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been looking more sublime or more beautiful in the reflected shadows, invested with one universal peace. The momentary evanescence of all that imagery at a breath touches us with the thought that all it represents, steadfast as seems its endurance, will as utterly pass away.
Such visions when gazed on in that wondrous depth and purity on a still slow-moving day, always inspire some such feeling as this; and we sigh to think how transitory must be all things, when the setting sun is seen to sink behind the mountain, and all the golden pomp at the same instant to evanish from the Loch.
Evening is preparing to let fall her shades—and Nature, cool, fresh, and unwearied, is laying herself down for a few hours' sleep. There had been a long strong summer drought, and a week ago you would have pitied—absolutely pitied the poor Highlands. You missed the cottage-girl with her pitcher at the well in the brae, for the spring scarcely trickled, and the water-cresses were yellow before their time. Many a dancing hill-stream was dead-only here and there one stronger than her sisters attempted a pas-seul over the shelving rocks; but all choral movements and melodies forsook the mountains, still and silent as so much painted canvass. Waterfalls first tamed their thunder, then listened alarmed to their own echoes, wailed themselves away into diminutive murmurs, gasped for life, died, and were buried at the feet of the green slippery precipices. Tarns sank into moors; and there was the voice of weeping heard and low lament among the water-lilies. Ay, millions of pretty flowerets died in
their infancy, even on their mother's breast; the bee fainted in the desert for want of the honey-dew, and the ground-cells of industry were hushed below the heather. Cattle lay lean on the brownness of a hundred hills, and the hoof of the red-deer lost its fleetness. Along the shores of lochs great stones appeared, within what for centuries had been the lowest water-mark; and whole bays, once bright and beautiful with reed-pointed wavelets, became swamps, cracked and seamed, or rustling in the aridity with a useless crop, to the sugh of the passing wind. On the shore of the sea alone, you beheld no change. The tides ebbed and flowed as before—the small billows racing over the silver sands to the same goal of shells, or climbing up to the same wild flowers that bathe the foundation of some old castle belonging to the ocean.
But the windows of heaven were opened-and, like giants refreshed with mountain-dew, the rivers flung themselves over the cliffs with roars of thunder. The autumnal woods are fresher than those of summer. The mild harvest-moon will yet repair the evil done by the outrageous sun; and, in the gracious after-growth, the green earth far and wide rejoices as in spring. Like people that have hidden themselves in caves when their native land was oppressed, out gush the torrents, and descend with songs to the plain. The hill-country is itself again when it hears the voice of streams. Magnificent army of mists ! whose array encompasses islands of the sea, and who still, as thy glorious vanguard keeps deploying among the glens, rollest on in silence more
sublime than the trampling of the feet of horses, or the sound of the wheels of chariots, to the heath-covered mountains of Scotland, we bid thee hail !
In all our wanderings through the Highlands, towards night we have always found ourselves at home. What though no human dwelling was at hand ? We cared not-for we could find a bed-room among the casual inclinations of rocks, and of all curtains the wild-brier forms itself into the most gracefully-festooned draperies, letting in green light alone from the intercepted stars. Many a cave we know of—cool by day, and warm by night—how they happen to be so, we cannot tell where no man but ourselves ever slept, or ever will sleep; and sometimes, on startling a doe at evening in a thicket, we have lain down in her lair, and in our slumbers heard the rain pattering on the roofing birktree, but felt not one drop on our face, till at dawning we struck a shower of diamonds from the fragrant tresses. But to-night we shall not need to sleep among the sylvans; for our Tail has pitched our Tent on the. Moor -and is now sweeping the mountain with telescope for sight of our descending feet. Hark! signal-gun and bagpipe hail our advent, and the Pyramid brightens in its joy, independent of the sunlight, that has left but one streak in the sky.
Yes! all we have to do is to let down their lids-to will what our eyes shall see—and, lo! there it is a creation ! Day dawns, and for our delight in soft illumination from the dim obscure floats slowly up a visionary loch-island after island evolving itself into settled stateliness above its trembling shadow, till, from the overpowering beauty of the wide confusion of woods and waters, we seek relief, but find none, in gazing on the sky; for the east is in all the glory of sunrise, and the heads and the names of the mountains are uncertain among the gorgeous colouring of the clouds. Would that we were a painter! Oh! how we should dash on the day and interlace it with night! That chasm should be filled with enduring gloom, thicker and thicker, nor the sun himself suffered to assuage the sullen spirit, now lowering and threatening there, as if portentous of earth
quake. Danger and fear should be made to hang together for ever on those cliffs, and halfway up the precipice be fixed the restless cloud ascending from the abyss, so that in imagination you could not choose but hear the cataract. The Shadows should seem to be stalk
like evil spirits before angels of light—for at our bidding the Splendours should prevail against them, deploying from the gates of Heaven beneath the banners of morn. Yet the whole picture should be harmonious as a hymn—as a hymn at once sublime and sweetserene and solemn—nor should it not be felt as even cheerful--and sometimes as if there were about to be merriment in Nature's heart—for the multitude of the isles should rejoice—and the new-woke waters look as if they were waiting for the breezes to enliven them into waves, and wearied of rest to be longing for the motion already beginning to rustle by fits along the silvan shores. Perhaps a deer or two_but we have opened a corner of the fringed curtains of our eyes—the idea is gone—and Turner or Thomson must transfer from our paper to his canvass the imperfect outline-for it is no more and make us a present of the finished picture.
Strange that with all our love of nature, and of art, we never were a Painter.
True that in boyhood we were no contemptible hand at a Lion or a Tiger-and sketches by us of such cats springing or preparing to spring in keelavine, dashed off some fifty or sixty years ago, might well make Edwin Landseer stare. Even yet we are a sort of Salvator Rosa at a savage