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The season was the childhood of sweet June,
Whose sunny hours from morning until noon
Went creeping through the day with silent feet,
Each with its load of pleasure, slow yet sweet.

SHELLEY.

EVENINGS IN ARCADIA.

PROLOGUE.

In this busy, if not wise age, when mind and body are overworked, it is necessary for those who value their intellectual freedom, and wish to retain a childlike and happy spirit, to escape occasionally from the beaten track of their daily toil, and to live under the eye of nature, and in the pleasant interchange of joyous thoughts.

I had never felt more weary of study, or more eager for a sea-change, than during last summer. Having been shut up in London for several months in one of those quiet streets that adjoin the British Museum, and having vainly searched a number of time-worn manuscripts for information on a subject which was then occupying my sole attention, I became utterly jaded with the useless effort, and longed for the repose and freshness of the country. Woods, mountains, streams, and above all the ocean, seemed to call upon me with their mystic voices to leave the dreary city, and to revel in the beauty and glory from which I had so long been separated. In my sleep I dreamed of waterfalls, I wandered by the side of mountain rivulets, I listened to the soothing whispers of the pine trees, or stretched myself in solitude and joy on the wild sea beach. Sometimes the waves would come up wooingly towards me with a gentle murmur; sometimes they

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would dash in large breakers over the jagged rocks, and fall with a noise like thunder. At such moments I awoke; and then the rattling of a cab across the stones, or the wind running riot in the chimney, destroyed my happy illusion, and reminded me that I was still in the heart of the Great Babel. I must go into the country, I said to my landlady; and she, good soul! having never been beyond Margate in her life, wondered at my peripatetic vagary, deeming that the height of bachelor felicity was to be found in the pleasant apartments which I occupied on her first floor.

So having resolved to make an excursion, I walked to Charles Street to call on my friend STANLEY, and to ask him to take up his knapsack and accompany me on a pedestrian excursion. I found that he had been ill, and was still under medical treatment. He told me that his physician had recommended him to spend some weeks quietly at the sea-side, and that he had written to our friend HARTLEY, who was living at Lynton, in North Devon, to inform him of his intended visit to that place.

Why should you not accompany me? he said ; we three can have a pleasant time of it together in that glorious scenery.

The proposition suited me exactly; for in truth I was in the humour for intense idleness, and felt little inclination for the excitement and fatigue of a walking tour.

On the following Monday evening, just as the summer sun was sinking, we descended into the valley of the Lyn, intending to take up our quarters at the Lyndale Hotel. HARTLEY was ready to welcome us when the coach stopped; and, after the first greetings were over, he would have

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