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That he would share the pleasures and pursuits
“ Another sun,"
To enfeebled Power,
PREFACE TO THE EXCURSION. Page 18. .
much did he see of Men.' At the risk of giving a shock to the prejudices of artificial society, I have ever been ready to pay homage to the aristocracy of nature; under a conviction that vigorous human-heartedness is the constituent principle of true taste. It may still, however, be satisfactory to have prose testimony how far a Character, employed for purposes of imagination, is founded upon general fact. I, therefore, subjoin an extract from an author who had opportunities of being well acquainted with a class of men, from whom my own personal knowledge emboldened me to draw this portrait.
'We learn from Cæsar and other Roman Writers, that the travelling merchants who frequented Gaul and other barbarous countries, either newly conquered by the Roman arms, or bordering on the Roman conquests, were ever the first to make the inhabitants of those countries familiarly acquainted with the Roman modes of life, and to inspire them with an inclination to follow the Roman fashions, and to enjoy Roman conveniences. In North America, travelling merchants from the Settlements have done and continue to do much more towards civilising the Indian natives, than all the missionaries, papist or protestant, who have ever been sent among them.
"It is farther to be observed, for the credit of this most useful class of men, that they commonly contribute, by their personal manners, no less than by the sale of their wares, to the refinement of the people among whom they travel. Their dealings form them to great quickness of wit and acuteness of judgment. Having constant occasion to recommend themselves and their goods, they acquire habits of the most obliging attention, and the most insinuating address. As in their peregrinations they have opportunity of contemplating the manners of various men and various cities, they become eminently skilled in the knowledge of the world. As they wander, each alone, through thinly-inhabited districts, they form habits of reflection and of sublime contemplation. With all these qualifications, no wonder, that they should often be, in remote parts of the country, the best mirrors of fashion, and censors of manners ; and should contribute much to polish the roughness, and soften the rusticity of our peasantry. It is not more than twenty or thirty years since a young man going from any part of Scotland to England, of purpose to carry the pack, was considered as going to lead the life and acquire the fortune of a gentleman. When, after twenty years' absence in that honourable line of employment, he returned with his acquisitions to his native country, he was regarded as a gentleman to all intents and purposes.'
Heron's Journey in Scotland, Vol. i. p. 89.
• Lost in unsearchable Eternity!' Since this paragraph was composed, I have read with so much pleasure, in Burnet's Theory of the Earth, a passage expressing corresponding sentiments, excited by objects of a similar nature, that I cannot forbear to transcribe it.
“Siquod verò Natura nobis dedit spectaculum, in hâc tellure, verè gratum, et philosopho dignum, id semel mihi contigisse arbitror ; cùm ex celsissimå rupe speculabundus ad oram maris Mediterranei, hinc æquor cæruleum, illinc tractus Alpinos prospexi; nihil quidem magis dispar aut dissimile, nec in suo genere, magìs egre. gium et singulare. Hoc theatrum ego facilè prætulerim Romanis cunctis, Græcisve ; atque id quod natura hîc spectandum exhibet, scenicis ludis omnibus, aut amphitheatri certaminibus. Nihil hîc elegans aut venustum, sed ingens et magnificum, et quod placet maguitudine suâ et quâdam specie immensitatis. Hinc intuebar maris æquabilem superficiem, usque et usque diffusam, quantum maximùm oculorum acies ferri potuit; illinc disruptissimam terræ faciem, et vastas moles variè elevatas aut depressas, erectas propendentes, reclinatas, coacervatas, omni situ inæquali et turbido.
Placuit, ex hâc parte, Naturæ unitas et simplicitas, et inexhausta quædam planities ; ex alterâ, multiformis confusio magnorum corporum, et insanæ rerum strages : quas cùm intuebar, non urbis alicujus aut oppidi, sed confracti mundi rudera, ante oculos habere mihi visus sum.
In singulis ferè montibus erat aliquid insolens et mirabile, sed præ cæteris mihi placebat illa, quâ sedebam, rupes ; erat maxima et altissima, et quâ terram respiciebat, molliori ascensu altitudinem suam dissimulabat: quà verò mare, horrendúm præceps, et quasi ad perpendiculum facta, instar parietis. Prætereà facies illa marina adeò erat lævis ac uniformis (quod in rupibus aliquando observare licet) ac si scissa fuisset à summo ad imum, in illo plano; vel terræ motu aliquo, aut fulmine, divulsa.
Ima pars rupis erat cava, recessusque habuit, et saxeos specus, euntes in vacuum montem ; sive naturâ pridem factos, sive exesos mari, et undarum crebris ictibus : In hos enim cum impetu ruebant et fragore, æstuantis maris fluctus ; quos iterum spumantes reddidit antrum, et quasi ab imo ventre evomuit.
Dextrum latus montis erat præruptum, aspero saxo et nudâ caute : sinistrum non adeò neglexerat Natura, arboribus utpote ornatum : et prope pedem montis rivus limpidæ aquæ prorupit ; qui cùm vicinam vallem irrigaverat, lento motu serpens, et per varios mæandros, quasi ad protrahendam vitam, in magno mari absorptus subito periit. Denique in summo vertice promontorii, commodè eminebat saxum, cui insidebam contemplabundus. Vale augusta sedes, Rege digna : Augusta rupes, semper mihi memoranda !' P. 89. Telluris Theoria sacra, &c. Editio secunda.
Page 108. Of Missisippi, or that Northern Stream.' 'A man is supposed to improve by going out into the World, by visiting London. Artificial man does ; he extends with his sphere ; but, alas ! that sphere is microscopic; it is formed of minutiæ, and he surrenders his genuine vision to the artist, in order to embrace it in his ken. His bodily senses grow acute, even to barren and inhuman pruriency; while his mental become proportionally obtuse. The reverse is the Man of Mind : he who is placed in the sphere of Nature and of God, might be a mock at Tattersallis and Brooks's, and a sneer at St. James's : he would certainly be swallowed alive by the first Pizarro that crossed him :- But when he walks along the river of Amazons; when he rests his eye on the unrivalled Andes ; when he measures the long and watered savannah; or contemplates, from a sudden promontory, the distant, vast Pacific—and feels himself a freeman in this vast theatre, and
commanding each ready produced fruit of this wilderness, and each progeny of this stream--his exaltation is not less than imperial. He is as gentle, too, as he is great : his emotions of tenderness keep pace with his elevation of sentiment; for he says, “These were made by a good Being, who, unsought by me, placed me here to enjoy them. He becomes at once a child and a king. His mind is in himself; from hence he argues, and from hence he acts, and he argues unerringly, and acts magisterially : his mind in himself is also in his God; and therefore he loves, and therefore he soars.' - From the notes upon The Hurricane, a Poem, by William Gilbert.
The Reader, I am sure, will thank me for the above quotation, which, though from a strange book, is one of the finest passages of modern English prose.
Earth to despise,' dc. See, upon this subject, Baxter's most interesting review of his own opinions and sentiments in the decline of life. It may be found (lately reprinted) in Dr. Wordsworth’s Ecclesiastical Biography.
* Alas/ the endowment of immortal Power,
Is matched unequally with custom, time,' &c. This subject is treated at length in the Ode-Intimations of Immortality, vol. v. page 103.
Knowing the heart of Man is set to be,' &c. The passage quoted from Daniel is taken from a poem addressed to the Lady Margaret, Countess of Cumberland, and the two last lines, printed in Italics, are by him translated from Seneca. The whole Poem is very beautiful. I will transcribe four stanzas from it, as they contain an admirable picture of the state of a wise Man's
a mind in a time of public commotion.
Nor is he moved with all the thunder-cracks