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Leyden wrote an historical essay on fairy superstition-but we cannot see much beauty in the following description of fairy-land. It wants the wild touches of the Ettrick Shepherd.
By every thorn along the woodland damp, The tiny glow-worm lights her emerald lamp, Like the shot-star, whose yet unquenched light
Studs with faint gleam the raven vest of night.
While hand in hand she leads the frolic round, The dinning tabor shakes the charmed ground;
Or, graceful mounted on her palfrey gray; In robes that glister like the sun in May, With hawk and hound she leads the moonlight ranks
Of knights and dames to Huntley's ferny banks,
Where Rymour, long of yore the nymph embrac❜d,
The first of men unearthly lips to taste.
Through winding paths that never saw the sun. Where Eildon hides his roots in caverns dun, They pass, the hollow pavement, as they go Rocks to remurmuring waves that boil below. Silent they wade, where sounding torrentslave The banks, and red the tinge of every wave; For all the blood that dyes the warrior's hand
Runs through the thirsty springs of fairyland.
Girt with broad faulchion, and with bugle green
Ah! could a mortal trust the fairy queen!
In iron sleep the minstrel lies forlorn,
His description of the spectre-ship, Scott in his notes to Rokeby, but unwhich has been praised by Walter luckily far surpassed by a picture of the same superstition in the poem itself, is perhaps the best thing Leyden ever wrote. It has two or three picturesque lines; yet, after all, the said but little different from one of his ship, with its crew of ghosts, seems Majesty's vessels with her usual compliment of men and boys. There is nothing of that spirit of superstitious fear thrown over it that attends the ship in which Coleridge's Ancient Mariner drives along through the snowstorm.
Stout was the ship, from Benin's palmy shore That first the freight of barter'd captives bore: Bedimm'd with blood, the sun with shrinking beams
Beheld her bounding o'er the ocean-streams; But, ere the moon her silver horns had rear'd, Amid the crew the speckled plague appear'd. Faint and despairing on their watery bier, To every friendly shore the sailors steer; Repell'd from port to port they sue in vain, Where ne'er the bright and buoyant wave And track with slow unsteady sail the main.
To streak with wandering foam the seaweeds green,
Towers the tall mast, a lone and leafless tree; Till, self-impell'd, amid the waveless sea, Where summer breezes ne'er were heard to Nor hovering snow-birds spread the downy sing, wing. Fix'd as a rock, amid the boundless plain, The yellow steam pollutes the stagnant main Till far through night the funeral flames aspire,
As the red lightning smites the ghastly pyre.
Still doom'd by fate, on weltering billows roll'd,
Along the deep their restless course to hold,
Again, sweet syren! breathe again
Whose melting tones of tender woe
The Celtic warrior's parted shade: Such are the lonely sounds that sweep O'er the blue bosom of the deep,
Where shipwreck'd mariners are laid. Ah! sure, as Hindú legends tell, When music's tones the bosom swell,
The scenes of former life return; Ere, sunk beneath the morning star, We left our parent climes afar,
Immur'd in mortal forms to mourn.
Or if, as ancient sages ween,
Can mingle with the mortal throng; "Tis when from heart to heart we roll The deep-ton'd music of the soul,
That warbles in our Scottish song. I hear, I hear, with awful dread, The plaintive music of the dead!
They leave the amber fields of day: Soft as the cadence of the wave, That murmurs round the mermaid's grave, They mingle in the magic lay.
Sweet syren, breathe the powerful strain! Lochroyan's Damsel sails the main ;
The crystal tower enchanted see!
'Now break,' she cries, 'ye fairy charms!" As round she sails with fond alarms,
'Now break, and set my true love free!" Lord Barnard is to greenwood gone, Where fair Gil Morrice sits alone,
And careless combs his yellow hair.
The hunter's mangled head must bear.
