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FLIGHT THIRD-STILL LIFE.
We have been sufficiently slaughterous for a man of our fine sensibilities and moderate desires, Hamish; and as, somehow or other, the scent seems to be beginning not to lie well—yet the air cannot be said to be close and sultry either—we shall let Brown Bess cool herself in both barrels—relinquish, for an hour or so, our seat on Shelty, and, by way of a change, pad the hoof up that smooth ascent, strangely left stoneless—an avenue positively looking as if it were artificial, as it stretches away, with its beautiful green undulations, among the blocks; for though no view-hunter, we are, Hamish, what in fine language is called a devout worshipper of Nature, an enthusiast in the sublime; and if Nature do not show us something worth gazing at when we reach yonder altitudes, she must be a grey deceiver, and we shall never again kneel at her footstool, or sing a hymn in her praise.
The truth is, we have a rending headache, for Bess has been for some hours on the kick, and Surefoot on the jog, and our exertions in the pulpit were severeaction, Hamish, action, action, being, as Demosthenes said some two or three thousand years ago, essential to oratory; and you observed how nimbly we kept changing legs, Hamish, how strenuously brandishing arms, throughout our discourse-saving the cunning pauses, thou simpleton, when, by way of relief to our auditors, we were as gentle as sucking-doves, and folded up our wings as if about to go to roost, whereas we were but meditating a bolder flight-about to soar, Hamish, into the empyrean. Over and above all that, we could not brook Tickler's insolence, who, about the sma' hours, challenged us, you know, quech for quech; and though we gave him a fair back-fall, yet we suffered in the tuilzie, and there is at this moment a throbbing in our temples that threatens a regular brain-fever. We burn for an air-bath on the mountain-top. Moreover, we are seized with a sudden desire for solitude—to be plain, we are getting sulky; so ascend, Surefoot, Hamish, and be off with the pointers—O'Bronte goes with usnorth-west, making a circumbendibus round the Tomhans, where Mhairhe M‘Intyre lived seven years with the fairies; and in a couple of hours or so, you will find us under the Merlin Crag.
We offer to walk any man of our age in Great Britain. But what is our age ? Confound us if we know within a score or two. Yet we cannot get rid of the impression that we are under ninety. However, as we seek
no advantage, and give no odds, we challenge the octogenarians of the United Kingdom—fair toe and heel — a twelve-hour match—for love, fame, and a legitimate exchequer bill for a thousand. Why, these calves of ours would look queer, we confess, on the legs of a Leith porter; but even in our prime they were none of your big vulgar calves, but they handled like iron—now more like butter. There is still a spring in our instep; and our knees, sometimes shaky, are to-day knit as Pan's and neat as Apollo's. Poet we may not be, but Pedestrian we are; with Wordsworth we could not walk along imaginative heights, but, if not grievously out of our reckoning, on the turnpike road we could keep pace with Captain Barclay for a short distancesay from Dundee to Aberdeen.
Oh! Gemini ! but we are in high spirits. Yes, delights there indeed are, which none but pedestrians know. Much—all depends on the character of the wanderer; he must have known what it is to commune with his own thoughts and feelings, and be satisfied with them even as with the converse of a chosen friend. Not that he must always, in the solitudes that await him, be in a meditative mood, for ideas and emotions will of themselves arise, and he will only have to enjoy the pleasures which his own being spontaneously affords. It would indeed be a hopeless thing, if we were always to be on the stretch for happiness. Intellect, Imagination, and Feeling, all work of their own freewill, and not at the order of any taskmaster. A rill soon becomes a stream-a stream a river -a river a loch
-and a loch a sea. So it is with the current within the spirit. It carries us along, without either oar or sail, increasing in depth, breadth, and swiftness, yet all the while the easy work of our own wonderful minds. . While we seem only to see or hear, we are thinking and feeling far beyond the mere notices given by the senses; and years afterwards we find that we have been laying up treasures, in our most heedless moments, of imagery, and connecting together trains of thought that arise in startling beauty, almost without cause or any traceable origin. The Pedestrian, too, must not only love his own society, but the society of any other human beings, if blameless and not impure, among whom his lot may for a short season be cast. He must rejoice in all the forms and shows of life, however simple they may be, however humble, however low; and be able to find food for his thoughts beside the ingle of the loneliest hut, where the inmates sit with few words, and will rather be spoken to than speak to the stranger. In such places he will be delighted-perhaps surprised—to find in uncorrupted strength all the primary elements of human character. He will find that his knowledge may be wider that theirs, and better ordered, but that it rests on the same foundation, and comprehends the same matter. There will be no want of sympathies between him and them; and what he knows best, and loves most, will seldom fail to be that also which they listen to with greatest interest, and respecting which there is the closest communion between the minds of stranger and host. He may know the courses of the stars according to the revelation of science
—they may have studied them only as simple shepherds, “ whose hearts were gladdened” walking on the mountain-top. But they know—as he does—who sowed the stars in heaven, and that their silent courses are all adjusted by the hand of the Most High.
Oh! blessed, thrice blessed years of youth ! would we choose to live over again all your forgotten and unforgotten nights and days! Blessed, thrice blessed we call you, although, as we then felt, often darkened almost into insanity by self-sown sorrows springing out of our restless soul. No, we would not again face such troubles, not even for the glorious apparitions that familiarly haunted us in glens and forests, on mountains and on the great sea. But all, or nearly all that did once so grievously disturb, we can lay in the depths of the past, so that scarcely a ghastly voice is heard, a ghastly face beheld; while all that so charmed of yore, or nearly all, although no longer the daily companions of our life, still survive to be recalled at solemn hours, and with a “ beauty still more beauteous” to reinvest the earth, which neither sin nor sorrow can rob of its enchantments. We can still travel with the solitary mountain-stream from its source to the sea, and see new visions at every vista of its winding waters. The waterfall flows not with its own monotonous voice of a day or an hour, but like a choral anthem pealing with the hymns of many years. In the heart of the blind mist on the mountain-ranges we can now sit alone, surrounded by a world of images, over which time holds no power but to consecrate or solemnize. Solitude we can deepen by a single volition, and by a single