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the recollection of the vivid sensations of that day-spring of life, than to the frolics themselves. At other times, in his hours of loneliness amid the isolation of age, he mentioned only his sensations, and would talk with delight of the smell of a flower when he was young, and the remembrance of the lively affection of the senses which he never experienced afterwards. These reminiscences of early life would have made him unhappy, had not his philosophy resigned bim to the inevitable laws of our common nature. His years were green to the last. He was beloved by the young, in whom he would find mementos of emotions which he had forgotten, and watch impressions, once his own, that the lapse of years had obliterated from his mind. He was no cynic-no obtuse preacher of the folly of every state of life except age -no cruel damper of youthful hope, because he could not partake in its expectations—no severe censurer of its aberrations, under the assumed garb of wisdom, chilling the warm glow of generous hearts, and extinguishing, with a hard time-worn brow knit into a frown, the sparkles of lively and joyous spirits,-peace to his manes !
It is delightful to fling a glance back to our early years, and recall our boyish actions glittering with the light of hope and the sanguine " expectations of incipient being. But the remembrance of our sensations when we were full of elasticity, when life was new and every sense and relish keen, when the eye saw nothing but a world of beauty and glory around, every object glittering in golden resplendency—is the most agreeable thing of all. The recollection of boyish actions gives small gratification to persons of mature years, except for what may, perchance, be associated with them. But youthful sensations experienced when the age of enjoyment was most keen, and the senses exquisitely susceptible, furnish delightful recollections, that cling around some of us in the last stage of life like the principle of being itself. How do we recollect the exquisite taste of a particular fruit or dish to have been then-how delicious a' cool draught from the running stream! A landscape, a particular tree, a field, how much better defined and delightfully coloured then than they ever appeared afterwards. Objects, too, were then of greater magnitude and consequence to us. We examined every thing more narrowly and in detail. As we advanced farther in life, we regarded them more in collective numbers. Single objects which afforded us pleasure, had the power of attaching the heart not possessed by a multiplicity. To the youth a little comparative space is a universe. The parental house is an edifice of magnitude, however small its superficies may be in reality; the garden is vast, and the meadow seenis of unbounded extent; a mile is the measure of an immense distance, and the blue hills at the boundary of the horizon appear the limits of a world. Having had no opportunity of making a comparison with objects really extended, the present visible is his universe, and his perceptions, readily including even the minutest that he sees, impress them clearly on the memory. When the world becomes known, it is looked at in larger portions, and cannot be grasped in detail. We only see and retain masses, and consequently a less vivid but more general picture of things; and we rarely again feel that interest in insignificant objects which we felt in boyhood, unless they are connected with some contingent circumstance that gives them importance. It is not the common regret we feel in retrospection, that
alone attaches us so strongly to the scenes and sensations of youth ; there is the superior attachment we naturally have for individuality we cannot love a multitude as we love one, and our affection is divided and confused on mingling in the great world. There was a single tree opposite the door of my father's house : I remember even now how every limb branched off, and that I thought no tree could be finer or larger. I loved its shade-I played under it for years; but when I visited it after my first absence for a few months from home, though I recognised it with intense interest, it appeared lessened in size; it was an object I loved, but as a tree it no longer attracted wonder at its dimensions; during my absence I had travelled in a forest of much larger trees, and the pleasure and well-defined image in my mind's eye which I owed to the singleness of this object I never again experienced in observing another.
