Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Or rays of the prismatic parroquet,

O let the perfumed breeze

From those Hesperides
Waft thee once more our eager ears to greet!
For, lo! the young leaves flutter in the South,

As if they tried their wings,

While the bee's trumpet brings
News of each bud that pouts its honied mouth;

Blue-bells, yellow-cups, jonquils,

Lilies wild, and daffodils,
Gladden our meads in intertangled wreath:

The sun enamour'd lies,
Watching the violet's

eyes
On every bank, and drinks their luscious breath:

With open lips the thorn

Proclaims that May is born, And darest thou, bird of Spring, that summons scorn? “ Cuckoo! Cuckoo !” O welcome, welcome notes !

Fields, woods, and waves rejoice

In that recover'd voice,
As on the wind its fluty music floats.

At that elixir strain,

My youth resumes its reign,
And life's first Spring comes blossoming again:

O wondrous bird ! if thus

Thy voice miraculous
Can renovate my spirit's vernal prime,

Nor thou, my Muse, forbear
That ecstasy to share,
I laugh at Fortune, and defy old Time.

THE VILLAGE BELLS.

Funera plango; fulgura frango, Sabbata pango,
Excito lentos, dissipo ventos, paco cruentos.
Laudo Deum verum, plebem voco, conjugo clerum,
Defunctos ploro, pestem fugo, festa decoro.

Monkish Inscriptions on Bells. I HAD wandered for a long time, one summer's morning, through the successive copses and thinlywooded glades that constitute the remains of Sherwood Forest, pondering upon the days of old, when their deeper and more extensive shades echoed to the horn of Robin Hood, and that romantic outlaw might have started from the thickets through which I was strolling, clad in Lincoln green and accoutred with bow and arrow, to challenge me for intruding upon his leafy haunts; when I observed that the trees, growing gradually thinner, opened at length upon a small lawn, in the centre of which was a piece of water, dotted along its banks with a few straggling oaks. Throwing myself down upon its margin, I was struck with the marvellous transparency of the limpid element, which resembled a mirror spread out upon the grass, reflecting every object of this sequestered nook with a precision that actually confused apprehension by its very clearness. Never was so perfect a piece of mimicry. The blue depths of heaven, with the rich colours and majestic motion of the slowlysailing clouds, were not only copied in the hemisphere

beneath me, but a goat, that had climbed an overhanging crag by my side, saw himself so perfectly represented below that he made every demonstration of attack with his butting head, as if preparing to leap down upon his shadowy opponent. A squirrel seemed to be running up to me out of the water upon the trunk of a reflected tree, upon whose extreme branches a thrush sat piping, as if singing to me from the bottom of the little lake. Other tenants of the air, as they fluttered above, were seen reflected in the wave beneath; while fishes now and then darted like meteors athwart these commingled birds and boughs and skies, as if the elements and their respective inhabitants were all confused together. As I perused this crossreading of Nature with a complacent admiration, the rising breeze wafted towards me from a neighbouring village the melodious chime of its bells, with the echoes of which I had not only been familiar in my boyish days, but had often stolen into the belfry to awaken them myself, though I never merited the appellation of a scientific ringer. I turned my listless steps towards the church, as the sound died away upon the wind, and again at intervals threw its music upon the air, musing upon the almost-forgotten feelings with which I had listened to the same mellow tones in my childhood,-anticipating the period, now rapidly approaching, when I should lie in the earth beneath them, deaf to their loudest peals--and whispering to myself, in the beautiful words of Moore,

“ That other bards would walk these dells,
And listen to the Sabbath bells ;"-

when I fell into a train of thought upon the great sympathy and connexion that exists between these sonorous chroniclers and the public history of the country, as well as the successive stages and leading incidents of every man's private life.

In the absence of any other national music, let us not disdain to appropriate to ourselves that which is undoubtedly our exclusive property-the art of ringing changes upon church bells, whence England has been sometimes termed “ the ringing island.” Although it be simply a melody, the construction of regular peals is susceptible of considerable science, in the variety of interchange, and the diversified succession of consonances in the sounds produced. Many of them bear the names of their composers, who thus bid fair to be rung down to the latest posterity ; and that the exercise of taking part in a peal has never been deemed an ignoble amusement, is attested by the fact, that we have several respectable associations for practising and perpetuating the art, particularly one known by the name of the College Youths, of which Sir Matthew Hale, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, was, in his youthful days, a member. Exclusively of the delight arising from the melody itself as it floats along, gladdening hill and dale, tower and hamlet, what can be sweeter or more soothing than all the associations of thought connected with a merry peal of village bells ? Announcing the Sabbath-morning-the common day of rest, when we all cease from our toils, they remind us that the húmblest of those whose lot is labour, will now betake themselves in

decent garb and with cheerful looks to the Temple, where all the children of the Great Parent, without distinction of rank, assemble together to offer up

their general thanksgivings. Nothing can be more natural than the words which Cowper has put into the mouth of Alexander Selkirk, to express the desolation and solitude of the uninhabited island on which he had been cast:

- The sound of the church-going bell,

These valleys and rocks never heard ;
Never sigh’d at the sound of a knell,

Or smiled when a Sabbath appear’d.” Of all the public duties which bells are called upon to perform, the most puzzling and embarrassing must be the due apportionment of their fealty to the old and new monarch, when the former—dies, we were going to say,

but kings never die ; -when he ceases to reign, and is under the necessity of laying in the dust the head which has worn a crown. Death is a sad radical: Horace assures us, that even in his days it was a matter of perfect indifference to the ghastly destroyer, whether he aimed his dart at the towers of kings or the hovels of the peasantry; and in these revolutionary times we may be sure that he has lost nothing of his Carbonari spirit. Bells, however, acknowledge the authority of the powers that be; their suffrages obey the influence of the clergy, tolerably shrewd calculators of the most beneficial chances of loyalty, and yet the brazen mourners must sometimes be in a sad dilemma between their sorrow for the loss of the old and their joy at the accession of the new king. Like

« AnteriorContinuar »