페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

foot of your companion, struck you as being more beautiful than you ever thought them before !

There is an infinity of charming associations connected with the idea of a ramble, and they are all pleasurable ones; they cannot be unhappy. How many a lovely scene is suggested to the mind, for one never rambles through other than beautiful spots! How many a clamber up mountains, with the heart lightsome and buoyant as the air around their summits, and how many a delightful prospect thence of stream and woodland ! How many a visit to ruined towers and crumbling monasteries, through whose cloisters we tread slowly, listening to our echoed footfalls, and conjuring from the past, amid the “dim, religious light," its band of grey-cowled monks; or to some lordly hall, now frail and tottering neath the breath of time, with its moat and chain-hung bridge o’er which in days of yore so often passed the gallant cavalcade, knights and ladies to the chase, hawk on wrist, with all their silver bells ringing merrily; perchance with pennons waving, and the sunshine flashing from bright helms and hauberks, to the tournament; or it may be to some more saddened spot o'er which a shadow hangs in memory, where the poor prisoner sighed his life away within the chilly cell, where innocence and beauty languished till the block transformed to a deliverance, and death came welcome as the rosy sleep that takes the ravished soul and "laps it in Elysium." and then the times and the seasons for rambles have deliciousness. The early morning, and the calmed twilight, while the moon is clear and serene above us, and the stars begin to peer around her in growing confidence of her reign; and if at noontide, then we have the quiet seat beneath shading boughs, perhaps by some limpid waterfall, with its cool gurgle breathing in our ear, and not forgetting the book, Shelley or Keats for instance, which a rambler always carries with him-Spring, with its budding leaves, and simple, but thrice welcome flowersSummer, in the full glory of blossom and verdure, and blissful inspirations, and perfumed breezes--Autumn, with the golden waving of the corn, the labours of the reapers, and even the falling of the sere and yellow leaf, are the beauteous seasons dedicate to them. Unless the clear and bracing frost of winter sometimes invite us, though, then it can scarce be called a ramble, for the slow, meditative, luxurious pace which essentially constitutes one, is not exactly suitable for the acerbity of winter, unless it have a singular proportion of “kindliness” mingled with its frost. But only imagine the sweetness of a stroll in summer evenings, after a shower has fallen to refresh the panting earth, when the perfume of flowers floats over the hedge

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

rows of cottage gardens, and the air is heavy with the scent of bean blossoms, which is amongst the richest of odours at such a time; and ever and anon, a beetle hums past us, as though partaking of the universal gladness of the hour, and too the chirping of the grasshoppers becomes more sbrill and constant; all these sounds, though nothing in themselves, “by season season'd are" to most agreeable significance.

By the bye, we would just 'en passant remark upon a favourite and most characteristic repast of a true rambler. Strawberries and cream! Is it not quite delicious even to hear the name? What could be more rural, more poetical, more akin to Ambrosia ? The fruit is perhaps the most beautiful in creation, so rosy and dimpled ; and then as to perfume-Ye gods! The cream too so pure, and suggestive of peaceful enjoyments, besides having been the worthy nourishment of Jupiter himself. We really feel proud of the possession of such a compost !

All poets have been ramblers, and it is pleasant to walk even in their shadows. In “ As you like it,” the sweetest of all his comedies, Shakespeare has revelled in the very essence of rambling. He makes the sweet Rosalind and Celia leave the court, to dwell on the skirts of the forest" like fringe upon a petticoat,' where they would have abundant opportunity for rambling; and Rose was a decided rambler, witness her pretty horror, when Jacques accounts for his melancholy, by

“ The sundry ruminations of my travels Wraps me in a most humourous sadness.”

Rose.—"A traveller! By my faith, you have good reason to be sad !" But she was a very sunny one, and we warrant only strayed in the light and airy paths of the forest, where the arching boughs gave, through their interlacements, glimpses of the blue sky, and of the sunshine, where the sward was sown with wild flowers, and thyme, whose perfume rose on the breath of her passing. Once only, but then she was particularly unhappy at the absence of Orlando, she exclaims :

“ I will go find a shadow, and sigh till he comes." And Jacques, though the word "travel" slipped out at unawares, was a consummate rambler too, and a very good fellow at heart, spite of his affected misanthropy. See how often we find him indulging the propensity; sometimes quizzing the rambling Orlando for “marring the young trees, with carving Rosalind on their barks; sometimes in a leafy glade discoursing with the “ motley fool," and piercing through the follies of the court, and of the world. Now moralizing " beneath

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the shade of melancholy boughs,” with what a spectacle before him, albeit it was a sad one !

As he lay along,
Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out
Upon the brook that brawls along the wood,
To the which place a pour, sequester'd stag,
That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt,

Did come to languish.” There is a picture which might well enamour one with rambling! Or again, stretched upon a bank, listening to the music of Amiens, and “sucking melancholy from a song, as a weasel sucks eggs.”