Can I ever forget the sunny side of the wood, where I used to linger away my holidays among the falling leaves of the trees in autumn! I can recall the very smell of the sear foliage to recollection, and the sound of the dashing water is even now in my ear. The rustling of the boughs, the sparkling of the stream, the gnarled trunks of the old oaks around, long since levelled by the axe, left impressions only to be obliterated by death. The pleasure I then felt was undefinable, but I was satisfied to enjoy without caring whence my enjoyment arose. The old church-yard and its yew-trees, where I sacrilegiously enjoyed my pastimes among the dead, and the ivied tower, the belfry of which I frequently ascended, and wondered at the skill which could form such ponderous masses as the bells and lift them so higb,—these were objects that, on Sundays particularly, often filled my mind, upon viewing them, with a sensation that cannot be put into language. It was not joy, but a soothing tranquil delight, that made me forget for an instant I had any desire in the world unsatisfied. I have often thought since, that this state of mind must have approached pretty closely to happiness. As we passed the church-way path to the old Gothic porch on Sundays, I used to spell the inscriptions on the tombs, and wonder at the length of a life that exceeded sixty or seventy years, for days then passed slower than weeks pass now. I visited, the other day, the school-room where I had been once the drudge of a system of learning, the end of which I could not understand, and where, as was then the fashion, every method taken seemed intended to disgust the scholar with those studies he should be taught to love. I saw my name cut in the desk, I looked again on my old seat ; but my youthful recollections of the worse than eastern slavery I there endured, made me regard what I saw with a feeling of peculiar distaste. If one thing more than another prevent my desiring the days of my youth to return, it is the horror I feel for the despotism of the pedagogue. For years after I left school I looked at the classics with disgust. I remembered the heart-burnings, the tears, and the pains, the monkish method of teaching, now almost wholly confined to our public schools, had caused me.
It was long before I could take up a Horace, much less enjoy its perusal. It was not thus with the places I visited during the short space of cessation from task and toil that the week allowed. The meadow, where in true joviality of heart I had leaped, and raced, and played-this recalled the contentedness of mind, and the overflowing tide of delight I once experienced, when, climbing the stile which led into it, I left behind me the book and the task. How the sunshine of the youthful breast burst forth upon me, and the gushing spirit of unreined and innocent exhilaration braced every fibre, and rushed through every vein. The sun has never shone so brilliantly since. How fragrant were the flowers. How deep the azure of the sky! How vivid were the hues of nature! How intense the short-lived sensations of pain and pleasure ! How generous were all impulses ! How confiding, open, and upright all actions ! " Inhumanity to the distressed, and insolence to the fallen,” those besetting sins of manhood, how utterly strangers to the heart! How little of sordid interest, and how much of intrepid honesty, was then displayed! These sensations experienced in youth, and recalled in after-life, if deemed the fruit of inexperience, and inimical to the perfidious courtesies of society, should at least make us concede that we have exhausted some part of our stock of virtue and principle since—that we have been losers in some points by the lapse of time, if we have been gainers in others, more in harmony with conventional interests and views, and, we may add, with conventional vices.
The sensations peculiar to youth, being the result of impulse rather than reflection, have the advantage over those of manhood, however the pride of reason may give the latter the superiority. In manhood there is always a burden of thought bearing on the wheels of enjoyment. In manhood, too, we bave the misfortune of seeing the wreeks of early associations scattered every where around us. Youth can see nothing of this. It can take no review of antecedent pleasures or pains that become such a source of melancholy emotion in mature years. It has never sauntered through the rooms of a building, and recalled early days spent under its roof. I remember my feelings on an occasion of this sort, when I was like a traveller on the plain of Babylon, wondering where all that had once been to me so great and mighty, then wasmin what gulph the sounds of merriment that once reverberated from the walls, the master, the domestic, the aged, and the young, had disappeared. Our early recollections are pleasing to us because they look not on the morrow. Alas! what did that morrow leave when it became merged in the past! I have lately traversed the village in which I was born, without discovering a face that I knew. Houses have been demolished, fronts altered, tenements built, trees rooted up, and alterations effected, that made me feel a stranger amid the home of my fathers. The old-fashioned and roomy house where my infant years had been watched by parental affection, had been long uninhabited, it was in decay-the storm beat through its fractured windows, and it was partly roofless. The garden and its old elms, and the cherished feelings of many a happy hour, lay a weedy waste
Amid thy desert walks the lapwing Aies,
And the long grass o'ertops the mould'ring wall!
It is hung up in memory in all its freshness, and time cannot dilapidate its image. It is now become an essence that defies the mutability of material things. It is fixed in ethereal colours on the tablets of the mind, and lives within the domain of spirit, within the circumference of which the universal spoiler possesses no sovereignty.