Sing how, beneath the greenwood tree, Brown Adam's love maintain'd her truth, Nor would resign the exil'd youth
For any knight the fair could see. And sing the Hawk of pinion gray, To southern climes who wing'd his way,
For he could speak as well as fly; Her brethren how the fair beguil'd, And on her Scottish lover smil'd,
As slow she rais'd her languid eye. Fair was her cheek's carnation glow, Like red blood on a wreath of snow;
Like evening's dewy star her eye; White as the sea-mew's downy breast, Borne on the surge's foamy crest,
Her graceful bosom heav'd the sigh.
Remember'd like a morning dream,
Along the banks of Teviot's stream.
"If the borders of this lake are not so beautiful as those of the Italian lakes, they are, upon the whole, much more deeply interesting; both from
Sweet sounds! that oft have sooth'd to rest The sorrows of my guileless breast,
And charm'd away mine infant tears: Fond memory shall your strains repeat, Like distant echoes, doubly sweet,
That in the wild the traveller hears.
To visit Syria's date-crown'd shore,
And scenes of early youth, deplore. Soft syren! whose enchanting strain Floats wildly round my raptur'd brain, I bid your pleasing haunts adieu ! Yet fabling fancy oft shall lead My footsteps to the silver Tweed, Through scenes that I no more must view.
SKETCHES OF SCENERY IN SAVOY, SWITZERLAND, AND THE ALPS.
Lake of Geneva.
(Continued from Vol. IV. page 582.)
the unrivalled grandeur that is combined and contrasted with their beauty, and from the rich and inexhaustible world of associations that is con
nected with and dependent upon them.
"You will not expect, my dear C-, that I shall be able to write you any very sober, plodding, prose descriptions from such a place as this, surrounded and glorified as it is by all that is bright and beautiful, as well in imagination as reality; and the powers that it derives from these two distinct sources so bound and blended together, as to make it almost impossible that one who is open to the influence of both, should be able to give its due share to either. While I stand in the presence of these two powers, I find I can do little else but admire and exclaim; and now that I am sitting at my writing-table thinking of them and of you, I'm afraid I shall be able to do little more.
"Here dwelt that mysterious being who was made up of all kinds of contradictions-that living paradox, Rousseau. A man who was formed for friendship, and yet never had or could have a friend;-whose soul was the very birth-place and cradle of love, and yet who never loved any thing but a shadow or a dream ;-whose spirit could never taste of true happiness but when it was pouring itself forth into the bosom of another, and yet never once found a kindred or confident, till it was forced at last to make one of all the world collectively: the very worst it could have chosen; and this, too, at a time when the very best it could have found would have come too late ;-the purest, the sincerest, and most eloquent worshipper of nature, and of God, and yet at times-(I shrink from confessing it, and yet I must confess it)—at times the meanest and most paltry of mankind. Here he used to wander and meditate and dream. Here, at least, he was pure and peaceful, if not happy. And here it is that I delight to think of and watch and accompany him. The moment he sets his foot within the walls of a city I am obliged to quit him; for then his spirits sink, his heart shrinks inward to an obscure corner of his breast, his earthly blood begins to ferment, and poor, pitiful, bodily self steps forth, and with its soiled and misty mantle, covers and conceals all things; or so totally changes their forms and colours and sounds, that his eyes and ears can no longer do their office for him; and thus blind
and helpless and miserable, he either lies at the mercy of those who have no mercy, or, in despair, plunges into the throng, and becomes as mean and as wicked as the rest. It must have been a most painful and affecting spectacle to have seen Rousseau when his course of life brought him in contact with the great world; for of all men that ever lived he was the least fitted to associate with it, and yet had the least power to leave it. He was "infirm of purpose," and had none of that proud strength of will which has enabled a celebrated countryman of of ours to contemn and trample on, and then quit, with a lofty disdain, a society of beings in whose passions and pursuits he found himself unable to feel a sympathy, or to take a share. However we may doubt the justice of this disdain, or call in question his right to entertain it, we cannot but acknowledge that there is something grand in the unhesitating expression of it. If we do not admire, we cannot despise, still less pity it. Rousseau-the poor, frail, feeble, Rousseau,-struggling in the toils and yet totally unable to burst them-must have been, with all his faults, an object of the truest and deepest commiseration. There he lay-fettered and imprisoned-groaning beneath his bondage, without patience to bear or strength to break it-and every struggle fastening the chains still more closely about him-till at length the iron entered into his heart and brain, and corroding there, drove him to des traction-for such was undoubtedly. his condition at last.
