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Seotish Life, The Trials of Margaret Lindsay, The Foresters, are gems of this kind, and gems of the first water. For force arid clearness of style, for truth to nature in the secret workings of the
deeper emotions of the heart, for purity and elevation of moral sentiment, and above all, for the power and influence which they exercise, they will forever stand as lasting monuments of the genius which planned them. These are however but a small portion of the writings on which the fame of Wilson reposes. It is not cur purpose to bring these in review, but to introduce a few reflections which we sketched some twelve years ago, after reading the Miscellanies of this gifted author, first collected and published in Philadelphia, about the year 1842. This manuscript we found among our old papers which we were assorting the other day, with view of preserving some, and burning others. We are doubtful whether we ought to send it to you or the spirit of Caliph Omar. If you think it worthy of publication, please give it a place in your Journal. J2.
This is the title of a work recently published embracing all the essays of the gifted editor of Blackwood's Magazine, from 1828 up to the present time. At the name of Christopher North, how many pleasing associations are awakened in our memories, when, in looking back through the dim vistas of the past, and through the hazy light tinged with the softened and mellowed hues of distance, we behold the shadowy forms of the blooming fields of heather and hawthorn, through which we have passed with one who was as -"the voice of a solemn and sportive spirit," throwing around us a veil of silver frostwork, and investing the living forms of bird and bee, and flower, of mountain and low land, of cottage and hamlet, of lake and river, of torrent and mountain mist, with a beauty and poetry all their own.
Christopher North! why God bless the man who, in the loneliness of the wilderness, when we reclined among the odor breathing oranges of another clime, came like a spirit of paradise on purple wing spotted with gold, and communed with us in the deep and pensive musings not of melancholy, not of gloom, but of pure, -chastened and sublimated adoration which consecrated nature and
nature's God in the secret chambers and spotless shrines of tho temple within.
"Mirrored in thought methinks to me
The spectral past comes back again.
Once more in retrospection's eye, i
And we are again in the field, and over the moor, and on the mountain side, near some happy shieling, and hear the distant notes of the bag-pipe, the merry ringing voices of children, and the glad murmurings of the brook, all mingling as they swell and fall in softened cadence, coming like a spirit on the breeze; or like the voice of some Naiad from the snow-white foam which settles upon the dimpled waters of the gurgling stream. Amidst scenes like these we again see our companion in his sporting jacket—his tall and stately form, a noble presence—his radiant face richly glowing with benignity—his sportive smile telling of a heart all at ease with itseif—his mischievous and quaint gravity, indicative of the fanciful associations in his own mind, of the incongruous with the symmetrical, the imaginative with the real — his quiet eye full of benevolence, and beaming with kindness and sympathy for all human kind — for none have known better how to shed gracefully a tear over the infirmities and the sorrows of life; whilst the joyful spirit which has sported with the beautiful vageries of his own midnight and midsummer and winter dreams, has left some traces of playfulness on his furrowed cheek. With one thus formed, could you not consent to journey along through green lanes and hawthorn copses and yellow harvest fields, and purple heather the balance of your days, and
"Muse on Nature with a poet's eye?"
But from these regions of the treasured past let us turn back to the subject of our thoughts—the book. Start not, gentle reader, we are not about to write a criticism, for in doing so we should be much more likely to write a rhapsody, and fly off to climes where the solitary bee is humming in the flower cup on some lonesome desert with its brown vesture of stunted grass, or where the lonely rose is blooming on some moss-covered and mouldering and forgotten ruin of temple or tower amidst the deep solitude of the arid and sandy plain. For our spirit likes not the sober russet garb or the precise habiliments of a cold and passionless carping about words and style, and plots and figures; for as the rudest dress may conceal a bosom in which there glows the proudest and noblest aspiration and the holiest affections, so words as a rude covering may conceal gems of feelings and emotions, which can find no expression in these symbolical representatives of conventional modes of speech.
