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his father and mother, and feeling the first delighted power of making verses, in scenery fitted to inspire them.
HAPPY the man whose wish and caro
APPY the man whose wish and caro
In his own ground:
Whose herds with milk, whose fields. with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
In winter fire.
Blest who can unconcern’dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mix'd ; sweet recreation;
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Tell where I lie.
bir Bertrand.—1 Fragment.
BY DR, AIKIN.
If we may judge of others' impressions by our own, and have not been led to overrate the merit of this Fragment by early associations, there is nothing perused in boyhood which is of a nature to remain longer in the recollection, or to link itself more strongly with analogous ideas. The tolling bell, the bloody stump of the arm, the lady who addresses the knight "in these words ” (not related), and above all, the “dreary moors” at the commencement, and the light seen at a distance, have recurred, we think, oftener to memory in the course of our life than any other passages in books, with the exception of some in Gray, Spenser, and Arabian Nights. We cannot read them to this day without feeling a sort of thrilling and desolate evening gloom fall upon our mind; nor can we ever see a piece of moorland, or a distant light at the close of day, without thinking of them. The finest poetry has only added to their impression; not displaced it. The “woulds” that Sir Bertrand crosses, are precisely those in which the ear listens at evening to
“ Undescribed sounds,
Dr. Aikin was a writer from whom this effusion was hardly to have been looked for. He was bred in a limited and somewhat formal school of taste, and was no very sensitive critic; but a good deal of enthusiasm was repressed in him by circumstances; and he was brother
of an undoubted and fervid woman of genius, Mrs. Barbauld. There was more in the Aikin family than academical and sectarian connections suffered to come out of it.
IR BERTRAND turned his steed towards the woulds,
hoping to cross these dreary moors before the curfew. But ere he had proceeded half his journey, he was bewildered by the different tracks; and not being able, as far as the eye could reach, to espy any object but the brown heath surrounding him, he was at length quite uncertain which way he should direct his course. Night overtook him in this situation. It was one of those nights when the moon gives a faint glimmering of light through the thick black clouds of a louring sky. Now and then she emerged in full splendour from her veil, and then instantly retired behind it, having just served to give the forlorn Sir Bertrand a wide extended prospect over the desolate waste. Hope and native courage awhile urged him to push forwards, but at length the increasing darkness and fatigue of body and mind overcame him; he dreaded moving from the ground he stood on, for fear of unknown pits and bogs; and alight ing from his horse in despair, he threw himself on the ground. He had not long continued in that posture when the sullen toll of a distant bell struck his ears-he started up, and turning towards the sound, discerned a dim twink ling light. Instantly he seized his horse's bridle, and with cautious steps advanced towards it. After a painful march he was stopt by a moated ditch surrounding the place from whence the light proceeded; and by a momentary glimpse of moon-light he had a full view of a large antique mansion, with turrets at the corners, and an ample porch in the centre. The injuries of time were strongly marked on everything about it. The roof in various places was fallen in, the battlements were half demolished, and the windows
broken and dismantled. A draw-bridge, with a ruinous gate-way at each end, led to the court before the building. He entered; and instantly the light, which proceeded from a window in one of the turrets, glided along and vanished; at the same moment the moon sunk beneath a black cloud, and the night was darker than ever. All was silent.Sir Bertrand fastened his steed under a shed, and approaching the house, traversed its whole front with light and slow footsteps.-All was still as death.—He looked in at the lower windows, but could not distinguish a single object through the impenetrable gloom. After a short parley with himself, he entered the porch, and seizing a massy iron knocker at the gate, lifted it up, and, hesitating, at length struck a loud stroke. —The noise resounded through the whole mansion with hollow echoes.-All was still againhe repeated the strokes more boldly and loudly—another interval ensued—a third time he knocked, and a third time all was still. He then fell back to some distance, that he might discern whether any light could be seen in the whole front. It again appeared in the same place, and quickly glided away as before-at the same instant a deep sullen toll sounded from the turret. Sir Bertrand's heart made a fearful stop—he was a while motionless; then terror impelled him to make some hasty steps towards his steedbut shame stopt his flight; and urged by honour and a resistless desire of finishing the adventure, he returned to the porch ; and working up his soul to a full steadiness of resolution, he drew forth his sword with one hand, and with the other lifted up the latch of the gate. The heavy door, creaking upon its hinges, reluctantly yielded to his handhe applied his shoulder to it, and forced it open-he quitted it, and stepped forward-the door instantly shut with a thundering clap. Sir Bertrand's blood was chilled-he
turned back to find the door, and it was long ere his trembling hands could seize it: but his utmost strength could not open it again. After several ineffectual attempts, he looked behind him, and beheld, across a hall, upon a large staircase, a pale bluish flame, which cast a dismal gleam of light around. He again summoned forth his courage, and advanced towards it. It retired. He came to the foot of the stairs, and after a moment's deliberation ascended. He went slowly up, the flame retiring before him, till he came to a wide gallery. The flame proceeded along it, and he followed in silent horror, treading lightly, for the echoes of his footsteps startled him. It led him to the foot of another staircase, and then vanished. At the same instant another toll sounded from the turret—Sir Bertrand felt it strike upon his heart. He was now in total darkness, and with his arms extended, began to ascend the second staircase. A dead cold hand met his left hand, and firmly grasped it, drawing him forcibly forwards—he endeavored to disengage himself, but could not-he made a furious blow with his sword, and instantly a loud shriek pierced his ears, and the dead hand was left powerless with his—He dropt it, and rushed forward with a desperate valour. The stairs were narrow and winding, and interrupted by frequent breaches, and loose fragments of stone. The staircase grew narrower and narrower, and at length terminated in a low iron grate. Sir Bertrand pushed it open-it led to an intricate winding passage, just large enough to admit a person upon his hands and knees. A faint glimmering of light served to show the nature of the place. Sir Bertrand entered. A deep hollow groan resounded from a distance through the vault. He went forwards, and proceeding beyond the first turning, he discerned the same blue flame which had before conducted him. He followed it. The vault at length suddenly opened