"Here, however, in the presence of this beautiful water-floating upon its bosom, or climbing the mountains that line its shores-here he was wise and good, and (I must think it) happy.
"I took little notice of Geneva, the birth-place of Rousseau; for we were not staying there, but at Secheron, about a mile from it. I did not even inquire for the house in which he was born; for there are no very pleasant associations connected with his earliest youth. But the left bank of the lake from Geneva seems, as it were, to belong to him, and to the imaginary beings with which he has every where peopled it. And fortunately they are imaginary ones, so that we do not see them, or even fancy that
we see them, which might disturb our peculiar associations. But we feel that their influences are about us wherever we go. Their free and happy voices, such as they were while they are yet gay and innocent,-seem blending with the song of the birds, or flitting by us on the perfumed breezes that inhabit these delightful shores. But even these sounds are less sweet and touching then when sorrow has tempered them into sad ness. Then we hear them uttering their patient but never-ceasing murmurs in every little wave that ripples to the shore; or they come floating to us along the waters, as we watch their unheaving bosom sleeping beneath the moonlight. When joy is glittering in their eyes, they seem to gaze upon us from the stars above; for symbols of the same eyes weeping, we turn to the reflection of the same stars in the lake below.
"It is chiefly in visiting such scenes as these that we are made to feel, in its fullest and deepest import, the miraculous power of genius. Here are three imaginary beings, inhabitants of a little town at the foot of the Alps a youth and two maidens, without name or fortune with no pretensions to distinguish them from the rest of the world but their simplicity and the strength of their affections-who meet with no events to mark one day of their life from another, but a walk in a chesnut grove, a water party, or a kiss-yet to those who, while they were young, have read the history of these beings in the language in which it was written, and supposing them to thoroughly understand that language, they occupy a larger and dearer space in their mind and memory, than all the true history of all the real kings and conquerors that ever lived. The atmosphere of passion that genius has cast around them, has glorified them into more than living and breathing forms, has sanctified the imaginary marks of their footsteps, and, what was more difficult than all, has, by and through them, added a thousand beauties to scenes that were before almost unrivalled.
Shall we throw back to them the contempt they cast upon us? No: we will return them good for evil-pity for scorn-pity unmixed with any bitterness. We can well afford to do so for we have all the delight on our side: unless indeed they should choose to deny that we have the faculty of knowing when we are pleased. If they do this, we shall be forced to suspect that they do not know what if is to be pleased at all."
"Would you believe, my dear C-, that there are persons and among those, too, who are reckoned the wise ones of the earth,-who would feel the greatest contempt for all this, and for the feelings which dictate it?
"Yesterday was a perfectly calm clear day, and I went on the lake for the first time. I merely passed across to the opposite bank; but notwithstanding the scenery that I was on all sides surrounded by, the feeling that occupied me the whole time arose from the sound of the oars dipping into the lake, and the dripping of the waterdrops from their edges in the intervals between each stroke. Not to waste words in multiplying comparisons, you know I have heard nearly all Mozart's best music; much of it over and over again-which indeed is the only way to appreciate it properly. But of all the sounds that ever fell upon my ear, the one I have just alluded to was beyond comparison the most deliciousbreathing the most pure spirit of tranquil happiness. Not joy, but happiness for no two things can be more different from each other. The characterising spirit of the one is change→→ that of the other is repetition. The song of the nightingale is joy-the murmur of the stock-dove is happiness. In a few days I may perhaps endeavour to give you some general idea of the scenery connected with this beautiful lake.'