The Pythoness was supposed to be inspired only when fully under the influence of some deadly drug, out however inspired, wo we regard it exactly in the light of an insect of an hour, but as one whose vigorous and freshened breathings are eternal. We may examine, not analyse it strictly, not that its gaudiness dazzles us so as to preclude the possibility of seeing every lineament of beauty, every outline of grace. But "Christmas Dreams," what dost thou think of them, reader? What a crowd of beautiful associations rise up before us at the sound of this household word! Associations enbalmed among the choicest treasures of the memory of the past. Who can lookback on the days of childhood and youth, and the periodical return of this gladsome holiday passed in the sportive gambols and frolics which greeted the smiling and fleeting hours as they floated along as joyously as light, without a feeling of pleasure mingled with sadness? The experience of one individual will differ materially from that of another, and materially different will be the images which crowd the individual recollections of everyone, when he threads the mazy and lengthened pathway through which he has passed from the earliest dawn of his spiritual existence to the period, when he is casting backwards his shadowy reminiscences.
Christmas, with its happy faces, with its boisterous or more quiet enjoyments, with its physical and spiritual pleasures, does not in the experience of every one present the same aspect. We are made to realize the beauty and force of these recollections in "Christmas Dreams," where the scenes which have been witnessed, and the associations connected with them, were from the experience of one whose form is bent with age, and whose hair is sprinkled by the frost of time; a period at which we delight to dwell on the thick coming and beautiful memories of the past. Who does not feel, in having these associations aroused from the slumber in which they have so long reposed, that memory has consecrated and enshrined them in a light more rosy and etherial than that which invested them as the sober realities of a fleeting existence? Beloved and happy faces are now smiling on our earliest manifestations of a gladness and joy which knew no cause but that others were around us and happy, and the kindling sympathy which dawned as a feeble light reflected back on the sources from whence it was borrowed, that which carried comfort and solace to the innermost soul. But the happy faces of those fond and aged parent? where are they? On the slope of yonder hillside with its green churchyard, its snow-white tombstones, its mounds covered with the tangled rose and eglantine, beneath the shade of the mournful willow with its graceful solemn trailing on the breeze, sleep the forms of those who smiled upon our days of innocence; Quietly do they sleep; and yet methinks that in the quiet tranquilty of this lonely place, where the weary spirit would fain rest from its toils, they do not sleep, but on angel wings have soared to other climes where tranquility and peace, and chastened and sublimated love shed their mild and rosy radiance over the dawning brightness of an endless scene. Voices which made the welkin ring with boisterous mirth, or forms which enlivened the snowdrifted scene, or glided gracefully over the ice-bound lake, or mingled confusedly and tumultuously in blind man's buff or the romp, where are they? The voices of many are stilled, and hushed in the silence of the grave. But the forms of others, though changed they be, are seen around us toiling on in the pilgrimage of life—changed indeed are they — not so happy now as the lark when it brushes the dew from its wing, and mounts higher and higher to pierce the blue pavilions of the skies with the full melody of its grateful song, or when they wandered through the flowery fields of innocent delight, and knew not of the thorns that lurked beneath their verdant drapery. They cull but a few solitary flowers now, and saddened and sobered down are they, for amidst the thousand fountains of enjoyment which they tasted, there has been some trace of poison, some element of bitterness, which has transformed the innermost soul. The silver mesh work has been tarnished or darkened by the woof of sorrow, and it no longer shines in the glorious effulgence of the light which shone upon it when it first flashed back its heaven-born brightness; a change came over their spiritual manifestations as years advanced. In a probation, in the midst of a land smiling in beauty, and robed in magnificence, they wandered from flowery fields into darkened pathways, and now in toil and bitterness of spirit, find the brightest scenes of enjoyment overshadowed by sadness and gloom. Other voices and forms indeed have they, and magic could scarce effect transformations more wonderful than time has effected in a few brief years.
What strange mutations mark the course, and define in bold outlines the stages of human life! —A short and happy period of innocence — halcyon days all where the winged hours fly away in the dim past on golden wing as noiseless as the footsteps of the falling snow — another, still happier, if not in impulsive joy and fond delight, in thought and feeling—a season of passion when the full flowing heart sends out its gushing and sparkling waters, when young and-blushing emotions bud forth, and sentiments unfolds their bright petals in the mellow dew and strong light of kindling affections—these feel their own power, and strengthen in the pride of their own consciousness, purified and sublimated by the innocence upon which they lean for support. Another stage, and all is not so bright and pure. The disposition made selfish from the very desire of enjoyment—morose from rough contact with the world; distrustful, where disappointments wither the fairest buds of promise, anxious, with restlessness to secure in the future what has been denied in the past—sad, where affliction follows in the footsteps of affliction, sorrowful, where one misfortune is too often a prelude to another—is it at all strange or wonderful that a trans