The banished Duke was a rambler, and a worthy one, and a sage lesson had it taught him. One which he had not learnt at court in a century

“Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp

? Are not the woods
More free from peril than the envious court ?

*

*

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in every thing." The immaculate Touchstone himself was smitten with the habit, and delivered many of his sagest dissertations during its indulgence. But to enumerate the poesy dedicate to rambling were too Herculean a task; luckily, it is needless, for its peculiar beauty has ever commended it to notice.

The characteristics of those of the insect world peculiarly given to rambling are charming! There are the yellow-girded bees, who play at labour all the long day, sweet-toothed fellows bustling down into the very depths of roses and harebells, bathing in seas of perfume, nigh distraught with the thousands of soft chalices that brim up for their sipping, dwelling in mossy banks and sunny hollows, and making a summer of it all the year round. And then the butterflies, so graceful and etherial that they typify the soul—the soul, in its aspirations after loveliness and purity, in its flights to heaven, not in its darkness and pollution, its grovelling in the unwholesomeness of guilt and sin. Butterflies, that hover all their life in one sweet paradise, that are so entwined with the calm and pleasantness of nature, that if one hap to wander in amongst the toil and darkness of a city, we gaze at it in wonder, and in sorrow. Whose golden-tinted wings gleam in the sunshine. as they thrill upon the flower tops and

bask in its radiance. These are associates to make us proud, to glad us with the thought that the gentle and innocent of another race, are strayers in the same path with ourselves, that they whose very life is made of the sunshine, and for whom wait the joys of earth and air, find no greater gladness than their perfumed ramblings.

But here it is time to pause, which we do with the greater willingness, as, with your kind indulgence, we promise ourselves many a subsequent ramble amongst rambles.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

IN pursuance of an intention of spending a month in Jersey and Guernsey, I started from Southampton, and found myself at the mouth of the Seine.

“Stop! Stop! the Seine, you cockney tourist ! what business had you there?” saith inwardly the reader.

No business at all; my case was only that of several of our joint acquaintance, Mr. Caviller, to know more of every body's business than my own.

“But what was your business, sir, I ask again, at the mouth of the Seine-your business, sir, not that of other people ?” utters the impatient reader.

It was the ship's business to be at Havre, and mine to be in Jersey, therefore were we at cross purposes, though with no purpose to cross together, I mildly rejoin.

Perhaps I got out of bed on its wrong side, perhaps on my blind one; however, I was steaming away Jerseyward, down Southampton water, when the mate asking me for my fare, I

gave him eight-and-twenty shillings. He generously gives me seven of them back again ! Mates are scheduled with landlords in the income tax act, thought I, taken aback with this unexpected liberality, only the deduction is rather disproportionate; so I ventured in a hope-confirmative, rather than a doubt-sug. gestive, tone to carelessly drop, “Reduced your fares to Jersey this summer-increased travelling to British Channel islands, now that France is too hot to be comfortable, eh ?”

“ If France is likely to be very much too warm for you, sir, I think that paletot of yours would fit me, to say nothing of your waistcoat, till we get there," said the mate, coolly.

“I don't mean the climate-the revolution, you know. The Jerseyite or Jersereens don't take the infection kindly, with all their French blood ?”

“Never was on the Jersey line of packets, can't say; twentyone shillings is our fare to Havre," and the mate, having uttered this duplex truism, accosted other passengers on the same topic.

My twenty-one shillings had been turned into a ticket, unmistakeably informing me that the bearer (that must be me) was to give up the same on landing at Havre. There was no reason at all why I should draw invidious distinctions, and not as well go to Havre as to Jersey, only one never hears of people going to Havre as loungers or sight-seers. Boulogne is the legitimate haunt of the first, and Paris of the second class of itinerants. I had no passport, and was burthened with a superabundant quantity of clothes, &c., in sundry boxes and bags, having spent the previous month from home, in the Isle of Wight. People get into the wrong box: that is common enough; well, I am only in the wrong boat. Eight hours and a half of serene steaming (sailing reads better) brought us opposite Havre. There is not a more promising or pleasant port in France or England. The côte above it is dotted with white pavillons, or villas, infinitely more picturesquely grouped than at Ryde or Cowes. Every thing in the aspect of Havre is hopeful; it is Liverpool in leading-strings, though not yet out of the infant school. The custom-house people were civil to an incompre, hensible degree. They made a form of opening my boxes, and immediately closed them again. I would recommend their example to the examiners at London Bridge and Dover. Smuggling has been rife here lately. The stewardess of my packet was before the Southampton police but a few days before I left, on a charge of conveying tobacco in four pockets strung round her. She had been ten years in the boat. One of the engineers, too, of the London and Havre boats was detected carrying Jacquenet lace to the latter place in oil cans, with false bottoms. Several thousand yards were seized, on which there

« 이전계속 »