I lately entered the church-yard of my native parish before-mentioned, and visited the tombs of those who in my youth were its busy inhabitants. The old Squire with his patrician monument, surrounded by an iron-railing to distinguish him in death from the plebeian dust around-he who used to halloo to the hounds with a cry like the warwhoop of the savage, dole forth rustic justice, or what he imagined to be justice, for it was sometimes, when poachers were concerned, naturally a little twisted from the true meaning of the word, by reason of his worship's venatorious prejudices. In these prejudices, however, he was outdone by the Vicar, who reposes within the great aile in the bosom of mother-church, not far from his fellow-sportsman. In fact, the Squire was, after all, the better practical Christian of the two. The Parson held the temporal as well as spiritual weapons, and advocated the preservation of game in the pulpit, out of which he would suffer no one to labour for its destruction that was not qualified like himself. How often I remember the return of both these defunct worthies from the chase, jaded and muddy, yet awful personages in the eyes of the cottagers, who gazed upon them and the bespattered horses from their doors as if they had been monarchs. Near the Squire reposed old Robin the huntsman, and not far off, around, a score of more ignoble personages, of whom I had numberless early recollections of character and circumstance. How busily memory employed itself at that moment! "How's found the shadows of the past move in long array before me, following time into oblivion! I asked myself to what end they had lived, toiled, and mouldered away into dusty forgetfulness? I contrasted the feelings I once had when treading the same spot, with those that then came over me: then all the future was promised happiness, the past left no regretful feelings, and the present was pretty evenly balanced between pleasure and pain. But now the past is loaded with melancholy recollections, and the future with apprehension, and even these mournful recollections of past time are ranked among the gratifications of the present. I remember, when a boy, the landlady of the Full Moon Inn, the hotel of the village-she was even then styled an old woman, who still survives, and looks strong and well :--she is an isthmus connecting two generations, having borne nearly the same aspect to both. After a certain period at the commencement of old age, the personal appearance in hale individuals changes very slowly: from sixty-five to seventy-five there is less alteration in some robust frames than might be naturally expected. This venerable remnant of other times had not changed her habits and manners. Like all who live in subservience to the law of custom rather than reason, she was a stern enemy to innovation of every kind. I entered her sanded parlour, and found the same pictures on the walls, and the same pieces of grotesque china, I had seen when a boy. Here, thought I, I can fling myself back again into the past. Here I can cogitate upon “lang syne," and practise an innocent deception on the senses. The locality was, in truth, no illusion, and while sipping a glass of the old lady's sherry, I hailed the shades of former years, and “toasted lips that bloomed no more." I forgot the long interval of chequered existence that bad intervened since I beheld the same scene with the eyes of youth. I conversed with other years, and held solemn communion with the images of the departed. Meditation brought out of the storehouse of memory many a forgotten incident that lay piled under the lumber of more recent impressions. The window of the room where I sat was open, and the fragrant blossom of an old white-thorn tree without came into the room, and brought with it a killing remembrance of the smell it bore long ago, as if no other could have exhaled so sweet an odour. The meadows beyond it looked the greenest I had ever seen, and the distant hills, aërially tinted, were to me for a short space more beautiful than my eyes had lighted upon before : all wore the colouring it was clothed with in my youth. The illusion was short, but delightful, and was dispelled by the painful reflection, that it was but an illusion, and only a minute portion of what was remaining, like an oasis in a ride of sand that had overwhelmed all beside of a beautiful landscape, or like a flowery eminence seen above a rising flood, and not yet buried beneath its waste of waters.
What must have been the feelings of the Emperor of France, when, after a battle with the Allies in 1814, he found himself under the very tree at Brienne, where he had read “ Jerusalem Delivered” in his youth. He would no doubt have exchanged all the splendours of his turbid existence to recall those times again. How delighted was Johnson on visiting, just before the close of existence, the same willow-tree at Lichfield which he had known in his boyhood. Waller, in his old age, bought a small house and a little land at Coleshill, that he might return again to the place of his early recollections, and “die like a stag where he had been roused." How many similar instances might be quoted of attachment to the times of youth. We revert to them in the last period of existence, as if we would fain run our course of years over again; and yet this is really the case with very few of us---we love them perhaps because the innocence and artlessness of youth give us more satisfaction upon reflection than the artifice and selfishness of our intervening years.
For I have mei thee 'midst the gay-and thought of none but thee,