"The lake of Geneva is of an irregular oblong form, and is completely embosomed in the Alps, which rise almost immediately from its banks at all parts except the eastern extremity. Here the mountains seem to have divided of themselves, and formed a chasm for the purpose of admitting the Rhone to pass through; which it does at this particular point, and then, spreading itself out in all directions, forms the lake: for perhaps you are not aware that the lake of Geneva is nothing more than an accumulation of the waters of this river within an immense basin or reservoir formed by the surrounding mountains. The
Rhone is said to run through the lake; but this is not a correct mode of expression. There is no current at all, or a scarcely perceptible one, even in the centre of the lake. The Rhone, indeed, is perpetually rushing in at one extremity; and this of course causes a perpetual overflow and rushing out of water at the other extremity, which stream very properly takes the name of the Rhone; but it is no more or no less the Rhone than the lake itself is. From any elevated point in the neighbourhood, the vista formed by this chasm in the mountains is extremely beautiful. The eye wanders over the lovely valley of the Rhone, dwelling alternately upon the hills that bound it on either side; and at length loses itself among the distant mountains of the Valais. We will take the southern side of this chasm as the point of commencement and reference. Nearly the whole southern border of the lake, beginning at this point, is bounded by the mountains of Savoy, which rise almost immediately from the water's edge, and immediately behind them arise the snow Alps of Savoy," Alps on Alps," erecting themselves higher and higher behind each other, and stretching out interminably into the distance, and from almost every point of view presenting the most splendid, powerful, and impressive sight that can be of fered to the eye, and, through it, to the mind of man. The effect is heightened, and rendered absolutely satisfying and complete, by the perpetual presence of the great lord and master of them all, Mont Blanc, who seems to stand aloof in his unapproachable grandeur, and to watch over his subject-mountains with a look of fixed serenity, arising from a feeling of conscious and undisputed power. As we approach towards the western extremity of the lake, the mountains recede farther from the shore, and leave a space of rising ground, which is covered by the most beautiful cultivation, with here and there a village or a mansion interspersed, which admirably harmonize with the surrounding scenery, and prepare the eye to receive and welcome the crowd of objects connected with active life which now present themselves. Geneva occupies that part of the shore which forms the whole of the western extremity of the lake, and rises, in the manner of an
amphitheatre, immediately from the water's edge. Through the centre of the town runs the overflow of water caused by the perpetual influx of the Rhone at the other extremity. It takes the form of a strong river; and the water at this part is of a deep blue colour, and as clear as crystal, which is not the case at its entrance. Indeed I believe the Rhone is quite turbid during the whole course of its progress, till it reaches this delightful resting-place. Here, however, it seems to become renovated and purified, and sets out again on its new pilgrimage, with increased power and with added beauty.
"We now arrive at the northern side of the lake. About half a mile from Geneva is Secheron, a charming little village, with a capital and extensive hotel, at which it is the fashion to stop, rather than at Geneva. Here M. de Jean will do you the favour (for it is a favour) to find room for you, provided your equipage makes a certain figure and appearance-and, in fact, during the whole of the summer and autumn he is compelled to make this distinction; for from the situation and conveniences of his house, it would always be full in the travelling season, if it were three or four times as large. But if he does find room for you, his accommodotion is excellent, and his charges not at all extravagant.
"From Geneva, after passing Secheron, Nyon, Morges, &c. along a gradually ascending road the whole way, we arrive at Lausanne, which is situated on an eminence about half a mile from the shore. Here begins the classical ground, and continues to the eastern extremity of the lake: Lausanne, Veray, Clarens, Chillon, and Villeneure. If I were writing to any one but yourself, my dear C—, I should hardly dare trust myself to think of these places in connexion with the associations that spring up at every step of them. Associations, too, that have lately been so splendidly multiplied by the Third Canto, incomparably the finest of all Byron's works. But with you I need not endeavour to control my thoughts. In such scenes as these, they can only be of any value when they are left to themselves; and in writing them to you, it is delightful for me to feel, that the more pleasure the presence of