sun, the great upholsterer of the sky, was busy, that day, coloring the
VOL. LXXXVII. — NEW SERIES, VOL. VIII. NO. III.
changeable drapery with which he had hung and decked his dome. Here, he spread his dazzling fleeces; there, he tinged his floating curtains; yonder, he rolled up his black shrouds of rain and thunder. As I gazed across the valley, on a great slope of forest opposite, a shower, falling through the air, was powdered into the finest mist as it fell; and this, filled with sunshine, became a gauzy iridescence, through which the wavy outline and billows of the woods were shown, tinted with inimitable beauty. I seemed to see the creative Artist at work, delighting himself with the touches of his softest、 brush. If I ever adored God at first hand, it was then. Nor were the words of Jesus Christ forgotten: "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."
There is a most impressive religiousness of the height, to one who lingers there until the day darkens, the features of Nature disappear, and only the starry crown is visible on her dusky brow. The country lies far below our feet, carpeted with the verdant woods, and with stripes of agricultural green and gold, girdled by the horizon, glimmering with sunset and the sea. Here and there a streamlet threads its way in silver; villages, interspersed with church-spires, spot the scene; farmers' boys drive the cattle home; mists begin to collect in the vale, and the domestic roofs lie in shadow, and travel becomes scanty in the roads, and all sounds of human industry cease to be heard. But it is still light where we are, and a warmth breathes around us, long since lost in the damp lowland. As twilight deepens, and scattered lights begin to twinkle in the houses below, and the everlasting stars shine out on high, and our minds are filled with solemn thoughts, every petty interest falls from us. We feel rapt away from the gross earth, and no longer to have any part in its mean things, its hatreds and vanities; we belong to the incomprehensible whole, the eternal laws, the irresistible purposes of the Creator; we feel His fellowship mysteriously embracing us and all things; we cease to be isolated in self-will, struggling in the net of social rivalries, and become reconciled parts in the harmonious plan of the universe of God. Thus the lesson of the hill-top teaches us to strive always to live on
such an elevation of oversight and insight as will make us magnanimous, resigned, and calm.
Again, Nature yields grave instruction, when, in her harvest, she teaches us the duty of service. We can hardly roam forth in the country during the closing summer and early autumn, and confront the hundred interesting spectacles strewn before us in every direction, without feeling, powerfully impressed on our consciences, the duty of making a fit return for what has been spent on us. Many a good man, still on the earth, or, alas! beneath the sod, has shown me favors and kindness whose benefits remain with me yet; shall I be so ungrateful as not to pay the debt? The farmer sows his seed in the ground, nothing doubting. When it sprouts, he weeds and hoes. and carefully nurtures it. In due time it yields him ample returns, some thirty-fold, some sixty-fold, some an hundredfold. Here, shimmer the golden ranks of corn and wave the billows of barley; there, among the wilted vines, protrude the bulging pumpkins and squashes; yonder, the orchard bends under the load of luscious fruit that freights all its boughs; and, abroad in the pastures, the ripe nuts are dropping thick and fast. We at once begin to feel, as we contemplate the teeming harvest, Shall the insensate earth send up such copious proofs of gratitude to the sun and the tiller's hand; and shall we, for whose priceless privileges the ages and nations of the past have travailed, our parents, friends and neighbors have watched and toiled, the laws and institutions of our country have conspired with the gospel of Christ and the Spirit of God, shall we alone be barren cumberers of the ground? No: by all that is becoming, by all that is obligatory, let us, too, bear good fruits of personal worth and of public service, to show that we were not unworthy of the pains taken with us; that we are grateful for the rich favors we enjoy, and that we are determined to transmit all the blessings we have inherited, burnished to new lustre, and joined with additional ones, to the generations which shall come after us! Nature herself, in her rich and glad harvest-show, teaches us this lesson of our duty to bear some handsome and useful fruit.