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BIRTH PLACE OF ROBERT POLLOK.
We presume that there are few, if any among our readers, who have not heard of Pollok’s “ Course of Time," a poem published about fifteen years since, and which has now passed through many editions. It was originally published without any preface, dedication, introduction, advertisement, or argument prefixed, and though its author was altogether unknown in the literary world, commanded at once ao large sale and extensive perusal. One of our ablest reviews describes it as the finest poem which has appeared in any language since Paradise Lost; and similar testimony was borne almost universally to its surpassing merit—a merit, unlike that usually sought by modern writers, based upon the majesty and scriptural character of the truths it taught.
We this month present our readers with a view of the birth-place of its author, Robert Pollok, situate at Eaglesham, Renfrewshire; a glance at which will be suflicient to satisfy us, that our poet, as regarded worldly honors and advantages, did not rank among
the great ones of mankind. He was, however, the son of worthy parents, “whom God made of kindest heart;" and appears like most of his countrymen to have had a good education, which he knew well how to improve. Having experienced a series of mental exercises and trials of no ordinary intensity, he seems at length to have laid his varied talents and acquirements on the altar which sanctifies both the gift and the giver; and it has pleased God in no common degree to bless them to the good of many. Being destined for the church, Mr. Pollok studied under Dr. Dick of Glasgow; but his ardour in pursuit of truth proved too much for his enfeebled body, and he died immediately after the publication of his work, at the early age of twenty-eight.
Two young English gentlemen, to whom we will give the names of Octavius and Frederic, met together, very unexpectedly, at the hotel on the lake of Thun, in Switzerland, the evening before each had meditated a stroll on foot to the valley of Grindelwald.
They had been school-fellows, although the one was several years older than the other, and had lost sight of each other for many years. Octavius, who was the younger, had come with his family to Berne, and this was the first time that he had
excursion on the continent, excepting under the paternal eye.
The meeting between the young men was a joyful one ; and it was some time before either of them became aware that they were so changed since their school days as to have now scarcely one idea in common, nor one object alike, excepting the anticipated stroll to the mountains. Frederic was the first to make the discovery and to feel the irksomeness of it. Whilst they were partaking of some excellent trout from the beautiful lake which washed the foundations of the hotel, he dropped some words which made Octavius exclaim—" Why, my good fellow, surely you have not turned Methodist, have
you imbibed any queer notions of that sort, I must have them out
? If you have
Frederic started like a horse when he suddenly sees some fearful object before him ; but he was anxious to avoid giving offence, unless he could do some good by it, and therefore answered cheerfully, “You must take me as you find me, Octavius, with much bad, I fear, and little good about me; call me what you will ; I am not particular as to cognomens.”
“Well, then,” said Octavius (à propros to nothing), “How are we to proceed to-morrow? Let us send for a guide. We must have a guide, to be sure ; lest we should tumble into some hole, and find a grave before we are ready for one."
“We are not going to encounter any great dangers, Octavius,” replied Frederic, “ unless we wilfully seek them out, which I shall not do."
“I shall take things as they come,” answered Octavius flippantly, "and must depend on you, my more discreet friend, if I should perish in a snow-pit, to write to my governor, at Berne, and let him know that he is minus a son."
The young men were dining in an upper room, the window of which opened on a gallery which ran the whole length of the house, over the lake. Octavius, who took the lead, ordered the waiter, when he removed the dinner, to set wine and fruit in the balcony, and to send up a guide for the mountains.
“ Send some one,” he said, “who has common sense, and can follow his nose ; for these fellows”—he added in English to Frederic—"are I believe, always chosen out of any town or village where they may happen to be, because they are fit for nothing else than to be the leaders of such strange animals as you and I.”
The young men were hardly seated in the balcony, when one of these guides presented himself in the form of a decent-looking young peasant.
“Your name? my friend,” asked Octavius, as he tossed off a bumper of cote roti.
“ Rhodolphe Haldermann," was the reply, accompanied with a low bow.
“Well, Monsieur Rhodolphe Haldermann,” replied Octavius, in French, “I suppose you have some idea how the land lies hereabouts ?”
The guide hesitated, not being aware of the purport of the enquiry ; but was soon relieved from his perplexity, by Octavius, who said, "step on this balcony, and tell me the names of those snowy heights which encircle the horizon around your famous lake as far as we can see hence; begin at the left and go on." “ I shall see if he knows what he is about,” added the pert young Englishman, addressing his friend in their own language, “I know all those peaks and points as well as the fingers of my own hand, and I shall detect him at once if he mistake.”
Haldermann, at the young gentleman's bidding, uttered one strange name after another; and Octavius repeated them with a complacent nod, adding, after each name the word, “good !” in French, and thus it ran, “ La Jung frau. Bon ! Le Glitsher horn. Bon! L' Ebene Fluk. Bon."' &c. &c. till the guide had enumerated all the sparkling heights seen over the lake from the side of the hotel nearest the water; and the young Englishman had expressed his approval, just as a master does to a little child when
eating his first column of spelling. The plan of the next day's tour was then arranged; they agreed to proceed over the lake as far as a place called Neuhaus, and thence to go on foot through the lovely villages of Unterswald and Interlachen, to the valley of Grindelwald.
Frederic saw little more of his friend that evening ; Octavius sat at his wine till he fell asleep in his chair, and Frederic walked out on the banks of the lake, lingering till the sun had set, and the mountains had assumed that pale cold hue which sometimes gives them an almost unearthly appearance in the fading twilight.
Where, thought Frederic, does the Almighty exhibit the glory of his works more decidedly and more suitably to human apprehension than amongst scenes like these? The heavens, indeed, declare the glory of God, and the firmament, his handy work; but the mind of man is lost amid the fields of ether, and confounded in the contemplation of the star-eyed night, and of the wisdom which numbers and balances the clouds; but the wonders of mountain scenery come within our comprehension, and bring the power of the Almighty more within the grasp of our intellect; and yet to think that He, who by his strength set fast these mighty bulwarks of earth should have condescended to take upon himself our feeble nature with all its pains and penalties, through love of the creature he had formed! Oh! it